Meters still not used and over charges
As an Expat living in Thailand it’s fairly common to see a little inconsistency in prices from taxi drivers, but this tale about the Bangkok taxi driver is something altogether amazing. Over the last two months I have taken 5 journeys from the national airport to Wireless road which typically takes one hour in the morning rush hour, here is my accounts from the different taxi rides I have experienced – and boy, do they differ!
5 different drivers, 5 different outcomes
Two of the five taxi drivers used the meter, when it’s protocol to use this at all times, knowing I would be making this route numerous times for journalistic reasons I let this go as I wanted to see how each ride was different.
What was really alarming with the two-metered routes was the unexplainable discrepancy in fare. The fare that cost 270 baht was actually the taxi that took the longest to get to my destination due to poor traffic (fare goes up when stationery 1.5 baht per minute), whilst the other fare that only took only 55 minutes clocked in at 415 baht, some 53% more in price. When I challenged the driver he said it was because of the traffic. I took my phone out and took a photo of the meter and showed him the complaint slip you get when you get in a taxi at the airport and said no worries I will enquire later about the high fee. He then accepted 300 baht fare from me.
When I made the journey back from Wireless Road to the airport, I would ask the driver before I got into the car how much does he think the fare will be. One said, and I think we have all heard this before, “Up to you” – which is also interesting as I thought it was up to the meter. None of the taxi drivers on my route back used the meter and I would get the route for 300 baht, but all would ask for between 400 and 500 baht; whilst many would drive away as they did not want to go to the airport.
I also gave all of them 100 baht to deal with the two tolls on the route coming from airport into the city, one for 25 baht and the other for 50 baht. One of the five told me it was 100 baht, one tried keeping the 25 baht whilst three gave me the correct change back. Still, it’s the inconsistency and ability to rip off customers that will continue to give the Bangkok taxi driver on the whole a very bad name.
So, a short review on my experiences with the Bangkok taxi driver, what’s clear is the meter is still not being used and prices being commanded are above the fee we should be paying. If I hadn’t done the route on the occasions before then I would have been charged more than I should have every time. Asking a taxi driver in Bangkok to go by the meter, it would appear from this test, is not the norm as yet. If you asked, many would no doubt just drive off.