Remember the taxi scam targeting pubgoers in Lan Kwai Fong about six months ago? Some devious cabbies exploited a design loophole in the window glass of the vehicle which if left ajar would break once the passenger closed the door, thereby providing them with the opportunity to demand excessive compensation.
That scam died a natural death after police uncovered it and was widely publicized. But that doesn’t mean shenanigans targeting unsuspecting taxi passengers have gone away.
Try answering this simple question: How much would a 10-minute taxi ride from Lan Kwai Fong cost? You’d say a few more dollars on top of the flagdown rate, right? Not quite so. On weekends, the asking price is HK$150 if you happen to ride in one driven by a smooth-talking, ruthlessly overcharging cabbie.
The number of complaints on taxi fare overcharging has surged from 412 cases in 2010 to 738 during the first 11 months of 2014, representing an increase of 80 percent over the past five years, police data shows.
However, all the police arrests, which could lead to a maximum penalty of HK$10,000 and imprisonment term of six months, have not deterred unscrupulous drivers from charging passengers way beyond the normal fare.
Referred to as “black taxis” by the locals, drivers of these vehicles try every trick in the book to get their passengers, especially tourists and tipsy pubgoers, to pay more than what they ought to, iCable News reported Tuesday.
In Tsim Sha Tsui, where many hotels are located, some black taxis slap an additional HK$50 on their passengers in the form of excessive toll and baggage charges for a trip that would normally cost HK$230.
Apart from levying unreasonable surcharges, some black taxis would simply lower their “For Hire” sign, select a customer with their preferred destination, and haggle for the fare, which is illegal under the existing law that prohibits taxi drivers from refusing to take passengers.
Foreigners fall prey to new taxi scam
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