Wednesday, May 11, 2011

5% Credit Card Fees for San Francisco Taxi Drivers

San Francisco Cab Drivers on Slow nights average a take home wage of less than the minimum wage in San Francisco, but yet are asked to pay for the higher gas prices and now additional 5 % in credit card fees for transactions where the rider wants to use a credit card. The SFMTA at a town hall meeting wants to investigate passing the cost of credit card transactions to the customer, the driver, or the cab company. In the meanwhile when the SFMTA has brought in 9 million and some change from the taxi drivers in the last year. Why not have the SFMTA pay for the credit card fees, after all they mandated that San Francisco Taxis take credit cards in the first place. Just a thought.


  1. The drivers of Yellow, DeSoto, and Luxor had a free ride with credit card fees for a long time. Their companies ate the processing costs, while drivers who work for smaller companies went to people like the Russian lady by the City Wide Dispatch office, where they were charged 10%. I have no issue with seeing the playing field leveled. If the organizers of the protests look at we taxi drivers as brothers, then I'm sure they'd want equal treatment for all of us, right?

    I know of no other business in this world, not even eBay sellers, who are exempt from paying credit card fees. The small percentage we lose is nothing compared to the large percentage we gain. Since getting set up with the Veriphone system in my assigned taxi, my income has risen by approximately $300-400 per week.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned though, is that drivers are not required to use the Veriphone system. They are free to use their own credit card processing service. There are companies who offer better rates. San Francisco-based Square, for one, offers processing through certain smartphones for around 2.75%.

    That "less than minimum wage" statement is a tricky one. Yes, we do have nights like that. For example, New Year's Eve is a blowout, but New Year's Day is a bust. Same goes for Halloween and the day after Halloween. That's why it's important for drivers to properly manage their money. Quit treating it like daily pay and start treating it as a weekly paycheck. Set weekly/monthly/quarterly financial goals. Stop living for the moment and learn to look ahead.

    Along with managing money, drivers need to manage their time as well. Quit spending half your shift sitting at the airport or hotel line. Cruise neighborhoods other than Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square. There's tons of locals that need rides. Take a dispatch call. Use Cabulous if you have it. And dammit, when you do get a passenger in the car, treat him/her with respect. Your tip depends on it...

    And last, I've been feeling as if there's an underlying issue with this 5% thing. Though I'm still uncertain of the terms, I have been told that we may recieve 1099 forms for credit card transactions made through the Veriphone machine. Are drivers really afraid that they'll have to pay taxes now, just like everyone else in America? Drivers can't have it both ways...You can't live fee-free, scream for healthcare and other benefits, and avoid paying taxes at the same time. That's why I've decided that I shall stay far-removed from this protest. It's full of inconsistancies and very biased information...

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