I have been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t been scammed; you hear in Beijing about people being scammed when they meet a student looking to ‘practice their English with you’ and you both go to a teahouse to drink tea. Then suddenly the bill comes and the tea is at an extortionate price. Obviously the ‘student’ and the teahouse are in this together, and they force the foreigner to pay.
This is quite a well known scam that most people going to Beijing should have heard about. But in Chengdu, I’ve never encountered a scam….
That was until 2 weeks ago…
When my boyfriends parents were here, we decided to go for some Beijing Duck. It’s a little far from our place, so we decided to hail a taxi to get there; costing 20元. About 4/5euro.
After our meal, we caught another taxi and away home we went. Every taxi has a meter, and usually it begins at 8元 and continues from that price.. I think it is based on every kilometre you drive… and it increases by 1yuan.
So naturally we presumed it would be around the 20元 mark. As we were driving, I happened to look at the metre…… 30元!!??
We were still not home… but it was already at this high price! I kept looking at it and the metre suddenly jumped another 2 yuan in a matter of 10 seconds.
‘That’s definitely not right’ I thought. It’s broken.
Then, to make things worse, I didn’t spot any information about the taxi man in the car. No card or details about him… You always see details of the driver on the dashboard. Definitely a dodgy taxi.
It was then when my boyfriend noticed the metre. He asked him why is it so expensive? And the taxi man didn’t reply.
Then, out of nowhere, he starts blabbering in Chinese to him. Huh…. throughout the whole ride home he never said a word…. and it was only until my boyfriend mentioned the price that he started talking.
He asked where we were from and how long have we lived in China. When we said 3 years… I’m pretty sure he copped on and thought ‘Oh no, these guys actually live here…. so they know rightly well that this metre is rigged…. well I can’t do anything about it now…’
So when we arrived home… the metre ended up at 45 元!!! What a ripoff!
He stopped the taxi and we immediately said that’s far too expensive… his reply was ‘You are foreigners!!’
And??? Just because we are foreigners doesn’t mean you have the right to rip us off. Obviously he doesn’t care about showing Chinese hospitality to ‘us foreigners’.
So we went back and forth with him about not paying and we settled it at 25元。 A much more satisfactory price.
I keep on wondering how he did it though; did he click a button when he saw us and thats when the metre changed? Or is the metre like that for everybody who uses it?
I didn’t know that type of thing existed. It looked like a normal taxi to us.
And apparently these fake taxis are becoming more and more common, as one student in our class said he got into 3 of these fake ones in the last year.
Thankfully we rarely take taxis, only taking them for the convenience of my boyfriends Mum and Dad being here.
But, it goes to show that these are about. In future, we will look at the dashboard and make sure there is correct information about the driver before we step into the car.
We certainly learned to be more cautious!