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D.C. To Crack Down On Use Of Unauthorized Credit Card Systems

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A driver with a Taxi Magic card reader asked if he could run a credit card through Square.
Martin Di Caro/WAMU
A driver with a Taxi Magic card reader asked if he could run a credit card through Square.

The chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission has announced a crackdown on cab drivers he says are gaming the system.

Any time you hail a cab in Washington, you should be able to pay with your credit card. While regulators believe most cabbies are in compliance, an unknown number are having technical problems with their new credit card readers.

So instead of using their approved devices, many of these cabbies are using the mobile card reader Square to process credit card payments. D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Ron Linton is putting those drivers on notice.

"We are going and are taking action and planning action to confiscate and fine drivers who use unapproved devices such as Square," Linton says.

When asked how commission planned to catch violators, the chairman said: "We know how to find it out."

Linton says the commission is also investigating 76 complaints filed by customers who say their cabbies wouldn't let them use credit cards.

"If they have a working system and deny its working, that's a violation," Linton says. "If they have a non-working system, they shouldn't be picking up the passengers."

Drivers waiting to pick up passengers outside Union Station say they are not lying or cheating the system. They say their credit card machines are glitchy.

"New equipment, sometimes works, sometimes it don't," says driver Abebe Elis.

Cabbies commonly used Square before the commission imposed its modernization program on the District's taxi fleet. Square is unable to track trip data or send the $.25 fare surcharge to the taxicab commission, so it is not on the approved list of payment processors.

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