ANOTHER city Private Hire firm has been punished after overcharging a blind woman for bringing her guide dog into the cab.
Private hire firm Towncars will have to fork out a total of £565 after charging grandmother Yvonne Saint-John an extra £1 for bringing her guide dog Quaid (2) into the private hire car.
This was on top of her £8 agreed fare from Peterborough city centre to her home in Glinton on September 23.
It came after Miss Saint-John had been overcharged by another private hire firm, Eagle Cars, on three separate occasions in August and September last year.
Miss Saint-John said she hopes the two cases will raise awareness in the city’s private hire industry about how they treat the disabled.
She said: “I just want the state of play to be the same for everybody.
“It’s not just these two firms, I have called several private hire firms in the city asking for a car, only to hear the price increases markedly when I tell them I will be bringing my guide dog.
“In some cases it’s small, but one firm quoted me £8 without the dog, and £12.80 with the dog.
“I won’t be using the firms that overcharged me again.
“However, with Towncars I have to say that the driver did not want to charge me the extra pound, that order came from the office.”
Towncars proprietor Shakeel Rehman did not attend Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday but was found guilty in his absence for failing to comply with a duty to carry a guide dog and was fined £200.
He was also fined £100 for failing to keep records correctly as per the licence agreement with Peterborough City Council, after a council investigation found that comprehensive details of Miss Saint-John’s request were not taken down.
He was also ordered to pay £250 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Cllr Peter Hiller, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and planning, said it is important the city’s licensed providers adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which protects disabled passengers from having to pay extra fees to bring guide dogs in taxis.
He said: “This is the second similar case in a week and again sends a strong message that the city council takes complaints made against private hire companies seriously.
“These equality acts are there to ensure that every single person is entitled to the same standard of service and, in this case, at the same price, regardless of their personal circumstances.
“It is also important that private hire companies keep appropriate records such as the name of the customer, quoted prices, pick up address and destination.”
Eagle Cars were brought before Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, February 22, and fined £435 for unfairly overcharging Miss Saint-John and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £15 surcharge.
Caroline Weston, Guide Dogs’ senior public affairs officer, said: “Guide dogs provide freedom and independence to thousands of blind and partially sighted people every year.
“But that independence is taken away when they are denied access to public facilities like taxis.”
Towncars were not available to comment.