Tom & Holly vs Taxi Driver

This story was made possible by Holly. All credit to her for everything described below I was too hungover to do anything about it but her efforts were all worth it

I have heard from many people in many places (mainly LEDC’s) that the people are lovely, but the taxi drivers are c*nts. So here is how we beat one

In short: we had a long journey by taxi (maybe 40 minutes), and the driver took us on a huge detour to charge us more. We said we wouldn’t pay so he took us to the police station. We won, just. HA

Before I start, you will need a few things to be able to replicate what we did. So we had a phone with data and Google maps. I reckon it is still possible without data though so read on and make your own plans. We also took screen shots of the map along the way but if you can’t do that then you can always take a photo of the screen from another camera. And finally, we had a camera to take pictures of the meter.

SO

We were both very hung over and tired, and were getting a taxi from the main airport in to Bangkok. We got in a taxi, one of the ‘approved’ ones from the airport and set off to Bangkok. Holly had the insight to plug in the route on Google Maps and it said it should take 40 minutes or whatever it was, and also showed us the route. (If you don’t have data you could get the route up and screen shot it whilst at a WiFi place. You then have proof of how long the journey should have been. Then just take a photo of the meter after the time it should have taken to get there.)

For the first half of the journey all was well, but then the driver took us off the wrong way. Holly told the driver but he ignored her and carried on regardless. So she turned the volume up on the Google maps and it started yelling at him when he was going wrong (me being English, recoiled in to my seat, but she was right and I was being a wuss).

Anyway he took us along a long stretch of motorway, and then pulled off, and did a U-turn. effectively adding another 20 minutes to the journey. Bla bla bla you get the point. So, what we did that allowed us to only pay what we should have paid:

  1. Before we left, we got the route on Google maps, and took a screen shot. This showed how long the journey should have taken
  2. Along the way we screen shot when the taxi driver took the wrong route
  3. We took a photo of the meter at 40 minutes to show how much we were willing to pay, as this was how long the journey should have taken.

So when we arrived near the destination, we said we were only paying what the journey had cost at 40 minutes. The taxi driver argued and said he would take us to the police station, so we said, ‘OK BEEEATCH, Take us there’. And he did.

He wouldn’t let us take our bags out the boot so Holly went in with her evidence and the driver to talk to the police, whilst I waited with the car.

They were in there for a good 15 minutes and I got a bit worried, but then they both emerged and Holly looked smug. I knew we had won. She reported to me that the police tried to side with the driver but there was a female officer there who sided with Holly once she had seen the photos. So we only had to pay what the journey cost at 40 minutes

Now, in the end it was only about 50 Baht, which is about£1. But a) that’s a meal in Thailand, and b) he had gone out of his way to rip us off, and winning in that respect was flippin awesome. The guy was a sneaky little shit and we beat him.

It was difficult, required constant monitoring along the journey, and a bit of luck with the nice police woman, but if you are watching your budget, and don’t like getting ripped off, then here’s a good way to stay on top of the taxis.

Another tip for Thailand, which applies in other countries, is not to agree a price up front. They try and charge usually over twice what it should be. Always ask for the meter. Best to know that from the start

Here’s a photo of Holly pulling her ‘take that, beeetch’ pose

FH000007

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4 comments

  1. In this instance you were probably right since you got the police to agree with you (not an easy task in Thailand most of the time). But your recommendations here will most likely only lead to unnecessary complications for fellow travelers.

    Using Google maps in Bangkok doesn’t work very well at all (I know, I work in the travel biz here and have tried that many times). Especially the estimated time it takes to get somewhere. It normally takes much longer than they estimate. They also most of the time do not take into account one way streets (for example many streets are one way in the morning and one way the other way in the afternoon) and many other things, so the route they show is usually wrong. Also highways go in loops around the city most of the time so although it might look like you are going in the wrong direction that might not actually be the case.

    And honestly, making that much hassle and losing precious holiday time over 50 baht? OK you might have won a moral victory over a sleazy taxi driver. But to describe Bangkok’s taxi drivers as c*nts because of your experience is just plain wrong. Most of them are honest and work hard for very little money.

    The only recommendation I would follow from this post is to always insist on the taxi using the meter.

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    • Thanks for the comment, thats good to know.

      Just to clarify (with reference to ‘c*nts’, I would never judge a whole industry based on any number of stories. I am sure there are even good bankers. As such I would never judge every taxi driver on this experience or any one else’s. I am sure most people will not go to this trouble on every taxi journey they take.

      As for the money and ‘precious holiday time’. Firstly the money, as I stated was small but it was the principal. And secondly, we were at the end of our trip and had arrived in Bangkok from Pai. The only reason we were in Bangkok is because we had to, in order to get flights home, so spending our time getting one over on a taxi driver was a good way to spend half an hour when we really had nothing much else to do but wait for flights.

      Thanks for the comment anyway, its good to know about the one way systems etc. Oh and also Google maps was very accurate whenever we used it, and we used it a few times, so I would disagree with that

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    • Actually, as you well know being that you live in Asia as I do, sometimes you just have to dig your heels in and say NO, I AM NOT GOING TO LET YOU GET AWAYS WITH THIS. Pragmatic? Nooooooooo. Soul healing….yes.

      Captain Expat: Phnom Penh

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