One of the most possible unpleasant experiences you will have in Vietnam is encountering cheating taxis, and if you are planning to visit the country, this is a cautionary tale. Overcharging through defective or manipulated meters is the most common taxi rip-off. Mostly foreigners are often victimized, but there are also cases of locals being ripped-off. Of course, cheating taxis are also present in other countries, but Vietnamese cities are known to be orderly and peaceful with relatively low crime rate, and the presence of taxi cheats reflects government complacency.
I posted a discussion in the professional network site LinkedIn that asked, Is there something we can do about cheating taxis? just to have a feel of how other people view the issue. A good number of reactions, recommendations and tips on how to prevent cheating were posted. So if you encounter a cheating taxi, what are you supposed to do? There is only one available option – get the number of the taxi and report it to the company. Taxis are required to print the company phone number on both sides of the vehicle, so you can get it before or even after the ride. Calling the company is one thing; getting a good response is another thing. There are numbers that does not work, which means the company may be fake. And if it is not fake, it is a blessing indeed if the operator can speak English.
The best option is to take preventive measures, and there are four practical ways:
- Take only the most reliable companies, which include Mai Linh (nationwide), Taxi Group (mostly in Hanoi and northern part of the country) and Vinasun (mostly in Ho Chi Minh and the southern part of the country). These are known to have good meters. You can also call them whenever you need a taxi ride.
- Involve the hotel staff in choosing and dealing with taxi drivers. When going out of the hotel, the staff can call a taxi for you and talk to the driver to make sure that he knows the place where you are going.
- If you happen to be in another place and there is no other option but to ride an unreliable taxi, negotiate the fare before even riding. it would be helpful if you have with you an electronic calculator to use when negotiating. The driver may not be able to speak English and the only means of communication is through the calculator. Remember, the driver may exaggerate the distance and will charge more.
- If you are staying longer, hiring a car will be the best option, or if you have an international driver’s license, you can rent and drive on your own. One car rental company – CityCar.com.vn – provides rental vehicles with or without drivers.
A post from a LinkedIn member Jeremy Hubert suggested a more “high tech” response to the issue. He posted:
There’s actually a very useful free app you can download, it’s called Tappxi. It’s available on Android, not sure about IOS. It traces the route, estimates the fair and references most Vietnamese taxi companies. At least, cell phone in hand, you can tap the guy on the shoulder if her starts wandering off route to give you a little forced city tour. I use it every time I take a taxi and I’m not familiar with the surroundings. Of course it would require you to have a phone with integrated GPS and a 3G connection.
And there are also outrageous suggestions. One post stated that instead of complaining, find a way of not paying to cheat back! Another post simply said – Walk more?