I don't drive, and today I was running late, so I decided to take a cab to school, rather than the two busses I usually take. I called the cab company and one of the first things they asked me was whether I was paying with cash or credit. This is so they don't send cab drivers who can't take cards out to people who only have cash. Well, I didn't have any cash on me, so I said I would pay with credit.
When the cab driver got to my apartment, he said his credit card machine was down. I said I didn't have any cash, and started to get out of the cab. He said he would take me for free. I thought this was a little weird, but whatever. Like, I know that no one does anything for free, but that is exactly what he said, so I took him at his word. I guess I shouldn't have. Whatever. I stayed in the cab.
When I got to school, I asked him if he could take an imprint of my card so that he could run it later. He said he couldn't do that, but he said he was going to take me to a convenience store so I could buy something with my debit card and get cash back. I told him I was running late and I really needed to go. I was ready to get out of the car at this point. I felt bad for him that he wouldn't get paid, but I had specified that I didn't have cash on me when I called the cab company - so it wasn't really my fault. He said it wouldn't take very long and he started driving again! He took me to a convenience store. I didn't really want to buy something I didn't need (this was not part of the service that I had signed up for when I called a cab), but I was weirded out and sort of on auto-pilot. So I went in and there was a sign at the register that said "no cash back". So I walked back out and told him that there was no cash back. He motioned for me to get back in. I told him that I was REALLY late now. He drove me to another gas station. Man, I shouldn't have even have gotten back in, but I wasn't sure what to do, and I wasn't thinking I guess. At this point though, I spoke up and told him that I really wasn't comfortable with this, that I wasn't about to buy something I didn't need, and if his credit card machine wasn't working, he should have let another cab take the call. He started lecturing me on how he was just trying to make a living, and I had to help him out. I told him that I understood, but this wasn't what I had agreed to. He said he wasn't let me going to have the ride for free. I told him that I wasn't going to waste anymore time by going into random convenience stores, and I wasn't going to buy something I didn't need. He could take an imprint of my card, as that's how I said I was going to pay, but that was it. He said he didn't even have the imprint device with him. Fine. I got out of the cab and decided to walk where I was going. I was now reallllllly late, and on the wrong side of the campus. I walked for about five minutes(?) and a cop approached me. He said that he had been told I walked out of a cab without paying. I told him what happened, and he told me to tell my story to another cop who was there, while he got the cab driver. At this point I was crying and shaking. I've NEVER been in trouble with the police. When the cab driver showed up, he saw I was crying and he said, okay, okay, just forget about it. The police officer told him that I hadn't committed any crime, so I wouldn't have been in trouble anyway.
I'm still upset about this. I didn't want to not pay him, but I also didn't think that I should be required to buy something I didn't even need. It also really bothered me that he said one thing and did another, and that he took me to where I was going, changed his mind, and started driving me all over town, making me really late. AND I was really embarrassed when the police started questioning me! It sucks not to be paid, but he didn't have to take the call in the first place, so WTF?