Scammy Pedicab Drivers Using Smartphone Credit Card Device To Overcharge Customers

For reasons I’ll never be able to comprehend, some visitors to New York City enjoy being chauffeured around in pedicabs, which combine the slow pace of a horse-drawn carriage with the discomfort of a rickshaw. But what these people don’t enjoy is when they find out they have been scammed out of money from pedicab drivers who use a smartphone credit card scanning app to tack on hidden fees.

The NY Post reports that a handful of scammy pedicab drivers are spoiling it for all the many decent ones by taking advantage of a feature in the Square credit card scanning app/add-on that allows them to tack on fees that the customers don’t see until they get home.

“Some say it costs extra for a transaction fee or there are taxes involved so that they can easily overcharge,” one driver who objects to the deceptive practice tells the Post.

Even though Square allows drivers to easily accept credit cards, and thus cater to cash-less customers, the acting president of the NYC Pedicab Owners Association has a problem with how easy it is to exploit the app for illegitimate purposes.

“Square just lets you charge people whatever you want,” he tells the Post. “They are helping these guys tremendously by doing this. It’s super easy to get an account and super hard for people who get cheated to find you again. Why is that?”

This all comes on the heels of another Post report about a Japanese couple who were told, after arriving at their destination in a pedicab, that the fare was $520. Feeling like they had no option but to pay, the couple handed over their card, only to find when they got home that they had been charged $720 and that a second charge had been attempted (but rejected) for $616.

City authorities are trying to obtain the identity of the driver from Square. The company requires a subpoena to turn that information over.

“We work with cardholders, credit-card companies and, when necessary, the authorities to identify fraud, resolve disputes and protect consumers from bad actors,” a Square rep explains. “We have and will continue to shut down any accounts that attempt to engage in fraud.”

Meanwhile, if you feel like taking a pedicab, may we suggest you pay in cash.