Tourists warned about shameless taxi scam
TOURISTS in Paris are warning others after a cabbie tried to scam them into paying almost five times the real cost of a taxi - and then got angry when they refused.
The couple, from Thailand, filmed an incident in which a taxi driver tried to charge them an eye-watering fee of €247 ($385) for a 45km ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city centre.
Official Paris cabs charge a flat rate from the airport of €50 ($78) to anywhere on the Right Bank of Paris and €55 ($86) to anywhere on the Left Bank. It's based on rules introduced in 2016.
But in the video, which was uploaded to YouTube, the driver angrily insists his €247 fee is correct and argues with the couple after they challenge it.
He tells the couple taxi fees in Paris were "not fixed price. It's by (the) meter." The meter appears to be an app on the driver's phone.
The video shows the driver getting angry when the couple demand to see his licence. He also lunges towards the back seat to stop one of the tourists filming him with his phone.
At one point, the couple ask to be taken to a police station so they can sort out the matter.
"I'm not going to police. You pay me, you go to police. What is your problem?" the driver tells them.
After many tense minutes of arguing, the couple eventually agree to pay a compromise price of €200 ($311) so they can finally get out of the cab.
One of the tourists, Charkrid Thanhachartyothin, told Le Parisien the driver had locked the doors.
"He did not want to let us out, and kept driving while (supposedly) phoning his company to find a compromise."
"So, we decided to pay €200 to get out."
The driver said he belonged to Chauffeur Prive. It is a legitimate company but its website advertises a flat rate of €45 ($70), The Independent reported.
The couple has already left Paris, but police are understood to be investigating the incident.
They said they wanted their experience to be "a case study for other Thai people or travellers to be conscious while they are travelling."
The video has clocked up more than 200,000 views on YouTube.
Paris is the third most visited city in the world, with 17.44 million tourists visiting in 2017.
On its website, Paris Airport advises visitors to say no to people posed as taxi drivers who approach them outside the baggage claim area, as official drivers operate this way.
Visitors should go outside the terminal for the dedicated taxi area and look for an illuminated sign on the outside of the cab and a meter on the inside.
The airport also says visitors can pre-book taxis through the official site for peace of mind.
OTHER SCAMS TO WATCH FOR IN EUROPE
Travel insurance company Travel Insurance Direct said there was a variety of common crimes targeting tourists in Europe this year.
• The "there's something on your shirt!" scam: A foul substance such as fake bird droppings or mustard is splashed on to your shirt, and while a "helpful stranger" cleans it off for you someone picks your pocket.
• The infamous "gold ring" scam: A passer-by stops you and says you've dropped something, and shows you a "gold" ring. It's either a distraction technique - and your pocket is picked - or they insist you pay them a reward for finding it.
• "There's something wrong with your car!" scam: As you're driving a car pulls alongside and the driver indicates there's something drastically wrong with the rear of your vehicle. You stop, and as you and the stranger go to inspect the problem an accomplice makes off with your wallet/purse from the front seat.
• Hotel rats of Paris: Gangs of thieves are disguising themselves as tourists and infiltrating hotels around Paris. Some of them are opportunistic and will hang out in the lobby waiting for luggage and personal belongings to be left unattended before swooping.
Others are a bit more sophisticated and will actually check into hotels popular with tourists and then break into other hotel rooms to steal valuables.
• Moped gangs of London: Groups of armed thieves are roaming the streets on mopeds and scooters mugging and assaulting unassuming pedestrians and motorists. This includes tourist who are seen as easy prey. These gangs have a propensity for violence and are usually armed with bats, axes, knifes and won't hesitate in using force to get their way.
If you've fallen victim to pickpockets, scams or other crimes on holiday, make sure you notify the police immediately and contact your travel insurer's emergency assistance team should you need any medical assistance.
Has something happened to you on holiday? Email firstname.lastname@example.org