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Advice when you have to take a foreign taxi

Why you might want to walk rather than take a taxi

SM: I got ripped off by a cab driver in India who drove in circles (he didn’t think I noticed) near the Taj Mahal and then charged me almost ten times what it should have cost. And when I complained to the police, I was told there was nothing I could do about it. What can travelers do?

Answer: No matter where you travel, there are times when you may have to take a taxi. Whatever its virtues, India is not known for its honest taxi cab drivers. And please, try not to hail a cab in Kuala Lumpur.

They’re the worst taxi drivers in the world, according to LondonCabs.co.uk.

One major reason: they often refuse to use meters, often quoting higher than normal fares, according to Tripadvisor.

Prospects of haggling with the driver? Impossible, says one victim who is familiar with the world’s taxi cabs, calling KL’s the “biggest pack of thieving lying dirt bags you will ever come across.”

I have sympathy with taxi drivers because it is a hard way to make a living. But this common practice of overcharging, of course, a horrible way to treat a guest and certainly will leave a bad taste in any tourist’s mouth.

So what can be done about it?

First, never, never take a cab unless you discuss and agree upon the fare before you get into the vehicle. The driver can always attempt to charge you more when you arrive, but that’s less likely. And you can cite your prior agreement even if he threatens to complain to the police.

On the other hand, I have gotten into cabs and the friendly driver has cheerfully recommended places to visit (and to avoid). And the trip was well worth what I paid this “free guide.”

Overall, however, unless you are reasonably sure the taxi driver is honest and forthcoming about what your trip will cost, try the bus or the subway or even walk, if at all possible. The latter is good for you (assuming the area is a safe one). You will see a slice of the country barely noted in a quickly passing vehicle. And your only real worry will be whether the directions you probably got at your hotel were the right ones. Walking equals healthy exercise, a chance to see a country close-up, and will make you worry-free about taxi rip-offs.

Posted by David Wilkening 05:26

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