Taxi Driver Scams, Kuala Lumpur
Taxis in Malaysia routinely don't use the meter unless you ask, and KL is no exception. Sometimes you ask, and they'll say no. OK, compared to London they're still cheap, but they're ripping you off and ripping off the taxpayer too. If a taxi driver does this to you, you can report them to SPAD, the public transportation agency. The easiest way to do this is to tweet @aduanspad with the details, and they'll contact you. The best way to ensure you don't get ripped off is to use the myteksi app for smartphones.
This is my true account of how I got ripped off by 2 taxi-drivers in KL.
Story with photos:
In December 2012, I was traveling in Kuala Lumpur for 8 days. Most parts of the trips were good and pleasant. Except my experience with the taxi drivers there.
For the first 6 nights, I was staying at a budget hotel called Beltif hotel. It was located near Times Square in Imbi.
On the second last day of my trip, I needed to go to the Hilton hotel at KL Sentral because I wanted to end the trip at a 5-star hotel.
My First Taxi Rip-off
At Beltif hotel, there was an affiliated taxi counter. I asked for a quote for going to Hilton hotel from there. It was only 13km away. So I figured that the fare should be around 15 RM. But the counter gave me a quotation of 25 RM. I thought it was too expensive and so decided to take a regular taxi instead.
I stepped outside and waved my arm to stop an incoming taxi. I asked the Muslim taxi-driver how much it would take to go to Hilton hotel. He pointed at the meter and so I got in.
Once inside that taxi, he pretended to not know the way to Hilton hotel. He acted like he had never heard of it in his life!!! While he pretended to be looking for the way, my GPS was showing I was moving away from the destination rather towards it! What the heck! I asked him to exit the highway at once. As soon as I another taxi queue, I ordered him to stop right there. The place happened to be somewhere near Jalan Robson, as my GPS showed.
After paying him 8 RM for taking me to nowhere, I stepped out angrily and took my luggage back from the trunk. I was too angry and uncool to record his license number.
That was my first taxi rip-off.
My Second Taxi Rip-off
There were a line of taxis waiting for their customers near where I got out of the first taxi.
I went to the head of the taxi line and an Indian taxi-driver approached me and said, "Taxi?".
"Yes. How much is it going to cost to go to Hilton Hotel from here?", I asked.
"Roughly 5 Ringets", he answered. That made sense to me because Hilton Hotel was only 3 km away from that location, as my GPS showed.
Hilton Hotel (Point B) was only 3 km away!
I thought to myself, "Great, at least this driver speaks English and his quote is proportional to the distance". So, I put the luggage into the trunk and got into the taxi.
Before he started the engine, he said something to me in Malay that I didn't understand. After a few seconds, I said again: "Hilton Hotel". He then replied, "Oh you are from Singapore?". I thought that he was being friendly and wanted to start a conversation, and so I replied, "No, I am from Hong Kong." In retrospect, it was the beginning of a bad journey. He was checking to see whether or not I was a tourist that he could rip off.
He then asked, "which way do you want to go?"
I said, "Take the shortest path."
"No way. You have to choose. Highway or local?"
I got a little bit skeptical. But then I thought perhaps there might be an even shorter path than the one shown in my GPS. So I said, "Highway."
He then drove farther and farther away from the destination. I then realized it was another rip-off. The second one in a row. I said, "We are going away from the hotel! I am looking at my GPS!!!"
"I know you are looking at the GPS. But you said you wanted to take the highway! If you want I can take a U-turn.", he defended.
"TAKE A U-turn!". I became angry. The meter was already showing 10RM.
At that time, he seemed to know that that I already realized his rip-off trick. After he took the U-turn, he was really going towards my destination, as my GPS showed.
Instead of stopping right in front of the hotel, he stopped at the road next to the hotel. I asked, "how much?".
As I gave him 5 RM, he said, "No way! I said the meter plus 5!"
The meter was showing 22 RM already.
What the heck!!!!
I was very angry. But my luggage was still in the trunk and so I paid 27RM reluctantly for a ride that should have only cost 5RM.
But before I paid, I took a picture of this dishonest and rogue taxi-driver:
The dishonest and rogue taxi-driver who ripped me off
As soon as I obtained my luggage from the trunk, I also took a picture of his license plate:
The broken license plate showed HWD 218. The last digit was missing.
He stepped on the gas and dashed off as he knew I was taking a picture of his taxi.
In retrospect, I should have taken a picture of him and his license plate before I got in. If I had known his license plate was broken, I would have gotten skeptical and avoided it.
I should have also shown him my GPS as soon as I got in, and asked him to follow the route figured out by Google Maps. That should have scared him.
Anyway, I will never take another taxi in Malaysia. Even if I will ever go there again.
If you intend to go out for a drink or see how the nightlife in Kuala Lumpur is, then I'd suggest that you should take this warning seriously.
After Midnight, there will be taxi drivers who are more than willing to take you back to your hotel with a condition that you agree not to use the meters and pay them a ridiculous amount. I agree with some people that there's not much choice and the government is not doing much to help the passengers with this scam but they take advantage of the helpless tourists and even locals who aren't driving.
For a short trip, they would charge 4 to 5 times higher than the usual price. Be careful!
Be careful of cabbies who overcharge and who take advantage of tourists. They charge thrice the normal fare (by meter). I suggest you bring a map with you so you can, more or less, know the distance of the place you're going to.
My friend and I tried to take a cab from Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) to Hard Rock, which is quite near, and the cabby's asking for MYR20 (SGD10). Upon seeing the disgust in our faces, he quickly revised the "fare" to MYR15. Not good enough, I told my friend and so, we walked from KLCC to Hard Rock. Guess what, no sweat at all!
Please do not take offer from individual offering taxi services from any airports in Malaysia. It's for your own safety as well as not been charged exobirtant fares.
You should purchase your taxi tickets from designated taxi booths or any car rental company should you need to drive.
Hey, im currently residing at hotel nikko in KL and its been already 5 days since im here. Ive got to learn alot about the taxis here in this short period of time. Here are a few tips:
1. Always take a taxi from a taxi stand as the drivers are mostly ready to use meters and even if they dont, they ask you a fair charge.
2. Never hire a taxi driven by an indian taxi driver as they'll mostly rip you off.
3. Old cab drivers are almost 99 times fair in telling the fare. I will mark my visit from my hotel to The Sunway Pyramid the longest and i paid the driver RM 26 using the meter. Where as earlier, i paid an indian taxi driver RM 30 for just taking me to Berjaya Times Square which was even less that 1/5th part of my journey to Sunway.
I hope everyone finds this tips usefull. Have a nice trip.
taxi drivers may charge you more than the usual fare specialy if they know you're a tourist.
when in KL Sentral, there's a taxi counter where you can get your coupon and charge you a fix rate depending on your destination.
the taxi counter is located near the skybus drop off pointon KL Sentral's ground floor. if you're on the 1st floor, take the exit near Mc Donald's, take the escalator/steps down and turn left, you'll see the taxi counter.
Most of the time I ride taxi due to the convenience it offer, and the availability on the streets.
I experienced a lot of good once and bad once…
There are taxis with a hidden manual switch or something when hit or pulled will automatically add 10 cent to the meter. There are some when you don’t know the exact destination, will make you go in circles and there are some who usually pretends they don’t know the place of your destination. Some starts the meter even before you told the location and go inside. Some would want you to go to the longest way possible. Some are not customer oriented. Some threatens you that he would bring you to the police. Some, I’m not so sure but they seems like very stupid for me to be qualified as Taxi drivers.
But there are some who’s so polite and kind; some are gentle on the pedals and drives like you’re riding on the clouds.
Taxis are generally safe, but they often refuse to use the meter and a few cabbies will gouge tourists mercilessly. If they won't use the meter, then don't take that taxi, as by law they are required to use the meter. However if you are desperate to use that taxi, agree on the fare in advance, and try to get an estimate of the cost from a local before you climb on board.
I thought being fluent in both English and Chinese would be enough to enjoy a holiday in KL. But I was wrong! It also takes a tough mind to get through all the constant rip-offs. One new scam is the so-called "limousine taxi".
I took a taxi from KLCC Suria to Chinatown on August 25th, 2007. After confirming with the driver that he would use the meter, I hopped in. It took us about 7 minutes to get to Central Market in Chinatown. I couldn't believe it when the driver asked for RM 95. He pointed at the meter and hey, it WAS showing 95! He then pointed at the sticker on his front window and explained that his taxi was a LIMOUSINE TAXI! He is obviously living in a fantasy world since his car looks just like all the other taxis in KL.
He took out a receipt printed with "limousine taxi" and was ready to write, but I told him I would only pay RM 10 (although it should have been no more than RM 5 with the meter!) and if he didn't like it, we could go to the police. He protested, and even kindly offered to take me back to my hotel to get more money. So I just left RM 10 and got out, ignoring his protests. As soon as I got out I took this picture, but he drove away quickly so the number plate isn't clear.
Anyway, hope this story helps you to avoid the "limousine taxi" trap!
Upon your arrival at Sepang International Airport, you can either take ERL (Express Rail Link) for USD10 to KLSentral (a city train/bus/taxi hub) or Airport Limo. Ask from the information counter where to buy coupon for Airport Limo. Only take airport limo and buy the coupon from the airport limo counter. To be safe, do not take city taxi to avoid overcharging. Pls refer url below for Airport Limo Fare are Charges.
If you know where you're going and you know how to get there, then feel free to take the taxi. If you don't, and if you must take the taxi, ask the hotel concierge or someone you trust there for directions and how much roughly the trip will cost.
There are some taxi drivers there who purposely take the long route and charge you unnecessarily, even with the meter! If you can, take the transit train and walk. It's cheaper and it's more fun that way!
Many taxi drivers (on a number of occasions, the local Malay ones) love to extort high taxi fares from visitors. Many of them refused to switch on the meter and instead, rely on bargaining as a tool. I generally (the word here is "generally") do not face this issue when it comes to the local Chinese or local Indian drivers.
You should never pay more than MYR10 for traveling within the City itself. Haggle and bargain if necessary and walk away to another taxi if necessary. Why give these lying folks the satisfaction of earning that extra hard-earned money from you?
(Disclaimer: Fellow VT member "khal2zu" took offence at what he perceives as racial discrimination in this tip. I stand by my observations, which are made based purely on my personal experiences. You may have much more pleasant experiences, of local drivers of all races and I wish every traveler the best of fortunes and luck.)
Beware of taxi drivers parked in front of the hotels, we found them to be the worst for refusing to use their meters. And if you do take a taxi back to a hotel from another location – Always ask to be dropped off at a loaction near the hotel (mall, resturant, cross street) because if you mention an upscale hotel the will argue the fare higher.
Yes, taxi drivers will want to 'not use the meter'. It just so happens that taxi's are so really really cheap, that it does not make much of a difference. What we did was to always ask BEFORE getting in... 'Use meter?' If they say no, slam the door closed, and look for someone else. Now, when you DO get a meter-using guy, make sure you tip him. We would say: good tips to meters. So, if the meter was 5RM, we'd give a 5RM tip as well. This will encourage these guys to use the meters.