Let me start saying that I have used regular taxis in Bangkok hundreds of times over the past decade or so and can only remember two other unpleasant experiences with the drivers. Most of the drivers are honest and hard working.
Then, when you have very unpleasant experience, it is very difficult to forget. I once wrote about cab with super “hot” meter (read more here) that had it going triple/quadruple speed compared to the actual distance.
So, when I was staying at the Grand Hyatt Bangkok the other night, I requested the bell desk to pull up a cab and tell the driver to take me to the BNH on Soi Convent.
Drive there was uneventful, but I was wondering where the drivers credentials were that should be displayed on the dashboard. The fare was 73 baht and gave the driver 100 THB note. Asked him to give me 20 THB back. Fares such as this are usually rounded up.
The driver claimed that he didn’t have 20 THB note. I then gave him 70 THB and asked him to give me the 100 note back. Driver refused and claimed that I had given him only 50 THB one.
This is the oldest trick of the trade when it comes to cab drivers. They claim that you gave them different note. I have been to Thailand gazillion of times and know the notes.
So, now the driver had 170 THB and was only willing to give me back 50. I told him to get to the police station so that I could report him for illegally driving a cab. Remember. He didn’t have his identification out as he should have.
He turned off the AC, turned on the Thai music on the radio and started to drive “somewhere”. Then he dropped me at a gas station when the meter was 140+ and gave 30 THB back. Seems that he was well aware what I had given him. What a surprise!
I have friends who swear that they wouldn’t go back to Bangkok unless they can use Uber because they have zero tolerance for the taxi issues. The most common ones tend to be that the drivers are refusing to use the meter or refuse to take you to your destination. Both of these are “illegal” and can get the driver into trouble if reported.
If the first driver refuses to use the meter, just ask another one. Don’t try to get one of the loitering taxis outside of the nightspots. Those are always bad. I have never not been able to find a proper taxi after asking few times.
Sebastian had similar issue with a cab taken from Grand Hyatt recently. The driver had been driving in circles and the fare had been more than twice what it should have been. Not sure if one of the guy waiving the taxis in at the Grand Hyatt has made a “deal” and collects some tea money?
The taxi that took me from the Grand Hyatt to the airport last night was great, however. The fare was 264 THB (I paid for the tolls). I gave the driver 300 and some change and he started to give me money back. I told that no need.
I emailed the photos above to the front office manager who reported the driver on my behalf. Let’s hope that someone follows up…