It’s a rainy day, and you’re leaving late from work to catch a flight in three hours. You need to hurry but favor is stacked against you. Worse, with your only option is to take the taxi as you have bulky luggage you can’t tug along the streets to Airport Express.
You hail a taxi but gets rejected. “It’s too far,” the driver remarks about your destination and speeds away. You feel bummed, but so do other passengers who get the same treatment from the same cab driver and his gang who have become pickier this rainy evening.
We experience similar instances when, carrying oversized luggage, bulky shopping bags, or baby and strollers we get snubbed by Hong Kong taxi drivers. We have become at the mercy of their approval to get us in.
But more than just the dismissive behavior, typical — not all — taxi drivers in Hong Kong exhibit attitude that’s unbecoming of ambassadors of Hong Kong brand who overcharge tourists, snub locals, and curse at everybody. There are, in fact, typical habits they are notorious of, and we’re here to list them.
They pick and choose passengers
In many cases, you hope and pray the cab you hail will stop and consider you as a potential passenger. The next step is for him to agree to bring you to your desired destination. They seem to have the right of first refusal even if, under the law, they are not allowed to do so.
They don’t assist with your luggage
When you come in with several pieces of luggage or bulky items such as wheelchair or baby pram, don’t expect some taxi drivers to get out of their seats and lend a hand. Thankfully they can remotely close the doors so you don’t have to when your hands are full.
They allow themselves to get distracted
Phone calls, instant messaging apps, navigation maps, and other things that take their focus off the road are often found at a taxi’s dashboard. Not that these are necessary but it seems like driving on the road is just like walking on the street, one can still play with gadgets without much regard for safety.
They swear and curse at just about anything
Expats and visitors not familiar with the local language may be spared of the expletives but locals will often expect that their grumpy taxi driver will spew unmentionables about the traffic congestion, jaywalkers, and fellow unruly drivers.
They don’t help you with your luggage
If you’re a senior carrying extra luggage, or a pregnant woman with a little child and bags, there are drivers who don’t care to step out and offer a hand to open the trunk and place luggage, wheelchairs or strollers in their proper storage. They stick to their role as drivers and not extend it as porters or assistants.
They lease their trunk by charging more for every luggage placed there
Drivers make that automatic fare surcharge for every large item placed in the trunk, even if they didn’t lift a finger to carry them. Whether it’s the law that gives them the right to do so, at least being helpful will justify the extra money they take from passengers.
They drop you off at the wrong place, and then insist that it is correct
Expats may have a problem explaining the destination in Chinese, and use whatever resource is available: maps, mobile phones or call Chinese friends to make the instruction. Yet the driver brings you to the wrong place, unapologetic and even blame the passenger’s lack of knowledge or his apparent ignorance about places in Hong Kong.
They assume you’ll tip them and keep the change despite the bad service
By default, cab drivers must tender exact change unless the passenger offers it as a token of appreciation. But there are those who just want to squeeze the last penny out of the passenger’s pocket.
Their don’t take care of their taxi
Some taxis are well maintained and squeaky clean, but there are those that reek of cigarette smoke or other unpleasant odor. This is one reason why a certain number of travelers prefer to take Uber which operates cars with better upkeep.
They take the long way to get to your destination
Many drivers accept only short routes because if this means they’ll likely get another passenger — and reset the flag down rate — along the way. But there are those who also make extra money by overextending their passenger’s travel time by taking the long route.
They refuse to return items left in the taxi such as phones, bags or wallets without getting something in return
Left something? Good luck getting it back from the cab driver, who may ask for monetary compensation or simply denying the item was ever left behind.
They charge newcomers excessive amounts of money by negotiating the fare first and not activating the meter
Many passengers fall victim to this modus operandi as they are unaware of the real costs or didn’t do prior research about fares for cabs in the city.
With such types of bad behavior among certain taxi drivers, it is not surprising to hear proposals on implementing CCTV to rein in unruly cab drivers.
Do you have complaints against Hong Kong taxi drivers about their bad habits? Report them only by filling out details (plate number, the time it happened, pickup point, etc) in the online Taxi Complaint Form, or through the following channels:
Transport Complaints Unit
20/F, East Wing,
Central Government Offices,
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar, Hong Kong.
G.P.O. Box No. 12430
Fax No.: (852) 2577 1858