Harpenden man records footage of taxi driver telling him wheelchairs incur surcharge

Mike Joiner

Mike Joiner - Credit: Archant

A disabled Harpenden man has once again recorded evidence of a taxi driver telling him he is being charged extra for a wheelchair-compatible vehicle.

The incident happened on February 16, when Mike Joiner ordered an A1 Taxi from his home for a 1.7mile journey to Spire Harpenden Hospital.

Mike has a rare condition called Addison’s disease which means his body does not produce enough cortisol – leaving him extremely fatigued, sometimes confused, and with such little muscle mass that he needs a wheelchair to get out of the house.

When the vehicle arrived, the 53-year-old recorded his conversation with the driver.

Mike said: “You don’t charge excess do you, for the chair?”

The driver replied: “Yeah, we do.” He then said the surcharge starts at £7, “or something like that”.

Charging extra for wheelchair users became illegal in April 2017 under the Equality Act 2010 for both private hire and taxis, on penalty of an £1,000 fine and a licence review.

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This is not the first time Mike has been in this situation - in June 2017 the Herts Advertiser published a recording of a different taxi firm doubling his fare because of the wheelchair.

Mike said: “Discrimination is all around us, from people walking down the street who think it is easier for me to go into road around them - these people are just arrogant. When it comes to companies there should be no excuses.”

He described it as “degrading” and has since complained to St Albans district council (SADC).

A spokesperson from SADC said: “I can confirm we received a complaint that there has been a breach of the Equalities Act by a taxi firm and we are now investigating this.

“We take such investigations very seriously.”

A1 Taxis deny the accusations: “The customer who made the booking was advised that to accommodate his requirements there would be an element of an extra charge, by reason of the fact a larger vehicle was required to accommodate the customer’s requirements and the fact that the only vehicle available was located in St Albans and would have to do the additional travelling time from St Albans to Harpenden.

“Had the customer not agreed, no vehicle would have been dispatched.

“At all times A1 Taxis strive to comply with licensing requirements.”

The spokesperson noted that Mike has not complained directly to A1 Taxis, but if he did it would be investigated accordingly.