As a taxi driver, do you ever find yourself shouting after a customer because they’ve left something in your cab?

While it’s amusing to look back at some of the weird and wonderful items that passengers have somehow forgotten about, dealing with them at the time can prove pretty irritating and time-consuming for cabbies.

What do you do if someone leaves their pet cat on your back seat after a trip to the vets? You’d like to think that you’d spot the cat before the owner disappeared, but these things can happen.

The idea for this article was prompted by a list of the weirdest things left in an Uber – and yes, a cat was on the list. No, we’re not sure how that’s possible either!

As a taxi driver, however, you become accustomed to seeing the unexpected.

Usually, the unexpected is harmless enough – but every now and again, it can result in damage to your taxi and leave you with a real headache.

For taxi drivers, a taxi is much more than just a vehicle, it’s their way of making money. That’s why it should always be protected with specialist taxi insurance.

Given the long, unsociable hours that taxi drivers work, it’s understandable that insurance premiums might be higher than for your average driver.

But here at Taxi Insurer, we can help you find a policy that suits your needs and your budget.

More about taxi insurance later, but let’s get a full rundown of the strangest things ever left in a taxi, as per Uber’s list. Can you beat any of these?

A yellow taxi in traffic on a busy London road with a red telephone box on the corner of the road

The top 25 weirdest items left behind on Uber journeys in the UK this year

The following items were found between February 2018 and February 2019.

We must point out that passengers are more likely to leave something behind in an Uber taxi because the fare is paid automatically once the ride is complete.

In a more traditional taxi journey, there would be a dialogue between the passenger and the driver increasing the chances of stray items being spotted.

But that’s not to say that items don’t go astray in the back of a taxi, especially when it’s dark.

Take a look at Uber’s list:

  1. 45 pieces of fried chicken
  2. A painting of The Last Supper
  3. Fake skull
  4. Nando’s uniform
  5. Five toilet rolls
  6. A cat (yes, a real cat!)
  7. The script of Legally Blonde
  8. Purple travel potty
  9. Ukulele
  10. Smoke machine
  11. Herbs in a jar
  12. Partial teeth dentures
  13. Two vodka cranberry and 20 Sovereign Blue
  14. An electric scooter
  15. GCSE art project
  16. Masonic apron
  17. Panini maker
  18. Pewter drinking tankard
  19. SNES games console
  20. A KFC meal
  21. "Italian Panettone that's a present for my niece"
  22. Return train ticket to Scotland
  23. Vegan sausage roll
  24. Bros poster
  25. A tooth
  26. … and "My dignity"
  27. … and "My pride"

 

A spokesperson for Uber said: “We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when you realise you’ve left something behind in a car, plane, bus, or train, only to realise the chances of getting that item back are slim.

“Because Uber offers 24/7 in-app support and records the details of your trip, you’re much more likely to be reunited with your belongings, especially when you can call your driver directly from the app to arrange its safe delivery back to you.”

It’s a good point made by Uber.

Their technology means that, if a driver does end up with a frenzied feline on their hands, they could feasibly get in touch with the passenger it belongs to and return it.

Passengers can also initiate the dialogue with their Uber driver if they think left an item during a ride.

All they have to do is select the corresponding trip on their app and tap “I lost an item” and then “Contact driver about a lost item” where the passenger can leave their telephone number.

For a taxi driver in a public hire vehicle, where they do not require pre-booking and can be hailed in the street, they’re unlikely to have any of the passenger’s details, making returning lost items that bit more difficult.

A union flag covered taxi driving on a busy London street

What are the most commonly forgotten items?

Of course, it’s not just the weird and the wonderful that gets left on back seats – here are some of the more everyday items forgotten in cabs:

 

Handbag

One of the most common items taxi drivers find in their taxi is a handbag.

As you can imagine, this is every person’s worst nightmare, as a handbag contains many of their most important and personal items.

You’d think it would be quite hard to misplace a handbag, but when you’re busy it’s possible to forget anything.

If you manage to return a handbag to its rightful owner, you’re definitely winning in the customer service stakes.

 

Keys

Is there a person who has never lost a set of keys in their life? We doubt it!

Losing your keys is such a headache if you haven’t got a spare set easily available – it can mean having to get a locksmith out to change the locks or if they’re car keys, calling out a roadside recovery company who will be able to cut a new one, but it won’t come cheap.

The difficulty with finding keys in the back of the taxi is you can’t really return them to their owner unless they remember to call the company and check.

 

Mobile phone

We’re spending more time on our smartphones than ever, so you’d think it would be pretty unlikely to leave it behind.

But if somebody has been out drinking that night, it’s quite easy to be a bit absent minded. Smartphones hold lots of personal data, so if it ended up in the wrong hands it could prove a significant security threat for its owner.

In terms of returning a smartphone, they are often password protected so it can be difficult to retrieve details on who it belongs to and make contact.

But there’s always a chance that the owner will make attempts to call the phone in an attempt to locate it.

 

Coat

As we move into the colder months, you’ll probably see your fair share of coats and jackets left on the backseat – especially if you have a nice warm taxi, as passengers will take them off so that they don’t overheat.

A coat can might contain the three biggies: phone, wallet/purse and keys. So, you should make every effort to return it to its rightful owner, where possible.

Other common items left in taxis include a camera, glasses, headphones, vapes and ID/licence cards.

 

What should you do with a lost item?

A hand holding a pair of lost keys

It goes without saying that you’ll want to return any lost items to their rightful owners. But if you’ve not got their contact details to hand, what should you do?

If you work for a taxi company, they’ll probably have a policy for you to follow.

It’s often as simple as handing any lost items into the local police station who will store them securely. Not only is that the right thing to do, it’s about abiding by the letter of the law.

Section 2 of the Theft Act 1968 ensures that any belongings are held in safety and reunited with the owner whenever it’s possible to do so. When not possible, the items are disposed of in a fair manner.

In London, property found in a traditional black cab is handed in at a London police station and forwarded to the TfL Lost Property Office.

Property can take up to five working days to arrive at the Lost Property Office.

 

Why is important to deal with lost property professionally?

A man talking to a taxi driver through the window of a taxi

Returning lost property to its rightful owners is all part and parcel of providing good customer service.

It’s never been more important to ensure that customers feel they are being given great service. Take Uber, for example, where drivers are rated out of five by their passengers for each and every ride.

With more competition that ever in the taxi industry, you can make yourself stand out and secure repeat business by treating passengers as you’d like to be treated.

With that in mind, here are seven customer service tips to keep in mind every time you get behind the wheel of your taxi:

 

Customer service tip #1: Set a welcoming tone from the off

Often passengers step into a taxi without any idea of what to expect – some people can even be quite nervous about the prospect.

So, try to put them at ease right away with a warm and friendly welcome.

Depending on their response, you can judge whether they’d like to have a chat during the journey or prefer a quiet ride, so don’t be overly friendly.

 

Customer service tip #2: Lend a hand

If a passenger has a bag, suitcase or other large item, don’t just watch them struggle, lend a hand.

Offer to put their suitcase in the boot for them. Open the door for them to make it easy for them to take their seat in your vehicle.

They might only seem like little things but they can make a big difference to passengers. 

 

Customer service tip #3: Adapt to your passenger

A good driver is able to adapt the conversation according to what their passengers tells them.

This means using appropriate language, keeping the conversation light, and never taking personal phone calls.

If you feel under threat, always try to stay with your taxi and call for back-up.

A taxi driving past a hotel in London

Customer service tip #4: Keep it clean

As well as keeping any conversation clean and sanitised, you should ensure your vehicle is spick and span.

Passengers will base their first impression on the state of your vehicle – not only that, they don’t want to get their clothes dirty or ruined just from sitting down.

So, take some time to clear your car of any rubbish after every trip and clean it thoroughly at least a couple of times a week.

Do a weekly, walkaround safety check, too, to make sure everything is in good working order.

 

Customer service tip #5: Say thank you

A customer has a large number of cabs to choose from, and they picked yours – so at the end of the ride, be sure to thank them for using your company.

This customer service tip especially applies to large cities, where people can be overly-stressed and not thanked enough. Politeness costs nothing.

 

Customer service tip #6: Take extra care with disabled passengers

Every customer is special, but disabled customers have extra needs that you should cater for.

Often it’s just a case of asking what you can do for them to make their trip as comfortable as possible.

Over time, you will learn what certain passengers want from you, so you won’t even need to ask. But, remember not to overdo it.

At the end of the day, they probably just want to be treated the same as everyone else.

A number of taxis driving past Harrods in London

Customer service tip #7: Check for lost property

Bringing things full circle, at the end of each trip, check to see if your passengers have left anything behind (if you have enough time).

Usually, taxi drivers who return lost items quickly earn a good reputation and acquire repeat business.

 

Get a quote for taxi insurance

To drive a taxi, you’ll need to take out specialist taxi insurance to meet your legal obligations as a road user as ordinary car insurance won’t be valid.

Here at Taxi Insurer, we can help you find a taxi insurance policy that suits your needs and we can work out a payment plan to make your payments manageable alongside all the other business expenses.

Benefits of arranging taxi insurance through Taxi Insurer can include*:

  • Unique rates for public and private hire vehicles
  • Flexible payment options
  • Public Liability cover·             
  • Employer’s Liability cover

With Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third party only cover available, get a quick quote for taxi insurance today.

Protect your taxi and get a quote today.

*All features and benefits are subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria

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