​Hospital-goers fall for unlicensed cabbie’s scams in Ho Chi Minh City

The driver said his taxi usually charges by the hour, not the distance

An unlicensed taxi picks up a passenger in front of the Oncology Hospital in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Several cab drivers in front of a major hospital in Ho Chi Minh City have been found to be charging passengers exorbitant fares.

A recent probe by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper has revealed that several taxi drivers in front of the Oncology Hospital, located in Binh Thanh District, have been overcharging passengers. 

On the evening of August 17, a resident named P. picked a Daewoo-made taxi with the logo of Vantaitaxi to travel from the infirmary to his home on Ho Van Hue Street in Phu Nhuan District.

Both sides of the car were also showing the name of the company and a hotline number of 54 27 27 27.

The driver introduced himself as Teo, claiming to have over 20 years of experience and excellent knowledge regarding the city’s streets.

It took Teo over 10 minutes to take his passengers on a 3.3 kilometer journey.

“We are here. The fare is VND502,000, but I will only charge you VND500,000 [US$22],” the cabbie told P. at the end of his trip.

“The journey involved traveling on several one-way streets, making the distance longer, and thus the fare is of course higher,” he explained to his passenger about the exorbitant fare.

As P. demanded to know how many kilometers they had traveled, Teo stated that his taxi charges customers by the hour, adding that one hour costs about VND950,000 ($48).

While the passenger was making his payment, the fare went up to VND514,000 ($23).

“You wasted my time. I would have charged you the extra cost,” Teo complained.

Earlier on August 16, Tuoi Tre journalists followed the same cab driven by Teo, who was taking H. from the hospital toward Mien Dong (Eastern) Bus Station in Binh Thanh District.

The 5.1 kilometer trip cost her VND905,000 ($40).

After H. said she did not have enough money, Teo decided to lower the fare by VND200,000 ($9), threatening that he would call the police if she did not pay.

“An hour in this cab costs VND1.5 million [$67]. You should pay your fare as the operators of our taxi company are aggressive people,” Teo continued.

H. said she would call the hotline of Vantaitaxi to report the issue, before the driver revealed that the number was fake.

As a security guard of the bus station came over to intervene, Teo said he had received a phone call from his operator and quickly drove away.

The probe revealed that Teo often ‘preys’ on passengers around the Oncology Hospital, whose visitors are patients and their family members.

An unlicensed taxi picks up a passenger in front of the Oncology Hospital in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
An unlicensed taxi picks up a passenger in front of the Oncology Hospital in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

According to N., one of Teo’s passengers, she had to pay VND550,000 ($24) to the driver to travel from the clinic to her house in District 2, with the usual fare only about VND110,000 ($5).

T., another resident, said she had fallen victim to the scam in late June, adding that the driver only looked at the time once he counted her fare.

According to Duong Tien Thu, director of the transport cooperative that owns the hotline number 54 27 27 27, many passengers have been contacting the institution to complain about the same problem.

Thu asserted that Teo did not work for the cooperative but in fact was an unlicensed taxi driver.

“We have filed a report of the case to competent authorities,” the director continued.

It is advisable that passengers remain calm if they find themselves in such a situation, said Dr. Truong Van Vy, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

If the destination is a crowded public space, passengers should ask for help from other members of the public and relevant authorities, Dr. Vy explained.

However, if the location is secluded, passengers should pay the fare, remember some features of the cab and its driver and then report them to police officers, he added.

Teo states the fare to his passenger. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Teo states the fare to his passenger. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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