Cabbie may be one charged after passengers refuse to pay

Teresa Wright
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Allan French sits in his taxi cab in a parking lot in Charlottetown. French says police could charge him with kidnapping because he would not let two people who refused to pay their fare leave his cab.

Alan French drove intoxicated men to police station instead and may face unlawful confinement charges

A taxi driver in Charlottetown fed up with intoxicated passengers who skip out on their fares says he decided to take a stand – and now may be facing criminal charges.

On Sunday at 3 a.m., Alan French picked up two men in their early 20s in Charlottetown. They asked to be taken to an address in the Hillsborough development.

But upon arrival, the men informed French they had no intention of paying him for the cab ride.

“So, what I did was, I locked my car doors and phoned my dispatcher on the two-way, and said, ‘Can you phone city police? I’m going to take these two guys over the police station for non-payment of funds.’”

He then drove them to the police station. Along the way, he says one of the men struck him in the head and jumped out of the vehicle.

The young man later turned up at the station.

French says police questioned both him and the two men.

That’s when he was informed he may be the one facing charges of unlawful confinement.

“Is this real, am I dreaming? Is this a nightmare? I couldn’t believe it,” French said, describing his reaction.

“Drivers are getting ripped off on a constant basis now and nothing happens. But when we make a stand as a driver, we face the consequences.”

French said he was fed up with the increasing number of passengers not paying their cab fares.

Some will claim they have no cash. Others say they need to fetch their money from inside their destination and never come back out to pay.

Neil Harpham, president of the Charlottetown Taxi Association, says the problem of people skipping out on their cab has been getting worse in Charlottetown.

And there’s little recourse for taxi drivers when it happens.

“You hit a brick wall because of the cost and time of trying to do something about it or getting somebody charged or chasing them down,” Harpham said.

“Drivers are getting ripped off on a constant basis now and nothing happens. But when we make a stand as a driver, we face the consequences.” Alan French, taxi driver

“Most of the time, it’s just not worth it.”

That’s why French says he felt he needed to take action by taking the men who refused to pay him to the police.

“There’s no recourse for us, and we’re getting ripped off constantly. And police are doing squat,” he said.

“I took a stand.”

Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan says there is an ongoing investigation into the incident.

He would not comment directly on the case, but did say he does not recommend other taxi drivers take the same action.

“(They should) get their fares upfront,” he said.

“That’s the advice I would give them. It’s the same as what’s happening at the gas pumps now. People are stealing gas, so they’re making them pay for their gas and then pumping it. So if that’s what’s happening with taxi drivers, and it does happen occasionally, if they’re leery of whether or not they’re going to get their fare, they should ask for it up front.”

Harpham says this is done occasionally, especially if a passenger is asking for a ride to a location well outside the city.

But he said a pay upfront policy would offend their regular customers, which he says make up 75 to 80 per cent of P.E.I.’s taxi business.

“There are far fewer cabs on Friday and Saturday nights because of this problem, in addition to all the abuse from drunk people,” Harpham said.

McGuigan said it has not yet been determined whether French will face unlawful confinement charges as a result of the incident Sunday morning.

Organizations: Charlottetown Taxi Association

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Hillsborough, Charlottetown.And P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Wait a minute
    January 10, 2014 - 02:25

    This "cabbie" who kidnapped his passengers and the passengers themselves are all criminals. They should all be charged and dealt with by the courts. No special treatment. All of them are trying the play the "victim" card and that's just ridiculous. I'm sure it's not new behavior for ANY of them. Grow up boys.

  • Adam
    January 09, 2014 - 20:27

    I do not feel bad for this cabbie at all. Being a university student in Charlottetown, I've personally seen these drivers charging unreasonable fares, numbers they come up with off the top of their heads. I've been charged 3 different amounts this year alone from downtown to my apartment, with the same amount of people in the cab. Until meters are installed in the cabs which show the customer how much the fare is going to cost based on distance, this kind of thing is bound to keep happening. Things need to change in these cabs, and right away.

  • debbie
    January 09, 2014 - 19:03

    i think this is crazy he did what he though was the right thing ..the cab drivers have to put with a hell of a lot in a run of a night ..people drunk throwing up in the cab and yes being ripped off the ones that need punished are the young punks that didnt want to pay

  • Admitting to holding hostage?
    January 09, 2014 - 12:23

    Point blank, both parties are in the wrong. Two people were thrives, robbing a freecab ride. And the driver willingly withheld the passengers and took advantage of their intoxicated state... To prove his own point. Being a sober passenger in a cab with many drunk people, cabbies commonly take advantage of their passengers taking the longest way home, ending with a tripledfee cab ride. The drunk people don't care for the difference. What if those passengers decided to take a stand and not pay the outrageous fee. Roles would be reversed. It happens on both ends and no one should be playing the poor me card. Both should be punished. Passengers pay the fee, and the driver charged with abduction and holding hostage (he admitted to locking them in the car...come on..)

    • Tracey
      January 09, 2014 - 13:52

      Admitting... On PEI the cab drivers do no have metered fares. They charge a set price for the zone that the person lives in. The driver could take the longest route from pick up to drop off and can only charge the price that the Cit assigns each zone. You are assuming the passengers were overcharged. Do you know this for sure? The passengers did not want to pay for services rendered. That is called theft..

  • Wait a minute
    January 09, 2014 - 09:01

    While I do not condone the actions of the two men who refused to pay their cab fare, this "cabbie" deserves to have the book thrown at him. Under no circumstances do you have the right to kidnap or confine another person. Especially for a $10 cab ride. If someone tried to do that to me, for whatever reason, they would be taking their life into their hands.

    • Really
      January 09, 2014 - 12:10

      Hun... Interesting... If all persons who were so called confined or kidnapped were brought to a police station wouldn't it be a much better world to live in. Perhaps the cabbie wasn't informed of the proper process but there was not malicious intent on his part in my opionion.

    • Captain Canuck
      January 09, 2014 - 13:49

      To Wait a minute: Hold on a sec. Can you see the irony in what you say? Lemme guess, you are the only one who may take The Law into his own hands and the punishment you mete is death? You friendless goon.

  • crime costs us all
    January 09, 2014 - 08:27

    Something needs to be put in place to stop the next "customer" from ripping off their cab driver. We need this service, and every time someone rips off a company, it costs those who do actually pay. You cannot just refuse to take someone somewhere because they are drunk and don't think they will pay, but of you think they won't pay you can ask for a rough estimate of the cost prior to leaving the pick up spot. My father needed to see a doctor and get to the hospital in the middle of the night New Years eve and after calling multiple cab companies, and getting no answer, they called the ambulance. We need the cab service and the brave people who drive the cab to continue to offer this service. Without this very valuable service, the roads would be used only by the drunk drivers as they would be the only ones brave enough to drive them.

    • John
      January 09, 2014 - 13:37

      Actually you can refuse to take an intoxicated passenger that you think won't pay the fare. You have every rich to turn down someone's business. It may not be a good financial decision but cab drivers are under no obligation to pick people up.

  • Mary Adabms
    January 09, 2014 - 07:06

    I think cab drivers should have a camera in thier vehicle 's, it's not safe anymore. I hope they fix this mess up if they were confined how did one guy get out, the driver is lucky the hit on the head could have been so much worse for him. I think when these guys sober up and seen how they acted might smarten them up to some degree. They should be apologizing to this man, not trying to get him in trouble he didn't ask for. "Just saying".

  • ChrisD
    January 09, 2014 - 06:59

    Alan, I support what you did, and while I agree with mostly everything being said here, I can't agree with the point of offending the regulars by asking for up front payment. It's the regulars that you have no issue with, and will understand completely.

  • Rob McEachern
    January 09, 2014 - 06:50

    The victim is often betrayed by inept and incompetents. Read up on the Lucky Moose Case where the shopkeeper chased down the culprit and tackled them, then held them for Police. The shopkeeper had to fight for years and the Lucky Moose Law was passed last year. Bravo to you Mr. French You are a Champion!

  • Iucas Tierney
    January 08, 2014 - 23:10

    I support Allan French ! I will be personally asking for him next time I look for a drive ! This man deserves a medal . It's time more ppl stand up for what is right . The little pukes that steal and create crime hurt everyone .. Prices go up more drunks drive home as prices are too high and fewer cab drivers on the road . Paying up front is a great idea , your not offended to pay up front at Burger King are you ? In French we trust !

  • benjamin
    January 08, 2014 - 22:55

    I wonder if the cab occupants might have a side to the story? Maybe they were suprised at the price of a cab ride in Charlottetown. I am speaking from two perspectives. Firstly, I drove cab for 5 years in another city bigger than Charlottetown. I had many problems and issues to deal with but never confined a passenger and took them somewhere against their will. There are other legal ways to deal with that issue. The second perspective is that I travel frequently now and take cabs often. The week before Christmas I took a very very short cab ride in Charlottetown from that was less than 10 minute. Upon arrival, the cabbie demanded $16. I said you gotta be kidding? There may have been an extra word or two in my question. I refused to pay since I knew I was being ripped off. I can afford the $16 but it was the principle. We settled on a lesser amount immediately. I have never been in a city any place in North America or Europe that would have charged that price for a short ride. Perhaps these guys were faced with a surprise fare too? I am not judging jus saying there might be another side. Bottom line is that Charlottetown cabbies should have meters and published rates on the cars like the rest of the civilized world does. Then there is no surprise.

    • Elise
      January 09, 2014 - 11:27

      You are SOOOOOOOOO right!

    • chris
      January 09, 2014 - 17:33

      TO admitting You do not know what your toking about.

    • opinionated and outraged
      January 09, 2014 - 18:41

      To Benjamin, you may not have been happy with the price but Charlottetown's cab system uses a zoned mapping system to dictate their rates. Regardless of whether you are 10 minutes or an hour, your price is dictated by what zones you cross over. An informed shopper is a happy shopper. Next time, ask for a total before agreeing to pay for services rendered. I wouldn't hire any trades person without a quote, cabbie or contractor.

  • Judge Judy
    January 08, 2014 - 18:51

    You know what I would do?

    January 08, 2014 - 15:53

    There should be no question, the worker earned his pay and deserves to receive it sans trouble.

  • Allan French
    January 08, 2014 - 14:41

    Thanks folks for your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. Regarding some of the comments about the City Police; it was not my intention to put them in a bad light. I thought my actions were proper by transporting the two individuals to the police station. Because of the situation that was presented to myself and the police, they now have to make a decision based on the evidence that is before them. But it is the possible charge of unlawful confinement that has me scratching my head.

    • Jenna Burke
      January 08, 2014 - 15:25

      Couldn't what you've done be considered a citizens arrest? This doesn't make sense that you are the one who is going to be punished!

    • Jenna Burke
      January 08, 2014 - 15:26

      Couldn't what you've done be considered a citizens arrest? This doesn't make sense that you are the one who is going to be punished!

    • don
      January 09, 2014 - 07:46

      i ask myself if they get away with this these punks will do it again and maybe next time they will really hurt someone and we know they will use the i was to drunk to remember. but i think the police are protecting the criminals. but i hopoe these punks will get what they deserve soon and they will not like it boys we know you read this as you are to much of babies not to. what goes around comes around. and french i would like to see the taxi drivers stop taking drunks period that means more drunks driving or walking but the driving will mean police will have to WORK. police does not think that what you are doing is helping them but some day it will dawn on them we hope

  • Allan French
    January 08, 2014 - 14:39

    Thanks folks for your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. Regarding some of the comments about the City Police; it was not my intention to put them in a bad light. I thought my actions were proper by transporting the two individuals to the police station. Because of the situation that was presented to myself and the police, they now have to make a decision based on the evidence that is before them. But it is the possible charge of unlawful confinement that has me scratching my head.

    January 08, 2014 - 14:14

    You got to be kidding...the cops are going to charge a good samartain...No wonder the police have a bad least the cabbie kept them off the streets from driving while they were intoxicated. Hopefully the passnegers will be charged with theft. Maybe the passngers if convicted could serve community time in a Detox Centre to see their ways

    • don
      January 09, 2014 - 07:50

      i agree but these are still young babies yet they do not know what they are doing. please wait till they stop wearing pampers. besides these criminals are protected by the law and the innocent is in danger of the law and that has been proven so many times.

  • Dundas Sue
    January 08, 2014 - 12:01

    As long as it will not indrease DUI chasrges the dispatch for cab companies should take a credit card # from the caller and the destination and the charge shoukl be made regardless of the cash in someone's pocket. They wont be in business long if they make false credit card claims.

  • grapefruit
    January 08, 2014 - 12:00

    Everyone don't be daft. The Police would be chastised by the judge for tying up the court with such stupidity. Our Police are much smarter than to proceed. If antone is to be charged are the Rats that didn't pay.

  • Islander
    January 08, 2014 - 11:30

    Telling the charge up front would be a great policy. Unfortunately a lot of cab drivers would never go for it as they wouldn't get to scam their passengers.

    • tonton
      January 12, 2014 - 08:54

      You , my friend are speaking out of context. I am married to a cabbie and our family depend on what he makes at a nights work. Granted some cabbies may rip you off but it is extremely unfair to assume all do. Why should my family suffer because a few drunken fellas decide that they don't want to pay. Consider this, if on a friday night 4 people jump out on a cabbie and there rides was 10.00 , that's 40.00, and if they were a swing driver half that would be going to the owner of the car, it has now cost cabbie 20.00 to drive 4 calls around not to mention the gas and time away from other legit calls. This has been a problem and will continue to be a problem until people realize that there is conseqences for those actions. Was either young man charged with assault for stricking the cabbie? Where is the justice in this situation....

  • trying to do his job
    January 08, 2014 - 10:54

    Citizens can arrest for INDICTABLE OFFENCES...theft over $5000.00 etc ..serious offences etc ..this is a minor offence. BUT I doubt he will be charged do to the circumstances.(no intent).he would be no different than aloss prevention officer would detain you at WAL MART or Sobey's..there was a theft no doubt ...but it will have to be clarified..... they should be prepaid that hour of the am...........

  • Gene Gallant
    January 08, 2014 - 10:37

    Upfront fare would not offend anyone, some places you have to pay for your gas before you pump. this is the solution so do it!

  • don
    January 08, 2014 - 10:37

    why does the police not do something when a cabby complains? well it is simple. the laws are wrote by crooks for crooks. and as i have said many times and the crooks and police and government keeps proving me right. the law is there to protect the criminals. and this story proves it. cabbies if i was you i would STOP taking anyone that is drinking or get the fee up front. and put in a barrier to protect you from these hoodlums.

  • mike
    January 08, 2014 - 10:05

    would this not be a citizen arrest for theft. Can you not do that in Canada. I know you as a driver can pull over other drivers of police officers if they are offending so what's the difference. and its not unlawful if they stole from him.

  • LA
    January 08, 2014 - 09:53

    I don't blame him one bit. Passengers will go to great lengths to avoid paying a cab, up to and including leaving fake "purses" as security while they "run in to get some cash". If you knock on their door you get your life threatened. If the person disappears into a mall the police can't do anything anyway, but you're still collectively losing money on a constant basis with pretty much no recourse. I for one would not be offended if I was asked to pay up front. If regular customers get offended by being asked to pay ten minutes sooner than usual, then they're not very reasonable people.

  • Island moved away
    January 08, 2014 - 09:33

    Have a flat rate past certain hours in the city with a requirement to pay up front. People won't be upset about paying in advance if they know the rate is fair and remains constant. It frustrates me when I come home and the cab fares bounce depending on who you're driver is. It's a serious problem getting people home from the bars right now in the city and what is happening is only sadly encouraging those who can't get cabs to drink and drive which is scary. It seems like such a simple solution to require customers to pay in advance but it would take all the taxi companies getting on board and determining flat fares. I feel bad for Mr. French, it must be extremely frustrating dealing with those who continue to try to work the system and catch free rides. The police should be held accountable too, they need to be following up when these people who I'm sure are frequent non-payers jump cabs.

  • mike
    January 08, 2014 - 09:28

    Not condoning the passengers actions here, although there is probably more to the story. There are some great cabbies in the city, but also many mischievous ones with no ethics. They swindle drunk, desperate people when they see an opportunity i.e. extra fee's, charging multiple fares for quick stops, kicking people out in the cold. There are no set fee's posted in these cabs like there should be for # of people and location i.e. stratford, corwall, sherwood, downtown, university, and etc. A big step to improving drunk driving numbers, improve taxi services, fee structure, and availability.

  • JimBob
    January 08, 2014 - 09:27

    It is a pure and simple case of theft, when a service is not paid for. The two clowns who didn't pay for the service (the cab ride) should be charged with theft, as well as assault. If you order a meal at a restaurant and don't pay, it is theft, pure and simple.

  • Captain Canuck
    January 08, 2014 - 09:22

    The proper thing would be for the police to ask the youths if they would like to press charges. Then it can go to court where any judge will routinely dismiss the case.

  • Chris
    January 08, 2014 - 09:19

    Collect your money up front and this issues is eliminated. Locking some person in a vehicle, that is confinement. Cab driver should be charged.

    • huh
      January 08, 2014 - 11:14

      He "confined" someone who was robbing him. Oh dear, please look after the rights of the criminals who were oh so trampled on. He shouldn't be charged and he won't be.

  • Chris
    January 08, 2014 - 09:02

    Collect your fare up front and these issues are minimized. Would u like to be locked in any vehicle without being able to get out on your own accord. This is an issue of confinement.

    • Kim
      January 08, 2014 - 17:11

      This cab driver stopped at three red lights and two stop signs along the way to the police station. One of the customers opened the door and jumped out after hitting the cab driver. If this is called unlawful confinement by the other customer then he must have been really intoxicated. Someone should teach him how to open a door.

  • patsy glover
    January 08, 2014 - 08:49

    I drove taxi for star taxi years ago we I had the same problem I was out past cherry valley and he was drink and not going to pay .I just called the stand and one of the men came to my rescue he wasn't long paying.thanks (Roger)

  • Simple Peolple on this Island
    January 08, 2014 - 08:49

    First off I support the actions of this man. Too many businesses on this island are taken advantage off by theft. It's time for PEI to realize that this island is not GEntle as it is portrayed by people. I'm very close to a police officer and for a small chat with him It is clear to see that islanders are oblivious to what goes on here on PEI. Lock your doors both car and house people,. Gas stations and Cabs need to start having prepaid service. It happens else where, a bit of a inconvenience but in the long run it would stop suck idiotic thefts such as this attempt here explained by Mr. French . Good night all and may god bless.

  • Simple Peolple on this Island
    January 08, 2014 - 08:48

    First off I support the actions of this man. Too many businesses on this island are taken advantage off by theft. It's time for PEI to realize that this island is not GEntle as it is portrayed by people. I'm very close to a police officer and for a small chat with him It is clear to see that islanders are oblivious to what goes on here on PEI. Lock your doors both car and house people,. Gas stations and Cabs need to start having prepaid service. It happens else where, a bit of a inconvenience but in the long run it would stop suck idiotic thefts such as this attempt here explained by Mr. French . Good night all and may god bless.

  • Lol
    January 08, 2014 - 08:43

    All I know if a cab driver locked me in a car and drove to a different location then your suppost to go he would be getting more then a punch to the head

    • SLIPPY
      January 08, 2014 - 09:17

      Even after you just told him you planned on ripping him of? What would you do if you were in the drivers situation?

    • To LOL
      January 08, 2014 - 10:40

      All I know is if I was a cab driver and took someone to where they wanted to go and they then told me they weren't going to pay they would get more than a trip to the police station...

  • Katherine
    January 08, 2014 - 08:41

    I believe the driver did the right thing- it's the law that is being misinterpreted here .

  • Citizen's Arrest
    January 08, 2014 - 08:24

    Seems like clear case of citizen's arrest:

  • charge in advance
    January 08, 2014 - 08:13

    While I don't condone the cabbie for what he did, I think the only way to get around this is to also charge the idiots who refused to pay so they don't feel they can do this again. For the future; have cabbies ensure they get paid up front before driving anybody anywhere unless the cabbie knows you and feels he can trust you to pay him when he gets you to your destination.

  • Islander
    January 08, 2014 - 08:05

    This is just crazy this man did not do anything wrong he just wanted to be paid like we all do for services done. The law it seems now is as screwed up as the ones doing the crimes there is just no common sense to anything concerning the law in my point of view.

  • Should Be
    January 08, 2014 - 08:00

    They should be tracked down and stomped. Either way, this guy cannot be charged with anything. He was well within his rights. 'Citizen's Arrest Related to Property Crimes: Before the Act came into force, a citizen's arrest could only be made when a person was found in the act of committing a criminal offence. Now, for crimes committed on or in relation to one's property, a citizen's arrest can be made within a reasonable period of time after a person is found committing a criminal offence. This power of arrest is only authorized when there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible in the circumstances for the arrest to be made by a police officer. The law requires that when a citizen's arrest is made, the arrested individual must be delivered to a police officer without delay. If a person making a citizen's arrest does not call the police as soon as possible, the arrest might be ruled illegal, and there could be civil or criminal consequences for the person making the arrest."

  • Tammy
    January 08, 2014 - 07:48

    If it is a set rate to the destination that they are taking them then all money should be paid up front before the cabbie begins driving. That way they are assured of getting payment.

  • Give Me A Break
    January 08, 2014 - 07:44

    Unlawful confinement? Come on off it. He was transporting 2 people who were committing the crime of theft to the police station. Next thing you know anyone transported by the police without having their rights read first, will be able to charge the officers with unlawful confinement. What about the violence? Was the man charged with hitting the cab driver? The only solution will be to install video cameras in every cab, when the run off without paying hand the video over to the police. That would be pretty costly.

  • Unreal
    January 08, 2014 - 07:41

    There has to be a way to fix this and I believe the driver did the right thing -taking them to the police station. The driver should NOT be charged.

  • Franklin MacDonald
    January 08, 2014 - 07:13

    This is rediculous! If you walked out of a store without paying for the merchandise, the store has a legal right to hold you until the police come. So what is the difference here? He was not holding them at some undisclosed location. He was delivering them to the people who are supposed to uphold the law. No wonder so many people skip out on their bill when the judicial system offers no protection for the cabbies.

    • Brian
      January 08, 2014 - 10:03

      You said it correctly, Franklin..."until the police come" Each of us has the right to hold an offender with reasonable force until the police show up. But none of us has the right to transport an offender anywhere.

  • islander
    January 08, 2014 - 07:10

    so they refused to pay for a service and are getting away with it. So guess that means we can go get a meal and haircut and just tell them afterwards sorry I have no money to pay with. I also can't see where it would offend anyone if they were asked to pay up front for a cab ride, it is your decision whether you tip or not, you don't have to leave a tip.

  • Bob MacDonald
    January 08, 2014 - 06:28

    Simple solution would be to install cameras and then publish on the internet anyone that doesn't pay and they would have the proof neeeded

  • Check New Tough on Crime Happy Moose Law
    January 08, 2014 - 05:44

    Charlottetown Police better brush up on the new "Happy Mosse" law and the rights of a citizen arrest. Looks like French made the right moves and the guy who struck him needs an assault charge. Right now!!! Could the Guardian do a story on citizen arrest since new Harpers new tough on crime platform. Charlottetown keystone cops are way out in left field. funny eh?

  • islander4life
    January 08, 2014 - 05:42

    Its seems to be that all Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan did there was promote ripping off taxi's. Why isn't he holding the people responsible for not paying the taxi accountable. His comments do not make much sense to me. It sounds like he is saying "people are ripping of gas and taxi's so get your money up front ... because there is nothing we are going to do about it "

    • Don MacInnis
      January 09, 2014 - 00:52

      I drive along side Allan at night.. I also have not been paid a fare more than a few times.. Even twice in one night. We did have the police involved.. We were also told that they would do nothing. Paying the fare up front will work if it is put in the Taxi bylaw. Then every company has to follow it or risk losing a fare.

  • cory
    January 08, 2014 - 05:37

    If all taxi's have the same policy to pay up front no one would be offended. Problem solved.

  • TaxiGuyPEI
    January 08, 2014 - 05:18

    So are the police not charging the two mean with not paying as well as assault ? How is this different than a store keeper holding a shoplifting suspect ? Charlottetown Police need to get their act together

  • kyle
    January 08, 2014 - 04:03

    There is a concept called prosecutorial discretion. It allows a mature determination that extenuating circumstances estop an inequitable prosecution. In this case it should be exercised. No working man should have his livelihood endlessly lessened by fraud/theft. The real issue here is that the police want an exclusive privilege for law enforcement in circumstances in which they are ineffective. In this instance the rights of labor trump the majesty of the badge. De facto the cab driver made what is called a citizen's arrest in many jurisdictions. PEI should be one of them.