Question:

I had a taxi driver who charged me 43 shekel for a trip that should have been 20 shekel. It was on the meter, but I suspected that he turned on the meter before I got into the car (it was out of my sight). I asked to see the receipt, but he refused. He knew that I “busted” him. May I threaten him that if he does not give me the entire ride for free that I will report him to the Misrad Hatachbura (and they will cause him big problems)? To take this to an extreme, may I threaten him that if he does not give me 500 shekel, I will report him? I do have a right to report him— perhaps an obligation to help others, so he won’t intentionally dupe others. May I do this?

Answer:

It sounds like nothing more than a suspicion, and in order for you not to pay him you have to make sure you are 100%, otherwise you are going to transgress 5 negative and one positive commandment, for stealing a worker’s pay ( if the driver is a Jew otherwise it will be less negative commandment, but still not permitted). By threatening the driver and therefore forcing him to allow you to steal from him is no different than any other form of stealing. Even if it is true that he tried stealing from you; that doesn’t give you the right to not pay him the wage that he is indeed entitled to.  Besides, you cannot be moser him on a mere suspicion.

 

Sources:

Babba Metzia 111a, CH:M 139-2, Ahavas Chesed 10-13, Nesiv Hachesed 26.

4 Responses to “Threatening a taxi driver”

  1. In this case, he refused to give me the receipt (which would be evidence of the distance traveled— refusing to give me the receipt is in of itself a “crime”). It was obvious that he did something wrong and illegal— I take that route often and I know the price. The driver admitted what he did and told me that he had to come in “all the way from the other side of town to pick me up and I am not being grateful for his work.” He also picked up other passengers along the way, despite my objections (which is my right).
    He was wrong and was doing things illegal which violate the rules of public transportation. I had every right (and perhaps moral obligation) to report him. He not only did these things, but even left me feeling bad by blaming me and making me look like the “bad guy.” Given that I could have called the Misrad Hatachbura (or at least his chevra) and that would NOT be “moser,” can I make a deal with him? If he forgoes his wage in order to get out of a fine or to avoid getting into trouble, that is his choice. He is being mochel. I would NOT be violating not paying him wages. He willingly forgave it for his own greater good. What is wrong with making a deal? This is a legal and ethical threat (as there would be nothing wrong with me calling his chevra for not providing me with honest, ethical service). He brought this upon himself— he cheated me (it is a crime to start the meter early, to dent giving me the evidence, to take other passengers, to yell me for objecting to my right as a passenger, and he is a member of a popular taxi company). Am I right? Why can I not threaten? Is it ethically or halachically wrong? I do not understand!

    • You didn’t write this in the question.

      • Now what?

        • If the driver admitted that he did something wrong then you surely don’t have to pay him for what he overcharged you. Regarding reporting him to Misrad Hatachbura I don’t think you are allowed to do it. You are not reporting him because you want the public’s safety, because otherwise you would agree to not report him if you would get a discount. You are rightfully upset, but that doesn’t automatically mean that you can report him to the authorities. Besides he has to be warned beforehand, and in this case it is possible that he truthfully won’t do it again. You may threatening him though to report him, and this might help that he actually will be afraid to repeat his crime. Regarding extorting him because he did something against the law, although he is wrong for trying to steal, that does not give you the right to steal from him, and force him to give you 500 shekel, or even to give you the ride for free. The part that he is entitled to, is his and it has to be paid, unless he is willingfully mochel it. Being mochel the money under duress of being reported, is not really being mochel wholeheartedly.

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