Ottawa taxicabs are an important part of Ottawa’s transportation network making more than 20,000 trips each and every day and only a fraction of one per cent of those ever result in a complaint.
Part of reason that complaint levels are so low is that successful completion of Algonquin College’s Taxi Customer Service course is a mandatory requirement of the job. This course covers bylaws and safety, customer service techniques and etiquette which pertain to the taxi business, communication skills, tourism, sensitivity training and service to special needs clients. This is one of three courses that must be successfully completed by anyone wanting to drive an Ottawa taxi.
Once a driver is hired, orientation training is provided by the taxi companies which focuses on customer service, sensitivity training and safety equipment.
When complaints are received they are most commonly related to waiting times or the cleanliness of a cab. Occasionally, there are comments about drivers’ manners or behaviours such as talking on the phone or making U-turns. On rare occasions allegations of fraud, sexual misconduct and assault have been made.
Anyone wishing to make a complaint is encouraged to call the cab company. In addition every Ottawa cab has tariff card posted which encourages passengers to contact the City of Ottawa by dialling 3-1-1 or emailing email@example.com to make a complaint.
Ottawa’s taxi companies have an established process designed to resolve complaints quickly and efficiently. The companies’ customer service specialist will take the call during regular business hours. Outside of office hours our customer service representatives will take the call, collect the information and pass it along to management.
The specialist will discuss the problem with the customer and will record important information about the incident such as the day and time of the incident, the origin of the fare, how the taxi was hailed, the driver’s ID and/or the taxi’s plate number. If relevant, a description of the driver is also recorded.
Company executives are informed of all complaints and are involved in resolving those that are serious or complex. All parties involved play a role in resolving a complaint including the complainant, the taxi drivers’ union, the driver and members of the taxi company’s senior management team.
All drivers will be notified of the complaints, and they may undergo retraining covering customer service, sensitivity training and a review of sexual harassment and workplace violence policies.
Ottawa’s taxicab companies have clear, detailed policies on sexual harassment and workplace violence. Corrective or disciplinary action may be taken against any drivers who are proven to have contravened these policies. A drivers’ work performance and track record are taken into consideration and retraining, suspension or dismissal are all options.
On those rare occasion when a serious allegation, such as fraud, assault or sexual misconduct, is made, the customer is encouraged to contact the police immediately. This is an important step in verifying the investigation into the complaint because only the police can check the video files from the in-cab cameras, often a key proof point for serious claims.
Ottawa’s taxicab companies take customer complaints very seriously. Customers who are not satisfied with the service they receive have a right to make a complaint and are encouraged to do so.
Not all complaints are reported to the City but allegations of a serious or criminal nature are reported immediately to the City of Ottawa By-law and Regulatory Services Branch Taxi Regulation Office. The City will conduct an independent investigation working with the Ottawa Police Service, the taxi company, the driver and the drivers’ union to resolve complaints quickly. The City’s Licensing Committee has the power to suspend any driver who is the subject of a serious complaint while the investigation is underway. It can also revoke a taxicab driver’s license for anything which may be adverse to the public interest.