A new bride is speaking out after she says a Toronto taxi company left her disabled father-in-law “stranded” on her wedding day, delaying the festivities for hours and leaving him “humiliated.”
Flora Giancola and her new husband Chris got married last weekend in Vaughan, Ont.
In order to attend the celebration, Chris’ father, who lives with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and uses an electric wheelchair, needed transportation from his home in Scarborough to Vaughan where the day’s events were taking place at a number of locations.
Giancola told CTV News Toronto that she prearranged and prepaid the ride to-and-from the venue with Beck Taxi.
When the big day rolled around, Giancola said the taxi company dropped off her soon-to-be in-laws at the first stop, the church, with no trouble, but after the ceremony was completed, they saw no sign of the taxi they’d booked to take them to a second location for photos.
With that venue booked and photographs scheduled to commence soon, Giancola said she began to worry.
“Then, my husband got a text saying the ride had been cancelled,” she said.
Giancola said she immediately called Beck multiple times, and that, despite explaining the multi-stop ride had been confirmed and prepaid ahead of time, the company just told her that Vaughan was “outside their pick-up area.”
She said she still has no idea why the company allowed her to book the trip in the first place.
CTV News Toronto reached out to Beck Taxi for comment. The company did not respond to repeated requests by the stated deadline.
The wheelchair that Chris’ father uses weighs is a very heavy piece of equipment and requires a car outfitted with a ramp to move, so when Giancola realized the Beck taxi wasn’t coming, she said she started calling “every taxi company in the city.”
“I’d literally just gotten married, we’re at the church, everyone has their phone out making calls,” she said. “Another wedding even showed up [at the church] and were waiting for us.”
Flora Giancola can be seen above on her wedding day with a phone in her hand. The newlywed says her father-in-law was left stranded for hours on the church steps after a Toronto taxi company failed to pick him up. (Handout by Giancola)
After two hours of attempting to coordinate a driver to come to Vaughan on a Saturday, a ride was finally secured for Chris’ father – for what Giancola described as a “large sum of money.”
“It was humiliating for him,” Giancola said. “He was just stranded. At one point, we didn’t know if we were going to have to ditch his chair and call paramedics.”
By then, the newlyweds had been shepherded off —albeit significantly later than planned — to have their photographs taken while Giancola’s parents waited with Chris’ father at the church for another hour or so.
“I couldn’t believe it. How, in Canada, are we in a situation where there’s almost no way to get a disabled man to his home?” she asked.
“We had to pay a lot of money and luckily we had the means to pay for this specialized company, but it’s like how did it get to this point?”
Giancola said after the weekend she called Beck Taxi again and was in touch with a customer service agent, but was eventually once again hung up on.
“I just want [the taxi company] to acknowledge what happened here and understand that they need to change their processes,” she said.
“They shouldn’t be driving people in wheelchairs to places they can’t pick them up, especially without telling them as much.”
Analysis from the most recent Canadian Survey on Disability shows that more than 700,000 Canadians with disabilities were unable to leave their home due to their condition or health problems.
More than half a million Canadians with mobility disabilities considered themselves housebound due to their condition, the survey states – about a fifth said it was due to a lack of accessible transportation.
“I can’t imagine what would have happened if someone in a similar situation as my father-in-law was stranded on their own, without someone capable of making calls to find an alternative,” Giancola said.
“It can’t happen to another person.”
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