Cabby who allegedly returned expat passenger's phone for $165 says she only accepted $100

Submitted by Stomper N

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Update on May 13:

A woman who identified herself as a friend of the cabby has provided the latter's side of the story.

She said that the cabby had only accepted $100 in exchange for returning the phone and shared a screenshot of what the cabby told her.

Here is her response in full:

"My friend J is a professional prestige limousine driver. Black limousines are known to locals as the "expensive taxis".

"When locals see them queuing in taxi stands, people usually opt to take the next taxi because of the high base fare. So their main client base is usually the foreigners and they have to go to the airport to get customers.

"On that day itself, she advised N on two options clearly in text. The first option was to wait till Monday to go SMRT's office and the second was the more expensive option to pay.

"Clearly, the passenger M needed his phone badly to have contacted J to make an arrangement.

"Note that this arrangement is in the middle of the afternoon at 2.45pm on a SUNDAY at Fullerton in the CBD area where customers are almost nil.

"Therefore, a two-way charge was quoted because she knew she would either have to drive to the airport with an empty taxi or wait until a booking came in.

"Her working hours are usually 4pm-5am during the weekends, which is the golden period.

"The final amount paid to J was $100, not $165 as N had claimed.

"J is a single mum who is receiving no external help for her son. Apart from childcare, I am her son's main-carer.

"She opted to drive a limousine taxi because of its prestige and to earn a better wage, so that she can pay for her son's medical and school fees.

"On weekend nights, she has to leave her son with me so she can drive during the golden period and get enough rest during off-peak hours. Which mother would want to do this if not for survival?

"She quoted the price for an advanced booking stated by the limousine company and provided two choices. She even told the passenger it would be expensive as she was driving the black prestige limousine.

"The passenger could have waited till Monday and paid for a normal taxi to pick up the phone from SMRT's head office if he didn't want to pay."

Original article:

A taxi driver apparently charged an expatriate passenger $165 for returning a phone he left behind in her vehicle.

Stomper N, a friend of the expatriate, told Stomp that they had taken the driver's cab from Clarke Quay to Pan Pacific Hotel in Orchard Road at about 3.22am on Saturday (May 5).

After alighting the cab, N’s friend realised that he had left his phone behind in the taxi.

The two reportedly tried calling the phone for the next 30 minutes using N’s phone but found that the line was engaged.

At about 5.11am, the driver of the cab, using the expatriate's phone, apparently called N back to inform her that she had the phone. She told N to call her back the next morning as she was going to sleep and left her contact number.

N said that she sent a message to the driver on Sunday (May 6) at about 9am and the driver replied to her message at 11.30am.

An exchange between the two then occurred. 

Screenshots of the exchange below (Green speech bubbles are by N, while white ones are by the driver)

The driver first offered to return the phone to the office in Woodlands during her free time on Monday, and N’s friend would then be able to pick it up there.

As N’s friend needed the phone back urgently, she offered to pay the driver or book the cab so she would be able to get the phone personally.

Citing that “time is money for a taxi driver”, the driver told N it would cost $130 for the point-to-point transfer of the phone, with an additional charge of $10 for every 10 minutes that she would have to wait.

The driver also informed N that her cab would not be available for booking after 9pm on Sunday (May 6) and that she was already preoccupied during certain periods in the afternoon.

N told her friend about the driver’s offer and he subsequently called her using a housemate’s phone to arrange a meeting.

The driver later sent N a message, informing her that she was going to deliver the phone to Fullerton Bay Hotel at 2.45pm on the same day.

After the alleged exchange at the hotel, N’s friend told her that he paid the driver $165 in total for his phone.

As N’s friend had to head back to work, he paid her the money, retrieved his phone and left.

There was no explanation of how fee increased from $130 to $165 either.

N wonders if it is right of the taxi driver to do this.

“My friend really needed the phone urgently as it is his work phone."

Stomp contacted the relevant authorities on Monday (May 7) for more information on the matter.