Taxi drivers in Birmingham are regarded as grumpy and surly by some passengers, a customer survey has claimed.
Complaints about the standard of service from the city’s 1,400 black cabs included claims that some cabbies go “the long way round” rather than choosing the quickest route to a destination.
People taking part in the survey were also unhappy about language barriers, claiming that taxi drivers sometimes cannot speak English.
Others complained that drivers broke health and safety rules by smoking in their cabs.
The survey, conducted by Research by Design agency for the city council, found no evidence of unmet demand for taxis, with most customers never having to queue to pick up a cab from designated ranks even at busy times.
The findings will provide further ammunition to taxi trade organisations, who have accused the council of approving too many licences and flooding Birmingham with cabs and private hire vehicles.
Taxi firms complain that drivers have to work far longer hours in order to maintain income levels.
However, claims by the firms that Birmingham does not have enough taxi ranks were not borne out by the survey.
The survey’s findings noted: “In terms of the drivers themselves, customer service is said to be mixed.
“Some drivers are described as being very friendly, chatting and helpful while others are criticised for their grumpiness.
“One person complained about drivers’ lack of comprehension of the English language, again reflecting poorly on Birmingham’s image.”
Organisers of the survey are urging the council to conduct a surveillance exercise to detect whether a small number of cabbies are “ripping off” passengers with longer and more expensive journeys than necessary.
The probe found that almost half of Birmingham’s black cabs are older than 10 years. Cabs older than 14 years have been banned by the council.
The Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association was unavailable for comment.