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Bay Area Taxi Drivers Say They Face ‘Extortion’ From Hotel Employees

Bay Area Taxi Drivers Say They Face ‘Extortion’ From Hotel Employees
Jennifer Billock

Hotel staff in the Bay Area are illegally collecting kickbacks from cab drivers, an undercover video shows.

According to a group of anonymous taxi drivers who spoke under condition of anonymity to NBC Bay Area, hotels near the San Francisco International Airport are forcing drivers to pay up if they want to get customers. Valets and lobby staff reportedly only arrange passengers in cabs that pay an ever-increasing amount of money in kickbacks — similar to a bribe.

“They call whoever pays more,” one driver told NBC Bay Area. “If we don’t pay, we don’t get business. So we have to pay to at least get something.”

This type of collection is illegal, and the video shows most hotel employees who solicit these kickbacks seem to be doing so slyly, hiding cash under a counter or quickly putting it in their pocket as a guest approaches. And although tipping hotel staff has been customary in years past, now it’s getting out of hand, the drivers say.

“It’s money under the table,” one driver told NBC Bay Area. “It’s big money. Drivers are paying almost half the money they make.”

The drivers say that this “extortion” is costing them nearly half their salary.

“We work 10 hours, sometimes 12 hours to cover all the money we give to them,” another driver told NBC Bay Area. “We work seven days a week. We cannot support our families.”

According to the drivers, this type of kickback is occurring at almost every airport hotel along the Burlingame waterfront. Tips to staff were previously only five or ten dollars, but now employees are demanding $20 or more.

[Photo: AP]

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. danielchee

    May 11, 2016 at 5:44 am

    If these cab drivers can band together and fight their perceived injustices by Uber, why can’t they band together and boycott specific hotels for pickups? Probably because the taxi “leadership” gets some kickbacks from the kickbacks the hotel staff gets from the drivers.

  2. imm2b

    imm2b

    May 11, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    An Uber driver who took me to SFO who’s also working as as a taxi driver told me he pays the hotel bell boys $10 for each ride to the airport. They call him directly when there’s customer.

  3. alphaod

    May 12, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Guess I’m not tipping those bellboys anymore.

  4. KRSW

    May 12, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    …and that’s why I use Uber/Lyft instead of Taxis most of the time.

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