Pedicabs are a fun way for tourists to experience New York, but some drivers have allegedly charged upwards of $400 for short rides.
Two families from Texas and Maryland said that a pedicab driver asked them to pay more than $400 for 10-minute trips. According to the New York Post the tourists complained that the pedicab driver surprised them with crazy prices printed in small letters on his rate card and hidden fees at the end of the ride.
Gregg Zuman, vice president of the New York City Pedicab Owners Association, said to NBC News "It's getting to a whole new level of extortion, really. It's just an abomination."
Zuman who is campaigning for fair practices in the industry also said, "We want people to come back and have another pedicab ride, not say, 'I'll never do this again and gosh, why would I come back to New York if I'm going to get treated like this?"
Pedicab drivers are allowed to set their own rates and New York City has rules about how big the print spelling on the rate cards need to be. Also drivers are only allowed to have three passengers at one time.
The New York City Pedicab Owners' Association is worried that incidences like this give a bad name to the industry as a whole and to pedicab drivers that are honest and fair. The association represents about 100 pedicabs and it is pshing for a law that would require pedicab drivers to give a full-price quote to customers up front.
Even though, currently, rates are required to be posted it can often be confusing because there are a number of different fees including, "initial fees," "per block fees," and "per avenue fees," that can quickly accumulate.
The organization wants to tighten licensing of pedicabs as well and look more closely at individual's immigration status. Zuman said to NBC News, "They give business permits to people who are not allowed to practice business in the United States."
The question is how to avoid getting ripped off? It's important to always look for the rate signs. Rate signs should always be posted on both sides of the pedicab. If the rate is based on time there should be a timer in the pedicab that you can see. As far as a rate going per block, before leaving ask the driver to estimate the amount of blocks it will take. Always ask for a full quote before getting in a pedicab and remember that rates are usually quoted per person.