One August night after bar close, 24-year-old Devin Walton and his girlfriend hailed a cab downtown. As soon as they climbed in, Walton’s girlfriend felt a sharp pain in her leg.
They didn’t think much of it until they got out in front of their Northeast duplex, when they looked back and found a spread of tiny white bugs crawling all over the back seat.
The next day, Walton’s girlfriend developed itchy welts all over her body. They found carcasses in their bed, and a live bug on the floor. They bought a self-treatment kit from Home Depot, which did nothing. Then, they called an exterminator who identified the pests as bed bugs.
Hoping to alert Checker Cab Company to its infestation problem, Walton spoke to a guy named “Barry” on the phone.
“They basically took an accusatory tone with us from the beginning,” Walton says. Barry promised he would look into it, then he said he couldn’t find their debit card charge, then he couldn’t find the driver. Months later, he dismissed the Walton’s complaint, claiming Checker Cab Company has never had a bed bug problem before.
“Just acknowledge the fact that you have them, address the situation,” Walton says. “If they don’t acknowledge it or tell people, they’re going to spread it all over the city.”
Checker Cab Company did not respond to City Pages after multiple requests for comment.
Local exterminator Glenn Buggs from Buggs Pest Control isn’t surprised that the Waltons took home bedbugs from a taxi. He’s treated a number of families with the same story, as well as a few cars. Travelers carry them in via their coats and their luggage, and the bugs live comfortably in the upholstery. Cabs are always on the move, so it never gets too cold inside, he says.
“It’s hard to blame them because just like someone can take them out of a taxi, someone could bring them in to a taxi,” Buggs says. “Myself, I’d walk five miles before I get in a taxi just because of the thought of it.”