One of the taxi scams that you need to look out for is the fixed meter scam. Basically the meter has been tampered with to go up faster than it should so that you end up with a more expensive ride. I’ve been looking out for one of these but haven’t found one yet. I’m in the habit now of taking a picture with my smartphone of the meter at the end of the journey so that I can compare the mileage and price on the meter from previous journeys. But, so far it has been pretty consistent. However, this writer to the Bangkok Post this morning wasn’t so lucky. He used the official taxi rank at Suvarnabhumi airport and managed to get himself a taxi that had a fixed meter.
Having arrived from Germany around 6pm we proceeded directly to the taxi rank and were surprised to find no queue and plenty of drivers waiting. We gave our destination as Sathorn/Silom and were given the white receipt. Having taken many taxis from the airport, I’m always wary as they sometimes have the meter on already, showing 35 baht — but it’s in wait mode. This evening that did not happen and the driver turned the engine on and off as we went. About five minutes into the journey he asked for the white airport receipt from my partner and he handed it over. This aroused both our suspicions and I then began to look at the meter. I immediately noticed the meter was higher than normal and within 15 minutes before even getting to the first toll gate the meter rate was over 400 baht. I then asked for the receipt back calmly, and he handed it over.
I took more than 20 pictures of the meter without him noticing and by the time we reached my condo on Sathorn the meter showed 255 kilometres and a fare of 2,077 baht with zero waiting time. The fare to Sathorn is normally 270 to 300 baht plus the 50 baht surcharge. We arrived at my condo knowing full well there were several security guards on duty who know me quite well. The taxi stopped and we removed our luggage from the trunk and front seat and put it in the reception area and handed the taxi driver 300 baht and thanked him and walked away. He was taken aback and started to complain, but my partner said in Thai to him, ‘‘If you have a problem, call the police’’. He jumped into his taxi and took off. If I was a tourist I may well have paid this fare and not known better.
In the past I’ve taken a taxi in the departure areas and never had a problem, though this is considered illegal. The only problems I’ve had in all the years at the new airport have been at the ‘‘legal’’ taxi rank. We have reported this, but of course we don’t expect anything to come of it.
What about you? Have you come across this kind of scam before in Bangkok or something similar?