Travel Tips

Singapore Taxis

The day Mummy lost her shit…………!!

TAXI DRIVER FRAUD: Have you ever made a stupid blunder and thought to yourself afterwards “I just KNEW I shouldn’t have done that??'” well today was my day.

I have taken enough taxi rides in Singapore during our two visits here this year to have a rough idea of how much they cost, and certainly enough to know immediately when I am being ripped off!

On the majority of occasions I have used ‘Grab’ in Singapore which is their equivalent of Uber in other countries. Today we needed a car to take us from the Vivo City mall to the Gardens by the bay, a journey which is just 5.8 km and as you can see below an estimated journey time of around 7 minutes.

I had looked up the cost of the journey on the Grab app and it said SNG$ 8 – this was fine but as we were in a large mall I couldn’t find the exact pick up point so headed for the main taxi rank instead. It was a very hot & sticky day and there was quite a long queue for the taxis but as we approached we saw a man standing by a “taxi” on the opposite side of the road; a white London Style Cab which is quite unique & distinctive here in Singapore.

White London Cab – virtually identical to the one which picked us up in Singapore.

The driver crossed the road and approached us asking if we wanted a taxi? I replied yes but we were just going to the main taxi rank. He then asked where we were going and I told him, he said “I will drive you for fifteen dollars”

It was almost double what the Grab app had quoted but I knew a regular taxi would be a little more than that anyway, and hey it did mean we wouldn’t have to wait in the long queue in the stifling heat and humidity, so we went with him. If it had been any other type of car I wouldn’t have got in solely given that he wasn’t on the taxi rank with the other cars, but the fact he had a London style cab assured me he was an official taxi.

As soon as we were away in the car he tapped into the meter not $15 but $50! The meter wasn’t running as it would in other taxis but remained fixed on the $50 for the entire journey. I knew instantly that this was wrong as when we had come down from the airport earlier in the week, a journey of 27.2 km had only cost us $25 and that was including a tip!

I had the sense the quickly go back on the Grab app and call up the journey again with the quoted price of $8 and took a screen shot.

When we arrived at Gardens of the bay just a few minutes later I handed the driver the $15 as we got out of the car. He instantly said “that’s not enough, fifty dollar” – “NO” I told him ” you said FIFTEEN dollars and that’s still almost double what Grab is quoting” – said as I shoved my phone under his nose with the screen shot. Then he started shouting “It fifty dollar, fifty I told you, look look it in the meter”

At that moment I kind of lost my shit with him, which I rarely do and even Cameron said to me later “Mummy, I have never heard you shout at anyone before!!” However, I’d quickly pointed out to the driver rather loudly that he was a crook and was fiddling the meter and I was more than happy to report him to the police. I thought that might stop him in his tracks but he was still shouting at me “fifty dollar, give me the money like I tell you”

“F*** you” I shouted as I grabbed Cameron’s hand and started walking away at a rather rapid pace. I was shaking and just waiting for Cam to burst into tears as he is not used to seeing me angry, but instead of his bottom lip starting to wobble as I had expected, he looked back at the driver and shouted “yeah mate you’re an absolute idiot!” I couldn’t help but laugh – like mother, like son!

On the way back we got a taxi to the hotel (from the taxi rank, obviously) but as we were level to the shopping mall where we had started from I glanced at the meter which was showing $7.64. All the evidence I needed to confirm that the guy in the white cab had absolutely been trying to rip us off massively.

Lesson learned for me, but one worth sharing, either use Uber/Grab where you know the exact price or ensure you get a taxi from the official taxi rank whom you know will be licensed and running a meter.

And if you are ever in Singapore and in need of a taxi – please ensure you never step foot in one which looks like a white London Cab ….

On a brighter note, we still had a fabulous visit to Gardens by the Bay!!!!

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