Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Vietnam: Police Arrest Taxi Driver for Inflating Fare by Ten Times in Hanoi

Hanoi police announced on Monday (April 29) that they have arrested a licensed taxi driver in the capital who allegedly defrauded a honeymooning couple from Australia by purposely inflating a short taxi fare by ten times. 

On Sunday (April 28), the fast-thinking couple took cell-phone photos of the driver, the inflated meter rate (VND980,000 dong) and the driver's license plate and paid the exorbitant fare, only to report the matter to local police. 

COMMENT: It should be noted that this is the third reported case of foreign tourists being scammed in Hanoi in less than a week.  

Last Thursday (April 25), staff members of a hotel threatened the lives of three French tourists who announced they were leaving after having been taken there by a taxi driver against their will. After the tourists reported the incident to police, the implicated hotel employees confessed, agreeing to pay VND10 million in compensation. 

Hanoi police also fined a "cyclo" driver for charging another Australian tourist, Ilona Schultz, and her two children VND1.3 million, more than ten times the normal price, for a five-kilometer ride on April 23. The woman had agreed to a fare of VND70,000. 

On Thursday, Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism visited Schultz to apologize and to return the VND1.3 million to her. 

Tuan pledged to tackle the problems foreign tourists have been encountering of late, which have tarnished Vietnam's reputation as a tourist destination. That being said, out of 174 countries listed on Transparency International's Corruption Index for 2012, Vietnam is 123 from the bottom, suggesting that transparency in Vietnam is hardly a national priority. 

Rather than being victimized by unscrupulous and unsavory taxi drivers, I strongly suggest that tourists bound for Vietnam do some research online and consider soliciting quotes from at least three luxury hotels for a reputable car and driver to be on-call during your visit. 

Although this is by no means a bargain-basement approach, it is far better than dealing repeatedly with dishonest taxi and "cyclo" drivers, is much safer and enables you to efficiently see as much of Vietnam as humanly possible.  You may also discover that such drivers are much more pleasant. 

Normally, drivers who are on-call are normally tipped 15-20% of the time they are used. Using such drivers is also an excellent way of keeping your blood pressure in check:).