Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taxi's in Sweden: The Perfect Crime

Generally thought of as one of the least dishonest professions in the world, Taxi's have always bugged me.  Its fairly rare that i find a taxi driver that is not out to squeeze ever last öre out of your wallet and this is exceptionally true here in Stockholm. 

There are several taxi companies in the market and every so often the newspaper does a story on which is the cheapest taxi company out there with a few driving tests just to make the population feel better about how much they are getting screwed.

I have found that there are few if any 'Swedish' taxi drivers left out there, most of the drivers are immigrants to Sweden and couldn't care less about getting you to your destination on time or saving you any money.

For example: its normal here in Sweden to have a 'framkörs avgif't which basically is an extra cost on them having to come out to pick you up if your not living a hair away from the central station.  There is also 'vänta tids avgift' which replaces the framkörs avigft with one where the second that they start waiting outside of your door for you they start billing you.  This particular fee averages out to about 1 euro per minute, so about 60 euros per hour.  Even doctors don't make that kinda dough, figuring in that the 'time' of these members of society is worth about 10 euros per hour (a typical MacDonald's job) this fee is grossly unreasonable. 

Then comes the actual drive where the majority of the cost adds up.  This varies greatly with some dishonest taxis that peg the meter to the number of seconds in a minute meaning that the meter counts 60 SEK / 6 Euros no matter how far or fast your driving.  Your generally safer with Taxi Stockholm or Taxi 020 or Sverige Taxi but you can have bad experiences with these guys as well depending on who is behind the wheel.

The majority of people use taxis over the weekend when they are out partying with their friends to either get to or from the party.  And this is normally after a pre-party at home and here is where Taxi drivers take advantage of Swedes general nature not to cause conflict.  They will drive around in circles and take the most indirect route possible to a location just to run up the meter and when questioned will claim ignorance and state they have been driving for years yadda yadda yadda......

Not only that but with all the inebriated scantily clad swedish girls that are on their way home from the nightclub, its not entirely uncommon for sexual assaults by Taxi drivers which unfortunately happened to a friend of mine a year ago.  Its become such a culture of mistrust that the guards at nightclubs will even take down the liscense plate information about a taxi they put a girl in to ensure that nothing happens to her on her way home (which is how that particular taxi driver was caught and charged).

This culture of overpriced taxis have opened up an underground taxi industry which is unfortunately hundreds of times more dangerous then licensed taxi drivers.  It will always be non-swedish immigrants standing outside the closest food joint (McDonalds, etc) whispering out taxi, taxi.... hoping to get a bite and once you are in one of these 'Svart Taxi's' (quite literally black taxi's), who knows what will happen to you.  I have had a friend that was robbed at knifepoint for his bank card and pin number, i have had other friends sexually abused, the list goes on and on.

Tips and Tricks with Taxis in Stockholm (and Sweden for that matter):
  • Speak swedish to the driver if possible, english speakers normally get a 'special rate' or route.
  • Travel only with the above mentioned taxi companies (be careful, a lot of companies try to trick you with logos, names or cab coloring to make their vehicles look like one of the above companies
  • Travel in small groups is possible, dont travel alone
  • Know the route you want to take and the fastest way to get there before getting into a cab, google maps works great for this and with the advent of the smart phone you can access this information anywhere
  • ALWAYS use the meter, some will try to convince you to use a 'fast pris' or fixed price rate
And if your open to it, USE THE DAMN PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM!  It runs 24 hours during the weekend and its quite fast and costs you next to nothing if you compare it with taxis!

The word of the day is 'Fuskar' which means cheat in Swedish

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