Our undercover producers are hailing cabs for just one reason.


We want to see if they will let them pay with a credit card.

If you've been in the back seat of a Boston cab lately, you've seen the fancy brand new machines. Last July, the city's Hackney division — part of the Boston Police Department — told drivers: You've got to take plastic, or you can't take passengers.

Mark Cohen, Director of Licensing, Boston Police Dept. "The police department is absolutely dedicated to make this work."

We found lots of cabs were with the program we hopped in, tapped the screen, swiped the card and were on our way. But we found some cab drivers trying to trick passengers into paying cash.

Watch this: "Do you take credit cards?"

The driver first asks: "How much cash do you have?" And then he tells our producer his credit card machine "doesn't always work." Knowing the score, she pushes the buttons, and it works just fine.

And our investigation found passengers say this driving deception is happening all over town.

Taxi Passengers:"They say oh no the credit card machine is broken today."

"There will be a sign right by the credit card machine, or over the credit card machine, that says its broken."

"They'll insist that the machine is broken."

But then, when these savvy passengers insisted they had no cash, suddenly the machines were fine.

Taxi Passengers:

"It always works."

"If I try it, it does work."

"First it was broken, then it worked."

Officials admit, they know the "machine is broken" line is frequently just a line.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"How often are the drivers just not telling the truth?"

Mark Cohen, Director of Licensing, Boston Police Dept. "More often than not."

In fact, over and over, drivers told our undercover riders their machines were out of order.

And it's not just us. We found complaints about this are pouring into the police department. Just since last July, they've gotten 245 of them. That's more than one every day.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"That's a lot of complaints."

Mark Cohen, Director of Licensing, Boston Police Dept. "Well, I think we have our work cut out for us."

Why would cabbies do it? Credit card companies charge the drivers a fee for each transaction, so that mean they make less money for each trip. If they can get you to pay in cash, they cash in. That's against the rules, but here's what drivers don't know.

Police showed us this computer in police headquarters. It runs 24/7, recording and storing every taxi trip and every taxi transaction. So when customers report a broken credit card machine, the police can check to see if the claim is true.

Mark Cohen, Director of Licensing, Boston Police Dept. What will happen is we we bring that driver in, and if he doesn't have a good reason, there's a chance that he will lose his license for a day or two.

Police hope cabbies will realize that in the long run taking credit cards is a good thing, encouraging more passengers and bringing bigger tips. But if you think you've been deceived, check out the link below for how to report it!

In the newsroom, I'm Hank Philippi Ryan.

To report something to Boston Police Hackney's Division: http://www.cityofboston.gov/police/taxi.asp

(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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