Taxi passengers driven to despair

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The Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet) wants a public review of Norway’s taxi industry, amidst claims that customers often feel unsafe, misled and unsatisfied with the service but powerless to complain. Norwegian taxis are also too expensive, claims the council.

Taxis are plentiful in Norway, but not always popular. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Taxis are plentiful in Norway, but not always popular. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

According to a Consumer Council survey, four out of 10 taxi customers were unhappy with the level of service and half of the respondents believe it’s too difficult to file a complaint, reports newspaper Dagsavisen. More than 20 per cent say it is not safe to take a taxi in Norway, and 34 percent say it’s easy for customers to be duped.

A Consumer Council investigation earlier this year claimed the industry’s outdated organization is hindering quality and price competition. Many drivers get little training in service skills and geography and speak poor Norwegian, while lifelong licences make it difficult to remove people unsuited to be taxi drivers.

Both the Conservative (Høyre) and Progress (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) parties have vowed to reform the taxi business in their government platforms, but the Consumer Council warns there is no simple solution. “The authorities must undertake a thorough investigation of the taxi business, because we cannot think it can be solved overnight,” Council director Randi Flesland has told Dagsavisen. 

Despite revelations of widespread tax and social security fraud 10 years ago and a promise by the former Justice minister Knut Storberget (Arbeidspartiet) in 2007 to take the industry in hand, few changes have been made. Dagsavisen reports only two out of six main recommendations proposed by a working group investigating the industry have been undertaken, and new rules about taxi metres and tariffs won’t come in until next autumn. A new law is in place enabling the sharing of information between state welfare agency NAV and insurance companies.

The Consumer Council has asked Transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen (Frp) to undertake a public investigation of the industry. Flesland has also invited the taxi industry, counties and other authorities to a conference to discuss the industry going forward. She says while the wide availability of taxis is a positive, the survey shows a need for further change.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate