Rip off London rickshaw driver charges £206 for short trip

London rickshaw driver caught overcharging tourists: the unlicensed menace of pedicabs


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A video featuring a London cycle rickshaw driver has gone viral, after he tried to charge a woman and her son a shocking £206 for a short trip. The passengers insisted they were only in the rickshaw for three minutes, but he is seen defending his outlandish charges by claiming it was more like ten minutes - which would have worked out at £20.60 per minute.

The video was filmed by a taxi driver who saw the argument. It starts with the woman demanding her money back after she realises how horribly she has been overcharged. A passer by, the taxi driver and two policemen intervene. But still, the rickshaw driver tries to claim his charges are fair and that he wants £10 per person, per minute.

The police officer is heard saying: "They're foreign tourists, you're ripping them off. You're blatantly ripping them off because you know one minute in here is not worth £10. You know that the service you're providing for a minute is not worth £10, you're exploiting tourists."

The video cuts off before any agreement is reached, and police told the Metro newspaper they would not comment because it was civil matter. Friedel Schroder, chairman of the London Pedicabs Operators Association, told the Standard: "Apart from not being a rider with an LPOA operator, what he is doing is actually illegal. Riders need to verbally pre-agree the price [before the ride]. We do not condone this behaviour as acceptable."

Are rickshaws a menace?

The LPOA estimates there are more than 700 pedicabs operating in London. They are not regulated, so there is no set fare or formal licensing structure. It means they are free to set their own ridiculously high costs. Typically this is around £5 a minute, but as this video shows, it can be as much as £10 per minute.

Boris Johnson has been a vocal opponent of these cycle rickshaws, stating as early as 2012 that they were a dangerous menace. Back in May this year he said he wanted to ban them on London's streets because of congestion they cause.

There are plenty of steps he could take. Last year in Chicago, the local authorities brought in measures that meant rickshaw drivers needed licences, had to buy insurance, and must post details of the fares so that potential passengers know what they are getting into. There are also restrictions on them in the rush hour, and bans from certain particularly busy parts of the city.

However, in London, three years after the Mayor first spoke up about the rickshaws, a driver is still free to fleece tourists £206 for a ten minute journey.

If you are tempted to use a pedicab, it's essential to ask upfront what the journey will cost you. Only if you're sure you understand the distances involved and the full cost - and are happy with the price - should you go anywhere near these rickshaws. And even then, there's no way to guarantee your safety from the craziness of London traffic.

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