Taxi trickery

Thieves in Prague: the three front center will get what the taxis don't.
Thieves in Prague: the three front center will get what the taxis don't.

After an eventful overnight train journey we were disgorged into a very foreign Sunday morning. Not a single sign in Prague’s main train terminal was in friendly English, or any other language we could make out; not even an exit sign. The station was haunted by solitary figures standing, smoking, watching, waiting. It took us half an hour to find a dismal tourist information booth. The grouchy attendant, stingy with his every word, pushed a map at us through a slit in his glass barrier and considered himself done. Averse to bribing a public servant, we persisted with our questions, formulating the same query in endless shapes. Finally, we extracted this gem: taxi fare to our hotel ought to be two hundred koruna, about six dollars.

The taxi drivers had something else in mind.

“Meter,” they said, “more fair.”

Our bags were loaded into the trunk and we got in.

“About how much,” we asked.

“Meter,” the driver insisted. Again we pressed for an estimate, and the driver finally said seven hundred. Seven hundred! Out we got, and out with our bags. The driver said something to the other waiting taxi drivers, and we were certain we wouldn’t get a ride from any of them. So we walked.

A few blocks down the street we flagged down a passing taxi. He too, suggested the meter. We said c’mon, about how much. Three hundred, he said. Okay. We watched the meter start spinning. No way was it a legal spin. As the meter crept to four hundred, we protested, and the driver agreed to a flat three hundred.

“The taxi drivers wanted seven hundred koruna!” I exclaimed in outrage to the hotel receptionist.

“They are thieves,” was his simple reply.

But they were not the thieves we were interested in.

Excerpt from Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams
Chapter Two (part-i): Research Before You Go

©copyright 2000-2009. All rights reserved. Bambi Vincent

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2 Comments

  • The only times I have ever been robbed was in a Taxi cab by the driver and his crooked fares. This has happened around the globe (even in Washington DC) and no one seems to care to stop it except NYC.

  • Oh wow. Sorry to hear that. And sorry to hear Czech… [whatever it’s called today] has so gone to the dogs.

    But this happened to us in Stockholm once too. When they let loose the monopoly. How to tell a white taxi from the rest of the trash? We were at Arlanda and we had no clue. Finally we got out of our taxi too – but what a brutal ride. And it still cost us a fortune. And when we called the authorities we found it was totally legal. Some legality. Usch!

    So you’re in Europe again? Were you home long enough to water the flowers? ;)

    All the best!

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