Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Taxi driver apprehended, thousands still free

I should note that the Champions League final was marred when a taxi driver beat up a Liverpool fan. According to news reports the fan and his children took the taxi from the airport to their hotel in Nea Makri. Upon arriving the driver requested 95 euros as his fee, when asked by the fan "why is it more than the 25 euros indicated by the meter" the driver offered him a discount and asked for only 75 euros. Most probably having had enough the fan asked for a reciept where he was then beaten in front of his children, and the taxi driver drove off with his luggage and more importantly his match tickets.

Now we hear that the police have actually caught the taxi driver in question (when asked he apparently didn't realise he left with their luggage but when he did find out he left it on the pavement so that a "concerned citizen" could return it to the rightfull owner.


I have relatives who are taxi drivers, unfortunatly however it can be really painfull and stressfull should you have to deal with taxi drivers. You could wait half an hour shouting out your destination to 70 taxis in the hope that one of them will take you to where you want to go. When you get in, if you are female you will of course be chatted up (and if you're really lucky invited out to a night of Cretan dancing!). You will be driven through random suburbs, slowly so that the driver can pick up a second or third passenger. Another trick they do is flick the thumb up while changing gear and change the meter from zone 1 to zone 2. Zone 2 is double and is used only after midnight. So if you land in Athens at 11:30 and need a taxi, forget it. They all dissapear until midnight so that they can charge double.

Without Discrimination

Taxi drivers may be the least racist of all Greeks. If its female they will hit on her. Foreigner or local, no difference, they will cheat both without discrimination.
When tourists come here they feel pity for them "Oh my how can they survive on such a low wage". Since these are the only working greeks they meet they fail to realise that wages are low for the vast majority living here. Its a tough place to survive.
What this has done however is given taxi drivers a feeling that they are entitled to more and entitled to cheat others to supplement their low income. Regardless of the fact that they are amongst the biggest tax evaders out there (up there with doctors and lawyers). Every second or third passenger is money in the pocket as there is no evidence of them using their service. Whenever the meter is not running, that too is money in the pocket.

Know your rights

When catching a taxi you might want to know that they are legally required to indicate that their taxi is Vacant (using the Eleuthero - Vacant sign on the dash) this is almost always turned down.
When they stop they are required to take you where you want to go - You don't have to stand like a hooker on a corner soliciting taxis for an hour or a minute.
They must ask your permission if you want another person to share your taxi.
They must leave you at the destination you specified otherwise they forfeit the fare.
You are entitled to a reciept (Legally speaking i think you are legally required to ask for one)
If you suspect that they are driving you in circles you can ask to be driven to a police department.
You can also take down their details and present them to the tourist police if you believe that you have been wronged.

Another note, the income they recieve from the taxi meter is decided upon by government in association with the Taxi drivers association. What is indicated on the meter, even if its a trip from Athens to Thessaloniki has been deemed enough for the taxi driver.
If you think thats low, well welcome to Greece!

PS. I just walk or try to take the Metro, who has time dealing with these clowns


Unknown said...

I'm with you m8!!!! By the way you forgot to mention how clean greek taxis are ;-)

Unknown said...

nice start of a blog..)))

Unknown said...

Turkish taxi drivers are my friends.
Maybe ribbed off twice in 5 years.
Compare that with Amsterdam or
Last time I took a cab in Saloniki the cab driver stopped because he had to go to the church...nice...
In Istanbul they put the meter off, if they by accident took the wrong way, and they bring your luggage in!!! a tip of 1 euro, taxi's are comfortable these days, a/c and non smoking!
Put you on my blog roll..))

dorin said...

I have a friend who is taxi driver in athens and believe me he is a very correct person.

graffic said...

I went to a job interview, and because I'm not very good with streets (how can I imagine that Vouliagmenis restarts numbers three times?) I wen't to the meeting point by taxi.

I was with a greek friend, so we had no problem, and as she was a girl, the taxi driver did the typical chitchat.

When I arrived to the place and I told the interviewer I had to take a taxi because the avenue was long. He asked me: only 5 euros? thats ok, they usually trick foreigners.

BTW: "You don't have to stand like a hooker on a corner soliciting taxis for an hour or a minute." <-- really?? I guess I've been more than one hour.

And its more, the taxis were out of order but they were asking where were we going, just in case they can get some more black money.

Who controls this?