Why Cabs in SF Hate Me… and Everyone Else

There are a lot of reasons why I love San Francisco.  The weather, the proximity to water, West Coast lifestyle, Trader Joe’s, etc. etc.

There are also a few things that I could do without.  This post is going to highlight my discontent with cabs in San Francisco.

Story 1 – Initial Visit to San Francisco and Pre-Move

Two of my coworkers and I hailed down a cab and after we got into the cab, we told him we needed three different drop off locations because we were all headed off to our respective homes/hotels.

From the get go our taxi driver was short fused and snappy.  When he dropped off my coworkers, it was just him and me.

Feeling apprehensive about Mr. Sourpuss over there and also being in a strange city for the first time and me not wanting to end up on Channel 11 or its SF equivalent, I tried engaging in a friendly conversation

How’s your night going?

It was rude of your friends and you to get into my cab and expect me to drive you all to three different places.

Um… I’m sorry?

It was disrespect.  You didn’t respect me.

Um. Oh. I didn’t realized it was an issue.  I apologize for the inconveniencing you… and giving you more business?

My apology went nowhere.  He kept going on and on.  And then went on and on again.  When we finally got to my destination, I scurried my butt out of there as fast as I could and tipped well so he wouldn’t follow me ranting.

Story 2 – Post-Move to SF

This cab ride conversation with the driver consisted of him lecturing me on how to properly hail down a cab because apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all these years in Toronto.  My arms needed to be more extended and my wave needed to have more emphasis and oomph.  This driver would have made a great pageant dad.  He did forgot to mention how I was able to effectively flag his cab down.

Story 3 – Everyday Life in SF

My three coworkers – Lo, Katie, and MR- and I were off to an birthday party so we flagged (correctly this time!) down a cab and taxied it over.  Lo offered to cover the cab so the three of us hopped out and waited for her to settle the bill.  Lo gets out of the cab with a look of disbelief.

What’s wrong Lo?

He asked for more tip.


I gave him a tip and he said “that’s all you’re giving me for 4 people?

And… did you end up giving him more?


The word “seriously” was plastered on the rest of my and the other girls’ expression.

Oh… Lo… you didn’t.

So some key takeaways for you San Francisco tourists and upcoming expats:

  • Plan an extra 10 minutes in your schedule to flag down a cab.  Don’t bother calling for a cab unless you like being put on hold for 10 minutes and then having the cab not show up.  Or you could just walk.
  • Tip according to this math equation: Level of Tip = Level of Customer Service.  Don’t let them make you feel bad!
  • Tell them every single destination that you want to go to prior to getting into the cab.
  • Learn how to properly hail a cab.  And, being the educational blog that I am, here is a video on how to hail a taxi.

Do the opposite of what this young lad is doing

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    • Leigh Anne
    • January 31st, 2012

    I think the high cost of living combined with the general “hipster” attitude is combining to work against you. They know if you live in San Fran you have $$$$.

    Alternative — Open a rick shaw business!!!

    • Very true! combine that and the lack of parking, cabs can be picky about their customers.

  1. Trader Joe’s, that is something I really miss. One opened up in Charleston two weeks before I moved to Taiwan, great timing huh? Whenever I went to Boston to see my sister, I always stocked up on coffee, canned soup,and salsa (but not together).

    • But the South has Piggly Wiggly which is equally as cool if not for the mini kegs customer self-fill than definitely for the incredibly adorable name.
      BTW – Charleston is one of my favourite US cities.

      • I have never seen a keg self-fill, but SC has really strict liquor laws as to when and where it can be sold (liquor in red-dot stores only, liquor stores can’t sell beer or wine, grocery stores can’t sell liquor). There was a Piggly Wiggly on every corner in Charleston and its surrounding suburbs, but I never went there unless it was an emergency and it was the closest thing. It does have a good name, but I could never get the “ethnic” ingredients that I usually cooked with, I had to go to Publix for those. It was great to live in Charleston, but the city is really spread out, and you have to get on a long bridge to get anywhere. Minor errands easily turned into 1/2 hour drives. It is nice to look at, though.

  2. I highly suggest all of you to not tip or ask for the tip back if your cabbies is rude to you for any reason. You tip out of common curtsey, what ever tip they get they should be thankful for. The cabbies in this city try to intimidate you so you would give them more money. That’s a form of terrorism and theft.

    Respect yourself and don’t give more money and if possible take back your tip if they ask for more money. Or perhaps take the cab number and report them. I suggest a website where we report cab numbers and archive them with the dates and times of trips. I think it will be a popular way of raising awareness about the issue which will change the behavior of the cabbies.

    Almost every cab in this city gives me this attitude, meaning they are all in on it they know that by being rude they can get more tip. Lets change that by making such website.

    I will gladly give more tip if my cabbie is nice rather than rude. Lets not encourage bad behavior in our city by tipping the rude!

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