Taxi Driver Scams, Kuala Lumpur
This is written by a local KL cab driver. For taxi drivers and tourists to KL and Malaysia in general.
I last drove a KL cab 9 years ago in mid-2002 and started to drive a KL taxi again just this week... April 2011. So much for improvement up the socio-economic ladder! OK, OK... KL taxi drivers are an opportunistic lot... they have to be because of the long working hours for a nett profit of RM100-150/day. And many a time, the daily take is half of that! In USD/AUD $, that's between $33-50/day for 10 hours or more on the road. This daily take has not changed much since 2001. So saying, the government is not doing cab drivers any favour by increasing the dollar/km taxi rate in July 2009. It is cancelled out by inflation and rising taxi rental fees, petrol and NGV prices.
Admittedly, the number of errand taxi drivers exceed honest cab drivers. Many love waiting in lines outside shopping malls, others like the 4-5 star hotel circuits. Some have blogs and websites announcing their services but never seem to charge their published rates once they snare a tourist. Meters? Some find it bothersome to flick it 'ON'. Some are definitely RUDE, THREATENING and LOUD.
Unique Suggestions: The 'how-to' in getting KL taxis?
1. Avoid taxi parked just outside mall and hotel entrances. 90% are scumbags.
2. If a taxi rank exist, immediately 'Ask' if they use the meter. DO NOT get into the taxi when doing so, just open the door and ask. Get in if the answer is YES. Repeat process twice and walk away from the taxi rank if the answer is still NO.
3. Hail a Taxi a few meters (say 30-50metres) away from the taxi rank or group of taxi drivers. Chances are a taxi will stop and take you using a meter. Always remember to ask on 'meter use' first.
4. Remember this: Taxis in KL and Selangor use meters (they should anyway) only in urban areas/city limits. Inter-city fares are negotiated and generally reflect fair fares. I carry a fare list for inter-city travel to make sure I don't short-change myself or my passenger!
5. On inter-city trips, if you ride in a metered taxi or 'Teksi Bermeter', that taxi ride is yours and yours only for that trip! Never get on a cab with 'Kereta Sewa' markings on its roof and doors. It is actually a Hired Car (it is a legal cab by the way)! It means the driver can and will stop along the way to pick up other passengers before dropping you off. Chances are he will quote you a figure higher than a metered taxi and ask your fellow passengers to do like wise. So he then goes home early after getting twice or triple the going rate. They exist, so be WARNED!
6. Any trip to KLIA or LCCT attract a standard (legal) RM12 surcharge in addition to toll fares for metered taxis. It is the law under Circular 8 of CVLB, 2009.
7. KL taxis can go as far as Cameron Highlands (not Ipoh, OK) in the north and Port Dickson/ Malacca down south.
8. Last but not least, always hint to a BAD BOY taxi driver you will report his taxi and/or his name to JPJ (Road Transport Dept) or LPKP (Comm. Vehicle Licensing Board). Use the Malay acronyms OK? They know they will earn demerit points if queried and proven guilty.
Fun Alternatives: Use the KTM Komuter inter-city train or the LRT or Monorel service if you feel you are not in any hurry to explore the city.
Fair taxi drivers exist in KL. But they are the minority. Remember, not many taxi drivers drive for the joy of it. Many cut corners, overcharging and the tourists' problems usually start from that point onwards.
But, if any out there do feel a need to take a taxi in Kuala Lumpur (KL) or Selangor or Malacca any time soon, give me a call at +60 14 6277046 (from outside Malaysia) or just 014 6277046. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I may be able to help you get to your destination or point you to someone who can.
Having travelled around the globe for the best part of 40yrs I recently had the misfortune of visiting KL. My family and I were ripped off 9 times out of 10 in our dealings with these dishonest bastards. On one occassion, because I had the temerity to question why the meter wasnt on I was nearly run over by the driver, this was infront of my 6 yr old son and wife. I have to admit arguing with him before this point but the idiot was a total scam artist nay, criminal. Whatever you do, just try and avoid the cabs at all cost. There is no foolproof way of not getting scammed. You can buy vouchers from taxi cubicles for predetermined destinations. In theory this is the best way...but the minute you are in the cab the driver will start complaining and asking for more money. I really dont want to return to KL because of them and they are an absolute disgrace to their country. If Malaysia hopes to attract tourism one of the first improvement they will have to make is to the "taxi industry"...
Unique Suggestions: Avoid taking taxis at all costs.
Fun Alternatives: public transport or walk, or simply don't stop in Malaysia.
I share this incident as a cautionary tale and warning to others. After a pleasant evening exploring Chinatown last night, we left jalan petaling at around 11.15pm to flag down a taxi outside McDonald's.
There were many about and one quickly pulled up in front of us and my wife opened the front door opposite the driver's seat to ask the usual, "Taxi meter, Times Square?"
The driver said yes and we were eagerly got into the back of the taxi pleased with how quickly we had secured an 'honest' driver it being only our first attempt. Other times around chinatown it had taken three or four attempts at 'Taxi metre?' to find a taxi that would use the meter. So we were both in a good mood, however, this was to be very short-lived.
"Where are you from?" The taxi driver asked. And I answered politely, and then he said, "you shouldn't ask me if is on the meter or not. There is a clear sign on the door that says 'negotiating a fare is prohibited. I am an honest..."
I was furious, "Are you kidding? Seventy per cent of the drivers don't use the meter in this country? That's ridiculous!"
The cab driver immediately pulled up by the traffic island after having just completed his U-turn under the bridge, and I said to my wife, 'let's just get out and leave it'. The driver muttered some indignity, and we quickly walked on.
Next thing, we know, this same taxi driver pulls up in front of us and jumps out of his taxi. "You pay me for the journey!" He barks at me. I tell him that's ridiculous when he had stopped the car without taking us anywhere except over the road. My wife tries to explain this to him, and he starts angrily waving one or two ringgit in the air, and saying something like if we hadn't got it he could give us it.
In retrospect, I suspect this is all about him trying to 'save face', but at the time I just thought this old shiek looking guy was demented. I held my wife back with one arm and asked him to call the police, pointing with the other, and told him we'd wait for them to arrive.
In retrospect, too, I don't think this was a particularly good idea, because he took out his mobile to make a call. I thought he was calling the police, but, if you're thinking like I'm thinking now after reading the posts here, this could have been anyone, and maybe not a 'somebody' so friendly either.
Maybe I should have taken my phone out and pretended to call the Police? Or would that be inflaming the situation?
The driver then returned to his taxi, but he didn't drive off. What was he waiting for? I couldn't help thinking.
I hailed another taxi, and it stopped, and it was a younger man, and he agreed to the meter, but no sooner had my wife climbed in the back, than the old taxi driver had jumped out of his cab and waved his arms in front of this taxi, 'Don't take them!'
A taxi driver who complains that you dare ask him if he's honest, in a corrupt industry, refuses to take you to your destination and then tries to stop another taxi driver from taking you instead, is a taxi driver from hell to me!
With all his cursing I hadn't been sure if he would have turned violent, or sought others to turn violent against me, but I certainly felt threatened and very protective of my wife, but I wasn't about to show him any sign of weakness.
As he argued with the driver not to take us at the new taxi driver's window, rather than get into the taxi, I quickly took out my phone and took a photo of the old taxi driver's licence plate, and then the old driver moved away, and I took a photo of him.
He came around the front of the car towards me, but I climbed in the back and told the driver to go! And despite the old man's protests, the younger taxi driver shrugged and drove off, with the words, "What happened back there?"
I still do not really know what happened back there, which is partly why I am writing this, too, and I would welcome any other views on what happened back there. My wife nervously rushed to explain, I think for fear this driver might do the same, and just dump us by the edge of the road.
He didn't. We were dropped off safely, paid the meter fare, and were enormously over-grateful. However, we were both left stunned and a little shocked by the experience. I can still see the old driver yelling, 'F**k you' from the driver's window as he drove by us, before stopping in front of us. Maybe I shouldn't have returned the remark, but it was unnerving.
There are clearly some taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur, 'Malaysia truly Asia', who are a law unto themselves. These drivers are clearly unintimidated by any regulations, indeed, who make a mockery of the attempts to regulate the industry with signs like 'negotiating fares prohibited' on the door, by being threatening and giving verbal abuse now!
I have since read that drivers like this get away with it because there is no regulatory body to control them, and taxi operating companies are 'in with' corrupt politicians so fear no reprisals from the police, either. Clearly, something needs to done about this, and if anyone has any ideas how I could go about reporting this, with any hope of a satisfactory outcome being achieved I would love to hear from them.
Otherwise, you have been warned...
Unique Suggestions: Dare I suggest ask first, "Taxi meter?"
Fun Alternatives: 1) If in any doubt, don't get into the taxi.
2) Don't enter into conversation with the taxi driver about anything. "No English" may suffice.
3) Try to avoid travelling alone in a taxi.
4) Take a mobile photo of the license plate BEFORE you get into the taxi - it may be too late afterwards! And/or write down the taxi driver's particulars once in the cab - these should be in a photo ID on the dashboard.
5) Avoid taking taxis altogether, like me, I will learn to use the LRT wherever possible in future.
First of all. 90% of KL taxi drivers are pure SCUM, and will rip you off if you give them the oppertunity. This usually means a fixed price that is 2-3 times more than the meter price. Never ride with a taxi on a fixed price. Fixed price is ALLWAYS a ripoff, no matter what the driver says. Remember that every time when approaching a taxi.
After living and working in KL for some time now I have a few tips on how to approach the taxi drivers.
The only way to approach the drivers is to in a clear voice say "METER" followd by your destination.
Meter shall allways be the first word you say. Don't say hello or anything else to them first. Never give them the oppertunity to start a conversation. What is important is to from the very start make it clear for the driver that you will accept nothing else than the meter fare. If he doesn't accept immediately just walk away. He will not change his mind.
Don't ever let the driver start the conversation. Then you are lost. If you do the driver will allways start to ask where you want to go, then he will get into some argument about traffic jam, too short distance, too long distance etc etc. Finally he will he will end up with a fixed price, and make it look as he is doing you a favor. He isn't.
You are most likely to find a taxi willing to go by meter if you hail it from the street. Forget about the taxis waiting outside the hotels and tourist attractions (they are there one reason only, and that is to rippoff people.). At less profiled locations you are much more likely to find a waiting driver willing to accept the meter fare.
Every time I have been to the Petronas Towers I have just for fun tried to get a metered taxi. Not even once have I succeed. But by walking only 50m out to the street I allways manage to hail a metered taxi quite quickly.
Ok, so lets say you have found yourself a metered taxi. This is however no guarantee that you will pay the meter fare. Keep you eyes on the meter during the entire trip. Sometimes the total amount on the meter increases significantly because the driver manipulates the meter. These drivers tend to drop you off on the street outside your hotel, instead of pulling up to the hotel, where the hotel staff could help you out with a difficult driver. When you are getting close to the hotel be very clear with the driver to pull up to the front door.
Driving detours is another scam. Learn your way around. If the driver, for some reaseon, says he have to go a different way than the shortest route he is lying.
Allways make sure the driver has a visible identification card and meter on the dash board before getting in. You don't want to travel in an illeagal taxi with an uncertified dirver.
Don't opt for taxis outside hotels along Bukit Bintang, don't even try to talk to one of the taxi driver or they will have a flock of taxi drivers to get you in their taxis and confuse you with words like "it's too far" or "traffic jam"
Walk towards Sungei Wang / Berjaya Times Square for taxi with normal rates and meter instead.
Just like any other city, Jakarta , Bangkok etc. Taxi driver some are helpful and some are not.
In Kuala Lumpur, I usually take the Innovasi Orange Cab. In Jakarta, I will take the Blue Bird. And Bangkok ... it is a bit different I was force to take the Pink Taxi .. b'cos my kids love pink taxi.
Be careful when catching taxis that they don't rip you off. We found that every time we negotiated a price with taxis before taking our trip that we paid twice as much. Sure, it may only be an extra $3 or $4, but it adds up when you're catching taxis everywhere!
My experiences in KL were not all bad.
Starting off at the airport, you do have to prepurchase a ticket at the airport for the taxis, you head out side to the rank, and just give the taxi-guard the ticket, and he will hail you a cab - it is approx $92MYR to get from LCCT into KL itself. So its nice not having to haggle straight off the plane - its all prepaid.
Once you get into the city... try to avoid getting taxi's that are parked, or outside big tourist destinations - this is where the scammers will wait for you! I tend to walk a few blocks away, and hail a cab.
First question to ask, "are you using the metre" they will probably ask you where you are going, if they offer you a price, smile and say "no thanks" and get out, and find someone who will run the meter. Sometimes it might take a few tries, but it will be worth it.
Also, you will find that the older drivers are less likely to try and rip you off, as they are more oldschool i suppose. Avoid taxi's who beep at you, and yell out - just a scam waiting to happen really.
Enjoy KL :D
Unique Suggestions: So, the best advice i can offer is walk away from the big tourist areas, and hale a moving cab!
Fun Alternatives: KL has some of the best public transport systems in the world. The trains come every 2-3mins... and they have connecting Monorail and Bus services at the bigger stations.
Everything is in English, and very easy to work out which train is going where. I highly recommend using the trains where possible. Cheap too!
Try to always take a taxi with a metre. Some taxis operate without a metre and charge what they want.
Unique Suggestions: If the taxi does not have a metre when you step in, negotiate before you leave the price not once you are at the destination.
Of all the great experiences that I had while in KL, not once was it with a taxi driver. They all tended to try and take advantage of this tourist.
Before coming here I did note some phone numbers from VT'ers who had recommended some taxi drivers in KL.
In her KL transportation tip, uysijessa wrote that Steve is the guy to call and I don't doubt for a minute that her own experience was a good one.
Mine wasn't. I called Steve on his mobile as listed on uysijessa's tip and I got through straight away. I asked him to arrange a taxi to Shah Alam and he said it would cost RM80. I thought that it must be further there than what I believed so I accepted his quote.
Steve himself couldn't make the trip to Shah Alam as he was off to Melaka so he arranged another taxi for me. The other guy guy picked us up from our condo and within 45min we were in Shah Alam.
I protested that RM80 was too much for short-ish trip but he argued that I had already accepted the quote. I don't go back on my word so I had to (reluctantly) hand over the previously agreed fare.
Anyway, I will leave it to you to make your own decision on whether or not to contact Steve for a taxi.
A lot of taxis in KL try their hardest to scam tourists although I do have to say that they improve a little more. For instance outside Times Square, there is a ticket booth where you can purchase fare for a taxi. You just have to tell them your destination. And their prices are fixed too. I believe a lot of other places will have such service especially tourists destination. You just need to ask.
I do agree with the lots here but I disagree with the part where people are advised to sit in front. It is always better to sit at the back if you are alone and especially if you are a female. The reason being is if the driver is going to shove a knife (to rob you for instance) at you, you are always the advantageous one being at the back. Being at the back does not mean you are to lay back though. Watch the meter and if it is "jumping" fast tell them to stop and you can pay them and get down. That way you can avoid "fighting" or arguing with the driver. Also make sure you got a taxi that runs meter and not offering whatever prices. If they do offer, tell them to run the meter. If not just get another one. Another tips is to always get the taxi plate number, driver's name, and the company's name. This is crucial if you actually left important stuff like passport ( I hope no one ever does) in the taxi.
I am a Malaysian but not being back to KL for some years, I look and speak like any other tourist. Therefore a lot of taxis tried to scam me too. Fortunately for me, I met some decent taxi drivers and personally know some, and these are the advices they gave me. Be smart and do NOT leave anything. All in all, taxis fare in KL is really inexpensive compare to many places if you are smart to take the tips.
To anyone visiting KL I would advise to get a local taxi driver and make friends and use him at all times. He will appreciate the rgular fares and be of assisstance to you. I adopted a lovely man called Vincent and not only did he take us whever we wanted at a reasonable fare but on our departure from KL he gave us a little gift as a memento of our visit. I wish I could remember his tel No. to let people see that not all taxi drivers are crooks.
best way to travel
Unique Suggestions: Recently been to KL. Nice city friendly people. Taxi's are unique as they do not run on meters.
best way out is to fix the fare before you travel.If require bargain with them, within city limits do not pay more than 10 ringets if you are travelling slightly farther e.g the national zoo then 20 ringets should be o.k. No point in skipping taxis till you find someone who would agree to ride by meter. Best bargain with them as they are not too unresonable.
Whatever you do, do not take the LCCT taxi services! Even in your most desperate moments. The following is a summary of their absolutely degrading, demeaning (for Malaysians) and high handed services.
My flight arrived from Bali (AK 905) on 8th February 2008 @ 10.30pm. There are two passengers (including myself) and 1 large baggage with 4 other smaller bags. Upon queuing up for about half an hour, I was informed that there are no more tickets for budget or (mini van) category taxi's. They offered premier taxi's that cost RM77.30 to the Subang area. The lady at the counter asked me which area I was residing and I informed her it was in the Subang area near Hyatt hotel. She recorded this in the receipt which I still have. Below are more detailed accounts of the whole episode:
1. Walked aimlessly to the domestic counter from the taxi counter which is about 100 meters away. Not a very convenient location.
2. Found the premier taxi's by accident since there were no signs to direct us there. Went up to the taxi driver of a black Hyundai bearing registration number WAQ 5372 and handed the ticket to the driver.
3. Loading of luggage into the trunk of the taxi was done by me with the driver just looking on instead of lifting a finger to help
4. The driver sped to the destination as I think he wanted to return to the airport to get the after midnight 50% extra on picking up more passengers. The luggage in the trunk was thrown around including fragile items that were purchased.
5. Upon arrival near the destination, the driver insisted to drop us off at Hyatt hotel instead of our house which is in Puncak Nusa Kelana Condo. This is when the extortion begins.
Unique Suggestions: con't....
6. From the underpass where he was about to make his decision it was 500 meters to Hyatt and 800 meters to our home. The driver started asking for more money and extorting us threatening not to drop us off at the destination, slowing down the taxi and mentioning that the amount usually charged is RM77 not RM71. He failed to realise that I had paid RM77!
7. I bit my lip and allowed him to drive to our home where I opened the trunk myself and unloaded the baggage with the taxi driver looking on.
8. I then gave the driver a tongue lashing as he was no longer in control of the situation. He challenged me to make a report and took down the condo details. He asked the guards at the condo for my name and unit number and threatened to send "people" over. He said that the amount for this area is usually RM99 which was firstly not communicated to me when I got the ticket and if he had issues he should deal with the company not with the passengers. For another 200 meters the cost is RM20? If that is the case, it is approximately 180KM from my condo to LCTT so using the same costing of RM10 for 100 meters the total taxi cost should be RM18,000! Perhaps the drivers should also consider education at least if not for themselves, for their children; otherwise they would end up with the same mathematical and other mental deficiencies.
Ensure the correct address and fare are printed on teh receipt
Get written confirmation
Get the supervisor contact number in the event of problems
Request for polite driver (if at all possible to find one)
Fun Alternatives: Local taxi with meter
Call taxi from KLIA airports @ 60387778888
The company (at the ONLY counter just after arrival immigration services) monopolises the entire airport area. Because of this monopoly they feel they can operate in any fashion that they desire. This is a farce and giving Malaysia a very bad reputation for tourists especially of being hit by touts as soon as they enter our country! It’s not enough that the tourists are manipulated but the Malaysian's themselves are conned in the same way! LCCT is either just turning a blind eye to this or working hand in hand with these operators as they have done nothing despite numerous posts and complaints. Syabas LCCT...another job well done! Malaysia boleh!
I can be contacted on email@example.com for verification of authenticity of this posting.
It seems that Malaysia is the only country in Asia where the price of taxis rise faster than the inflation of the country.
There are some tips, tourist should be careful about when taking taxis in Malaysia, especially KL.
Ask if they go according to the taxi meter, otherwise ask them to quote a fair before boarding. If you can speak Malay, they might charge you a local rate.
Try not to hail a taxi from the curb side.
Do not hail a taxi outside your hotel. It is amazing how high the flag down rates for a trip downtown can be.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain with them if possible. Most of the time, they will relent.
Fun Alternatives: Wear T-shirts of the Malaysia companies such as HSBC, Maybank etc so they will think you are locals and charge you less.
Try to take the LRT is possible. This way you aviod teh jams and get to your destination faster with less fustrations
Take the Rapid KL bus that takes you to most major tourist attractions.