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Booking Service Providers - your consumer obligations

The Commercial Passenger Vehicle Industry Bill 2017 passed through the Victorian parliament on 10 August 2017. Information about the changes is available on the Industry reforms page.

As these changes will be taking effect in stages, low cost licences are not yet available to purchase.

Until further notice, existing licensing and assignment arrangements will continue to apply.

The Taxi Services Commission (TSC) regularly receives complaints about booked taxis "not turning up" or not being on time. If you are an Booking Service Provider (BSP) receiving complaints about missed flights or meetings, you may need to reconsider the information you provide to consumers about booking taxis and the way that you dispatch jobs.

Passenger expectations

Many consumers believe that if they book a taxi through an BSP, for example the night before, a taxi is specifically allocated to that job for that time. The reality though is the job is still broadcast via the dispatch system around the time of the booking like any other incoming job would be.

In some instances, no one accepts the booking or is slow to accept which results in a "no show" or delayed pick up for the customer. This leads to customer frustration, decreased consumer confidence in the industry and sometimes financial loss for the consumer.

Service delivery

Unfortunately, some BSPs refuse to deal with customer complaints about drivers not accepting booked jobs because it's up to a driver on whether they accept a job. However, BSPs may not be "off the hook" if they have given the impression that a confirmed booking has been accepted for a particular time under Australian Consumer Law.

Services provided by BSPs are covered by the Australian Consumer Law which means that a BSP must not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct. Services provided by an BSP must be:

  • provided with due care and skill
  • reasonably fit for the purpose for which they are being acquired
  • of a standard expected to achieve the desired result of the consumer
  • supplied within a reasonable time.

Customers who receive confirmation that their booking is confirmed may be able to make a claim against an BSP is they suffer financial loss, for example, if they miss a flight and have to pay for a ticket change. If a consumer does not receive a satisfactory response to a complaint to an BSP, they may decide to take their complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria or to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Such action could lead to the BSP being ordered to pay compensation and negative publicity for the BSP.

To avoid these situations, BSPs need to be careful that they don't mislead customers about the status of a booking. They may also need to ensure that they allow sufficient time for the booked job to be accepted by a driver.

Improving your service delivery

It is recommended that all BSPs regularly review the information they provide in relation to bookings. BSPs may also need to reconsider the way they dispatch booked jobs and their complaint handling procedures in relation to booked jobs.

The above information is of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. BSPs should consider their individual circumstances and obtain independent legal advice.

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