Taxis Keep Tacking On The 'Extras'

We're no longer surprised by surcharges tacked on by airlines, hotels, car-rental companies.

We're even used to taxi surcharges — those tied to fluctuating gasoline prices, toll-bridge fees, etc.

That doesn't mean we've given up eyeballing bills carefully and why we choked on the — OK, questioned — $12.50 worth of "extras" on top of a recent $13 trip from a Washington hotel to Reagan National Airport.

Yes, we've taken taxis around the world when other forms of transport won't get us where we've needed to go.

And yes, we've had fine, honest taxi drivers.

Not this time. When we lifted our suitcase into the trunk, the cab driver growled, "Let me do that. If you scratch the paint, I'll have to charge you $300 to repaint it."

So into the trunk went one large suitcase, two overhead-size pieces and a half-empty canvas tote bag. Into the car went three adults. The cabbie began clicking extras onto the meter: $3 for 2 extra adults; $2 for the large suitcase. Click. Click. Click. For extra suitcases, perhaps?

Yet nothing matched the cab's tariff chart. At the airport, our group's bill-payer — feeling, ahem, he'd been taken for a ride — said so, pointing out that he had taken down the cab number and general number to call. This didn't produce an explanation or attempt to rectify the matter. "OK, when we confirm the charges, we'll send you a tip," said the payer.

We checked with D.C. area transportation authorities later. They suggested we file a complaint online because the bill was padded with some $6 in overcharges, and we had our detailed receipt for verification. We may.

Until then, we await the next "new" taxi surcharge. Perhaps aroma-therapy? A choice of music?