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Be Very Aware Of The Dodgy Taxis At The Airport

Posted by theloner on 18/10/2013 at 20:47

Have been numerous reports lately of the taxis having rigged spinning meters. For example costing about 1000 baht to Khao San Road. I had an experience myself a few years back going from the airport to the northern bus station. What should have been about 300 baht tops turned out to be 700 baht. Noticed right off how fast the meter was going while the guy continued chatting in rapid Thai trying to get me distracted. Arrived at the bus station handed him 300 baht and walked off. I never put my bags in the trunk. Have them by my side at all times just in case of situations like this. But decided from then on to avoid the taxis altogether and just wait till morning and get the rapid train into downtown and bus it from there. Also the taxis tend to enjoy trying to drive in circles to get the fare up. Boycott the taxi mafia !

#1 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by DLuek on 18/10/2013 at 23:00 TF writer

Wow, 1,000 baht to KSR is a seriously fast meter -- that's almost triple time. But I think the bigger problem is when they just don't use the meter at all. I know of someone who was charged 2,000 baht for a ride from Suvarnabhumi to Sathorn when she didn't notice the driver hadn't switched on the meter.

In touristy areas, the norm now seems to be that many taxis, don't even consider using the meter for foreigners, especially tourists and especially at night. The other night on Yaowarat I inquired with four taxis in a row, all of whom wanted a minimum of 150 baht for a ride to Phraeng Puthon Square in Rattanakosin (not more than a 60 baht metered ride with traffic). One guy asked for 300, and the alcohol on his breath was thick. Finally found a tuk tuk who would do it for 80 baht. After that we needed a taxi to Victory Monument, took three tries to find a driver who would do it metered and he ended up being crazy. Another taxi slightly cut him off and he proceeded to gun it, whipping between other cars and then honking his horn and yelling when he caught up to the offending cab.

Mind you I'm asking politely in Thai, and in most cases the drivers answer back with a quote in Thai. I have Thai friends who have been unable to get a taxi in the Asok / Nana area late night because they're all waiting for tourists who will agree on a non-metered price. A visiting friend who speaks no Thai told me he asked more than a dozen taxis near KSR for a ride to my apartment in Khlong San (70 baht metered ride) before he found one willing to use the meter. They all wanted around 200 baht. Considering how many taxis there are, it's pretty frustrating.

I will say however that outside of tourist areas like Khao San, Siam Square, Chinatown and lower Sukhumvit, the taxis virtually always switch on the meter right away. Not sure if that would be the case if I wasn't asking in Thai though.

#2 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,171
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Posted by theloner on 18/10/2013 at 23:56

Speaking Thai or even a little gives you a huge advantage. What is the Thai saying ? (Loo Mak Mai Dee) Know much no good. Dodgy taxis, guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, Thai women etc, will just avoid you most of the time if you are considered too smart. Sadly the majority of tourists and even many expats who make zero effort to learn Thai or at least the numbers get scammed again and again and again. Giving the impression that most foreigners are total suckers, which sadly is likely the case. Not into giving dodgy Thais a single baht. If you can read people well enough you can often tell they are up to no good the moment they open their mouth.

#3 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by somtam2000 on 19/10/2013 at 02:08 admin

At the airport use the official taxi desk and pay the 50 baht surcharge. Have never had a problem.

Taxi won't put on the meter? Get out and flag down another.

I could count on one hand the problems I've had with taxis in Thailand.

Dangerous/stoned/drunk etc a far bigger issue IMO.

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,564
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Posted by theloner on 19/10/2013 at 02:38

Funny the guy that paid 1000 baht that used the official taxi desk had the super sonic meter. the one time i had the problem with the fast meter was, guess what ? the official taxi desk. after that i decided never again.

#5 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by somtam2000 on 19/10/2013 at 03:11 admin

So you were ripped off by an airport cab a few years ago. Given you've never caught one since, struggling to see how that is a particularly useful snippet of info for readers who may be contemplating catching a cab from one of Bangkok's airports today or tomorrow - especially as only one of them has a high speed rail connection.

For most visitors the main options are:
A) if landing at Superpoo use the high speed rail link which deposits you nowhere near KSR (which, for better or worse is where many head) so will then need to deal with taxis or tuk tuks (DANGER WILL ROBINSON!). If arriving at Don Muang, train is an option, especially if heading straight north, less so if heading into town.

B) get a taxi from the arrivals deck where you may be able to bargain a semi decent fare assuming you know what a semi decent fare is.

C) get an airport bus (depending on destination, the best and most affordable option for solo travellers)

D) getting an official taxi and paying the 50 baht surcharge. The vast majority of people have no problems with this - most airport taxi ripoff i hear are from people who tried (b) above.

E) Limos etc.

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Posted by DLuek on 19/10/2013 at 09:18 TF writer

I don't know, I do think the meter thing has gotten a lot worse. A lot of taxis that pick up at the official airport taxi stand are not using meters if customers don't mention it. Six out of seven taxis I tried to catch the other night were trying to negotiate a double fare without meter, and I'm speaking Thai. I can't ever remember that happening during my first couple times to Thailand 5 - 7 years ago. That was definitely unusual -- I rarely have problems -- but myself and my tour guide partner have talked to many, many travelers over the last year who've said that, more or less, Bangkok taxis refuse to use the meter for them. They often seem to just accept it and pay the double prices. Otherwise they end up like my buddy trying to catch a taxi from Tani Rd to my apartment and having to ask more than 12 before finding one that will use the meter, and it's not like that was during rush hour either. Not an exaggeration either -- pretty out of control.

#7 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,171
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Posted by theloner on 19/10/2013 at 10:04

As i may have mentioned this 1000 baht speeding meter just happened a few days ago. I have read also numerous reports on other web sites within the last few weeks and like yourself they spoke Thai. In most cases of course they do not. Why it is increasing it is difficult to say. Again only theory but from what i have witnessed in the past at the airport as with the long tail boats at Ranong, and other dodgy situations in the tourist areas. This likely stems from tourists not knowing any better, not doing their research before hand, not listening to good advice from people who have been here for years that have common sense, the so called two week millionaires tossing money around and most of all allowing themselves to be taken advantage of. I never put my bags in the trunk just in case a situation like this happens. If i am over charged as with bars, massage shops, taxis or whatever. I do not argue, i hand them amount i believe to be fair or what the shop or whatever mentioned before hand and walk away. As with i did with the last taxi a few years back. The only way to deal with these crooks is out smart them. But as long as tourists continue to arrive with their heads up ..... situations like this will only continue to get worse and spread. Again i very rarely if ever have ANY problems in Nakhon Nowhere.

#8 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by exacto on 19/10/2013 at 10:40

the problem with expecting to find trouble is that you will find it, whether it is really there or not. even if as DLuek suggests this problem has become worse lately, it just isn't common enough or large enough to take such extreme measures to make sure "they" don't get the best of you. expecting to be ripped off at every meal, hotel, and taxi ride? talk about a buzz kill for your holiday!

my experience is exactly like somtam2000's. i can count on one hand the number of problems i've had with taxis in Thailand too, and that is after years and years of rides. the overwhelming majority of taxi drivers i've used are good and friendly people who bust their humps every day in Bangkok traffic. if a cab driver won't turn on the meter, get out and hail another one. but don't expect trouble and absolutely don't go looking for it. cheers.

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Posted by DLuek on 19/10/2013 at 23:01 TF writer

Didn't mean to paint an unscrupulous picture of all Bangkok taxi drivers -- I fully agree with exacto that "the overwhelming majority of them are good and friendly people who bust their humps every day in Bangkok traffic." Last year my brother left his backpack in a taxi near KSR and completely forgot about it for 20 minutes. When we went back to the place where we'd been dropped off, the driver was standing there, backpack in hand, perusing the crowd looking for us. With that said, it seems that the 2% who are not so honest are the ones who focus on tourist areas, so the chances of tourists running into them are quite high. Not once have I had a problem in, say, Din Daeng or Thonburi, but in Chinatown or Banglamphu, the no meter thing is quite prevalent.

But I agree that if you look for trouble, you'll find it, and I wouldn't suggest the loner's tactic of handing over whatever you feel is the correct price and walking away. Even (especially) if the driver/seller is trying to rip you off, that's a good way to incite a violent reaction. In my mind, the risk isn't worth a couple hundred baht. But honestly, the last experience I had that could have warranted a reaction like that was five years ago after a Saigon airport taxi. Never once in Thailand. I just avoid those situations before they materialize. Like the loner said, it's easy to read people who are up to no good, so why would you put yourself in a situation that requires a reaction like that in the first place?

#10 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,171
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Posted by somanights on 23/10/2013 at 11:02

Have just left Bangkok, and our experiences with taxis were fine, helped by the fact we followed advice from here and elsewhere: ignore the hawkers sitting outside busy spots and hotels; flag one down, and if they don't agree to the meter, say thanks and bye-bye. As there are two of us, even if they say yes one gets in while the other loads the bags, and one stays in whilst the other retrieves them just in case when finished.

Another thing I like to do - if they're clearly giving you an honest ride, give them a tip - good way to encourage good experiences.

#11 somanights has been a member since 10/10/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 21
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 24/10/2013 at 10:03

It has gotten worse. I tried to get a cab to the airport in Sukhumvit and one after another refused the meter. They wanted 500 baht. I kept saying no until I got sick of it and agreed on 400 baht. It's probably cause the cost of living in Bangkok has increased and they are trying to milk it when they can. From the airport it's not a problem so much but I did get this tool stop off for fuel, spend 10 mins stuffing around while the meter is running. That meant his tip was gone. What a wanker he was. But I've had some really good drivers who followed instructions,went the way I wanted and didn't try anything on and those guys got a 50 baht tip.

I don't believe the spinning meter story. They are regulated and spin at the same speed.

If anyone is paying 1,000-2,000 baht for a 300-400 baht ride then they are stupid. Why didn't the women just give him 500 baht and walk away? Talk about gullible.

#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by theloner on 25/10/2013 at 01:29

Don,t believe in the spinning meter story? Than why was the meter at 300 baht not barely half way to Mo Chit? Guess i was seeing things when the meter hit 700 baht on arrival instead of 250 or 300 baht. The reason the fares are going up is because of super gullible foreigners. Why are the boats at Ranong asking 300 to 1,000 baht instead of 100 round trip ? You think a Thai or Burmese would pay that much? Answer: Super gullible aka stupid tourists. As i mentioned i handed the guy 300 baht and walked away. As long as people allow these crooks to get away with this it will continue. Politely hand them the money and walk away as i did. Next time i see a spinning meter i will make a video that should scare the crap out of Khun Dodgy. I understand many are honest and hard working but it is getting out of hand. Also the older drivers 50 and up tend to be lot more polite and honest.

#13 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 25/10/2013 at 12:58

Spinning meter. Never seen one. Myth. Never been to Ranong. Heard it's a bit of a dump.

#14 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by theloner on 25/10/2013 at 22:08

You are being very negative about Ranong. Be very careful most tourists like it there. Someone might disagree with you and that is frowned on, speaking negative or having a different opinion than yours. Going by your rules since it is a dump where do you suggest they go ? May i suggest Pattaya, its a wonderful place with many interesting people.

#15 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 25/10/2013 at 23:16

Got your wheels spinning.

#16 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by billytheliar on 26/10/2013 at 07:35

Last week I tried maybe 20 or 25 taxis in a row (from Asok to Rambuttri ) until I finally gave up and accepted 150b / no meter ( most were asking for 300b).

#17 billytheliar has been a member since 3/4/2012. Posts: 48
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Posted by theloner on 26/10/2013 at 07:46

As i said the taxis are only getting worse. Maybe time to start a boycott. I just avoid them completely. Difficult how this problem started and if they are only targeting foreigners which is my hunch. Perhaps some two week millionaire started flashing big money and it snowballed from there. Whatever the case there has to be a solution to repair this problem.

#18 theloner has been a member since 7/10/2013. Posts: 116

Posted by DLuek on 26/10/2013 at 09:19 TF writer

I think the reasons are many.

1. Cost of living in Bangkok has gone up considerably in recent years but the metered fares haven't gone up at all.
2. Numbers of tourists visiting Bangkok have gone up considerably, and it's become common knowledge among the cabbies that many of them seem fine to not go by the meter, or even know that there's supposed to be a meter at all.
3. Bangkok taxi drivers are a strong urban constituency for the current government, so the majority lawmakers aren't in any hurry to crack down on them.
4. Hardly any tourists who get scammed by taxis report it to the police or government.
5. Taxi drivers have learned that tuk tuks and even motorbike taxis are regularly getting 100 baht (from foreign tourists) for what would be a 70 baht fare in a regular taxi - it's understandable how they feel short-changed here.
6. Traffic still sucks, of course, so if a driver is going to do a decent trip (like billytheliar's Asok to Rambutri), they're going to either make it worth their while or just stick to their normal cruising area. This also comes into play when taxis refuse a fare from a local if it means they'll get stuck in traffic (not that you won't get stuck in traffic anywhere in Bangkok at some hours).

Personally I feel it's time to raise the fares a bit. Would that curb this sort of thing? Maybe slightly, if at all.

I think you're right that they mainly target foreigners (or at least foreign tourists or anyone who can't speak any Thai). However, I've heard from some Thai friends that taxis at certain places (touristy areas) and at certain hours just refuse them altogether because they're waiting for a tourist who will pay top dollar. So there's definitely some frustration among Thais towards this practice too. In general, I know Thai people who also get really frustrated that so many taxis so often refuse to go where they want to go, and also the aggressive way that some of them drive.

I don't necessarily avoid taxis, but I do prefer skytrain & subway, canal & river boats, walking and motorbike taxis when possible, which is pretty much 95% of the time. There's a science to getting around Bangkok; taxis are just one of many variables.

#19 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,171
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 27/10/2013 at 19:49

Yeah taxis are so cheap I can understand this. From MBK to Pratunam it's about 70 baht in a taxi but tuk tuks charge 150 baht. The taxi drivers must hate it which is why they ask for more. I'm happy to give them 100 baht to enjoy the aircon. Stuff paying 150 baht to inhale all the Bangkok smoke.

#20 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

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