Taxi Scam at Suvarnabhumi Airport

July 29, 2013
By

meter

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?

14 Responses to Taxi Scam at Suvarnabhumi Airport

  1. homelessBKK
    July 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    i remember rate 20 km 1km/5.5 bath im back from talingchun floating market 20 km i paid 140 bath

  2. Andrew
    July 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    About a month ago I took a taxi from work back home- a trip I make 4-5 times a week. I noticed half way that the meter seemed to be about three times higher than usual. When I told the driver his meter ‘seemed to be broken’ he quickly apologised and asked ‘how much I wanted to pay?’ (Ummmm the correct fare, and today, not a satang more). Was only because I make the identical trip so often that I knew something was up- can see how many would not realise and get scammed.

  3. Peter Marshall
    July 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    The writer of this Bangkok Post letter was lucky. If the final destination hadn’t been his/her condominium with security guards known to the writer in attendance – and if the writer hadn’t been with a Thai partner then the outcome would most certainly have been different in my experience. I have experienced this same problem twice before when taking ‘metered taxis’ from the airport – Suvarnabhumi – when there ensued a lot of bad feeling – frustration – anger and the possibility of a life threatening situation developing in a moment’s notice.

  4. Leeshaad
    July 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Not had that one but had a situation where after departing the airport I noticed that I couldnt see the meter. Upon closer inspection I noticed he had covered it with a towel. Realising full well his intentions I let a few more Kms pass before asking him where the meter was. he said no meter. So I whipped off the towel revealing the meter with red lights indicating it was indeed working. I told him to put it on and he said 700 baht ok?. I said not ok put on the meter or I will pay you 35 baht and 50 for the airport surcharge. He then begrudgingly put it on and he received a total of 160 baht after reaching Silom. Cheapest taxi ride I ever took from the airport.

  5. Jørgen
    July 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I stopped taking taxis from the airport long ago. Too many negative experiences. Taking the train to a nearby station and taxi from there (if I’m not going downtown and take the train all the way) works fine. Or the bus to Pattaya if I’m going there.

  6. Peter Marshall
    July 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I have to wonder if the American who was hacked to death a few weeks ago had this meter issue with his driver? I am not getting into the pros and cons of what happened but did the cops check the taxi’s meter?

    It is hard to imagine that the victim who lived and worked here would have become so angry as to get out of the taxi if nothing had provoked him.

  7. Paddy MacLachlan
    July 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    “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.”

    Given that comment in your original post, I think it would be reasonable to point out that this practice is evidently virtually unheard of, except in an extremely small number of incidences. Otherwise it’s unfair to the vast number of taxi drivers who work hard and honestly for a living and it only serves to make foreign visitors guarded and untrustworthy, which kind of goes against the whole point of coming to Thailand.

    Obviously, don’t be a fool, keep your wits about you. But please don’t start seeing trouble where there isn’t any.

  8. margarie mullings
    July 30, 2013 at 1:48 am

    Not a taxi problem but a motorbike taxi problem. I was fed up with the same motorbike taxis ripping me off every single morning. Although I go to same place every single morning, that I brought my own bike….beep beep…! I would have been quite happy to keep paying them, but it was stressing me out before I even got to more stressy Thai related issues at work!

  9. p'a
    July 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Opposite for me. I have only had one honest taxi at departures, and was likely because he was dropping a fair, in front of where I was standing.

    I find it a bad idea to get in if the person without luggage get out of the taxi. Some tricky scammers actually use buddies acting like a customer to trick you.

    As for the taxi stand I have never in 12 years had an issue beyond the taxi being a broken down wreck with no suspension to speak of.

    I also like to photo the meter, door tag, and licensed owner card, and toll recceipt, but would not want to get caught doing so.

  10. August 5, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I had a completely different experience last month, when meter showed I had to pay around 50 Baht, and I only had a 1000 Baht banknote and around 20 Baht in change. The driver laughed and said OK just give me 20 Baht.
    I hope he didn’t rip off another tourist to compensate for my ride 🙂 seemed to be a good honest person though

  11. ChristianPFC
    August 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    The vast majority of taxi drivers are honest people. The few who try to scam me are easy to avoid (around Silom/Surawong, asking for a fixed rate).

  12. philip
    February 1, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Just arrived from BKK 30 mins ago. I had the same problem. Just going to crystal suites at lakrabat road near airport. The kiosk said 150 baht. I got in, then he asked for my paper which i thought was weird and he said 400 baht? I said “but he said 150” he said “ok ok 150” then he kept changing it again and again and then i asked him to use meter. I asked for the receipt back and he gave it after a few asks and then later asked for it back.
    Got to hotel, i say “150?” he says ok so i give him 200 to include tip. He gives me 50 back asks for 5 baht so 105 baht. Then he wants the paper back, but i point on the back about the fact that it’s mine.
    I got very confused as he is now not even wanting a tip. He was worried about me complaining about him.

  13. mai pen rai
    June 15, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    When a taxi doesnt want to go somewhere or ask a fixed amount, just smile and say “mai pen rai” – there’s so many taxis 🙂

    When the driver is asking a fixed amount I add a gesture of the hand, palm forward and turn my head to look for another taxi, to mark my refusal clearly…

    One time going late from airport to dunno where in Rangsit (50km) (had to call my friend so that he tell the driver where to go), he asked the airport paper to read destination written on it, and put it on the front seat beside him.. but i took it back (probably the idea of droppin me somewhere on the road went through his head)

    Other time, going to airport I did not notice he did not start the meter. On arrival, he asked 500 bht when the normal course from where I stay is between 150 and 200 depending on the traffic.

    In a laugh I told him he did not tell me the price before, and that it’s written “taxi meter” on the car so he had to start the meter. I gave him 250 with a “khun kaap kop khun kaap” and end conversation..

    Recently I did notice the driver (looking addict to something) pressing several times a push button at the end of a cable hanging under the steering wheel… and the distance incremented a few hundred meters… but he stopped and i did not felt overcharged on arrival (maybe he saw I noticed)..

    Other time I had to wait 2h for free seat in bus so decided to take taxi from airport… but after a few Km he answered a phone call and told me he had a family affair and asked me if it was ok to bring me back at airport.. (of course it was OK, the car was such a wreck) .. where instead of changing taxi (he didnt ask any money) I finally managed to have a free seat in the bus that was leaving right now..

    I take very often the taxi in BKK and had only one real problem that could have turned in a bad situation (the guy asking 500 bht on arrival)..

    If you fear something you can try grab taxi or easy taxi… I tried once for a short ride but did cancel my booking because I took another taxi… The two other times for a longer ride to downtown, had no success for booking any taxi and had to go with the “manual” method…

  14. liafail
    November 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Last saturday I arrived at Suvarnabhumi and after a long queu at the immigration i managed to ride the taxi at about 12:20nn. Happy to see the new system that you just click then a small paper comes out and you get your designated taxi parked at the corresponding place that matches the number on your paper with the name of the driver and registration number.

    After a few minutes the driver asked for the paper. But since i know that paper should be in my possession i took it back from him after letting him read it for some minutes.

    Driver was old with pure white hair. I said i dont want express way since it was a lazy saturday noon and didnt seem traffic and i was not in a hurry. Wow he just exploded with a “traffic! Very traffic!.” And i said to him that even if traffic i still pay the meter. He was unhappy and grumbled. So i pretended to take a video and photo and noticed how uncomfortable he was. Kept looking back at me and from time to time at the mirror.

    I knew he was doing something dishonest with the meter as i saw it move fast at certain period. Every regular taxi rider will feel whenever the meter is faster than the usual. Anyway i arrived at my destination in silom thru a traffic victory monument area instead of the sukhumvit rama 4 that i suggested we take.

    Meter was 261. While paying him the taxi paper from the automated system i got from the airport fell on the ground and i said to myself i will pick it up after i bring my baggage infront of our door. When i returned it was gone! I searched all over and it was gone. It wasnt swept by the wind. Obviously he took it as he felt guilty and scared. I asked him 3x where did he put it and denied it for obvious reasons.

    Called the complaint center and gave details of the taxi as i managed to take photo of the paper. They just listened to what i said but i dont think they gave any action to it.

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