It’s an all-too-common story.
It’s dark, and after having a few drinks with friends at the
end of a long work week, you’re ready to go home. Except the
cab won’t take you.
Trying to get back to Capitol Hill? Unlikely. Arlington? Forget about it.
floated by Ward 3 council member
Mary Cheh is the answer. But if not, there is always the power of the Internet.
“Not only is this not acceptable,” says
Daniel Hornal, an attorney at Talos Law, of the cabs’ practice, “it is not legal.”
Hornal, who specializes in consumer protection, created a
bit of a stir
last month when he outlined a plan online to take on taxis that
don’t follow the rules. Now he’s not alone.
Through the power of social media, Hornal and the
folks over at Brink Creative Digital, creators of the website DC Cabs
got together to educate the public about their rights as cab passengers in a
The connection came about through the social news site
Reddit on the website’s local DC “subreddit.” Hornal had previously
posted a plan to bring consumer protection litigation against
taxis that break laws such as refusing to take passengers because
of their destination or forcing them to share a cab.
The response was immediate. The post is currently the 32nd most popular of all time in the subreddit, and many of the responses
were people unloading their own horror stories, he says.
“Once we do that enough times I think things are going to start changing,” he says, though he points out even if he wins every
case, “I’m still not going to make any money.”
When Brink’s members posted their site weeks later, other Reddit users suggested they talk with Hornal, says
Joshua Belhumeur, Brink’s director of marking and head of the company’s DC office.
“We were looking for a way to flex our creative muscles,” says Belhumeur, “and I said, ‘Hey, lets do DCcabssuck.com.’”
It was only a half-serious suggestion, and at first it was only a half-serious website. But as it started to take shape, they
could see it had potential.
“It had a bit of life to it, and [we thought] it could maybe do some good. So that’s when we reached out to Daniel—so it could
have focus and a purpose,” says Belhumeur.
Their best advice for when you’re in a sticky cab situation? Pull out your cell phone and record.
“They will be much less likely to violate your rights,” says Hornal. “And then [the recording] can be used as evidence.”
Even though the response to the site as been “overwhelming,” says Belhumeur, they don’t have any plans to expand it. However
that doesn’t mean their days of satire are over.
“I think we definitely hit a nerve with our type of humor, so the obvious next targets may be Pepco and Metro,” he says.