Saturday, 1 November 2014

ChristianPFC gets scammed by a taxi

ChristianPFC gets scammed by a taxi

(Hit by a car two weeks ago, scammed by a taxi last week, how will this end?)

In my five years of traveling to or living in Thailand, I paid more than the standard metered fare four times.

When I first arrived, I couldn’t get a taxi that uses the meter at the airport, so I agreed to 600 Baht to Sathorn.

As well on my first holiday, I used one of the “palace is closed” tuk-tuks to see how the scam works. He didn’t wait for me at the last temple, when I went back to the parking lot, I was looking around but couldn’t see him. A non-licenced taxi driver (i.e. private car, not a taxi) approached me and offered a fare that seemed reasonable, but probably more than a metered taxi would have cost.

Fast forward three years, Songkran 2013. I had a drunken boy in tow, barely able to walk, and it was Songkran, so I accepted 300 Baht fare for a ride that would usually cost 150. If I had been alone, I would have taken the bus.

Fast forward another year, to the case in the headline.

Return from Chiang Mai by bus, arrive in Mor Chit 2 on Wednesday Oct 22, 00:30 (night). Taxi touts descend on the passengers, and merely to confirm previous findings I play their game.

Where you go?
Yes, where you go?
Wait here. (But I follow him.)
Where you go?
600 Baht.
No thanks.

If I had a gun and a license to kill, I would have used both.

Walk all the way through the platforms, the main building to main road (east of the bus station). There were plenty of empty taxis west of the bus station (from where the bus was coming), closer to the platform, will try this next time.

Take the pedestrian overpass (to get a taxi going south). There are some free taxis parked along the road and a group of drivers sitting nearby. I state my destination and get in. After some minutes, I notice the meter is going faster than it should. Part of the display for distance is covered by black tape, I can only see the digits for 100 m and for kilometer (this only half, I cannot distinguish between 3 and 8), but not 10 km. Then, at a red traffic light, final proof: meter increases 400 m during the one or two minutes we stop at the traffic light. I point this out and ask if the meter is broken (but don’t understand his answer).

I have a boy waiting (already in front of my building), so I don’t want to waste time. Otherwise I might have directed him to Malaysia Hotel (where I often visit friends, so staff knows me) and report the issue to staff. I pondered taking picture of the meter and the ID, but the driver was bigger and heavier than the average Thai, about same size and weight as I.

I had my bag pack on the back seat, not worth getting into a fight if he tries to prevent me from taking pictures (even without luggage, not worth getting into a fight about taking pictures).

I memorize number and name instead (and write it down immediately after arrival). The ride was 28.7 km (as far as I could see, I think we went through 0-9 km twice) and cost 193 Baht. I give him 200 and tell him his meter is wrong and this ride usually costs 120 Baht (my guess). As far as I understand, he replies the meter is new and has not been adjusted.

Similar cases are reported here:

What would my readers have done? Has anyone experience with reporting taxi with rigged meter to hotel reception?

To set the record straight: I might have taken 400 taxi rides in all my time in Thailand, out of which 396 used the meter, 2 were beginner’s mistakes, one was emergency situation (drunken boy in tow at Songkran), one was a genuine scam. Bangkok taxis remain the most comfortable and cheapest way of individual travel in Thailand for me.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC


  1. Top 10 scams in Bangkok. Useful info.

  2. Christian, you are lucky if you get scammed so infrequently. But I agree it's really annoying, even when there's not much money involved.

    Even if you are familiar with a particular route & are certain you are being overcharged, I don't know how you can avoid paying what the meter says.

  3. It's annoying but since amount is relatively minor and Bangkok taxi scams are 1% of your total rides on quite a big statistic sample I'd chalk it off to experience.

    Taxi scams are world wide phenomena specially in places where new comers congregate / bus and rail stations and airports / and I don't think Bangkok stands out as bad , in my opinion is rather in more honest half when comes to taxi drivers

  4. I am just back from Thailand. Took a taxi from Pattaya to Bangkok 1200 baht, paid 200 in advance at the bookingstand, 1000 to be paid to the driver including highway.
    The driver asked for the 1000 immidiately, he needed to buy gas. Then he drove me to the airport explaining that he was tired, I need to change the taxi "no pay, no pay, dont worry"....

    The first that the new taxidriver asked for was highway toll. Of course I denied because I had paid to the other driver in advance.
    Result: he did not go the highway and we were stuck in traffic jam for over 2 hours.
    But he was loosing money I thought, because in the meantime he couldnt drive other customer, I was on holiday (relaxed) and in the end he did not get tip.
    I left with a good feeling !

  5. Taxis are underpaid in Bangkok esp given the grid-lock at peak times. Maybe there are too many. I would never confront a taxi too strongly over an inflated fare. You may be aware of the case involving the death by sword of the CEO of Catterpillar (Thailand ) 2 years ago. (Wonder how that trial, if any, went?).
    As I read more of your blogs I'm becoming more and more of a fan- your posts are honest, informative and helpful. I loved your pointing out of the obsolete khor KHON in the "Tam Nam Khon Isarn" blog for instance.
    You need to loosen up a bit on your meticulous grading of the boys our you'll expire on your own picard of perfection but then we ARE candy lovers in a massive candy shop so non-beggars CAN be choosers.


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