I wanted to share this experience we had while we were on vacation in Hong kong.
DISCLAIMER: I am not in, any way, against Hong Kong. I love the city, love the place, I know people who love working there, I know and love some people living there and given the chance, I would like to come back again. I am just writing this in hopes that whoever reads this will be aware and not have this horrible experience happen to them. Hopefully, I won’t be in trouble for this post 🙂
Anyway, we arrived in Hong kong at 2 am so taking the Airport express or any bus were not in our options. My cousin who is working in Hongkong advised us to take a taxi instead.
Upon exiting Customs (we were still inside the airport), I was looking for the exit when a man approached us and asked if we needed a taxi and asked where we were going. Of course, we said yes and showed him the address of our hotel. He asked a young man (which I thought was also an employee of a taxi company– can you tell that things are done differently in my country? lol) because he said he can’t see clearly. After being told the name of the hotel, he then said to us, “Okay, I take you there”. Immediately, my mom told me to ask him how much. And I did. He then kept answering “Come, look at my car”. At this point we only a little suspicious since he seemed friendly and nice and there weren’t any taxi in sight.
While walking to where his “taxi” was parked, we were getting more suspicious as he was going in a direction only very few people were taking. Then we kept asking him how much, is it expensive, do you have a meter and he didn’t directly reply to our questions, although he said “Yes” when my mom asked him if he had a meter.We went up and we saw 2 red taxis in between a sort of “modern” mini van. I thought his was one of the taxis and to my surprise, it wasn’t. His car was the mini-van. He loaded our luggage and in the car we went. My mom kept saying “Maybe it’s expensive” he kept replying that it wasn’t. Still suspicious, we gave him the benefit of the doubt and off we went.
After a short moment, he handed us a laminated paper telling us we were availing the Kowloon service. There were 2 columns, written on the first one was Kowloon Service: 1580HKD and below was a list of what I can only guess as places in the area on the second column was another place and the price was at 1700+ HKD. I clarified with him if he was asking for 1580HKD? He said, “Yes, it’s very far”. I told him that it wasn’t far at all.
Then came the argument. My mom and I told him to stop and that we won’t pay that ridiculous amount. We told him that he should’ve told us before hand and that we should’ve taken the taxi instead. I told him that a taxi ride to our hotel from the airport is only about 200-250HKD. He kept arguing, shouting that the taxi will charge us 700HKD to our hotel.
We were adamant in calling him out on his lies. I told him the hotel is only charging 400HKD for their shuttle service. Why is he charging more than the hotel itself? He kept angrily reasoning out, that the toll fee was 280HKD and 1000HKD was the last price he could give us. Then we told him he can drop us then and there but he kept insisting we pay him for the ride to there. Keep in mind that we were less than 1 kilometer from the airport. He demanded that we pay him 500HKD to take us back to the airport. I told him THAT’S RIDICULOUS THE DISTANCE IS SO SHORT I CAN EVEN WALK THERE. He then settled for 400HKD to take us back to the airport. My mom, very irritated, told him to do so.
I kept saying how I’ll go to information and ask if this is allowed. He got calmer after hearing that, he probably got scared I’ll report him. He told us we can take the bus we answered he could drop us anywhere but more preferably near the information booth.
Finally, he dropped us near the bus stop where I learned that there are actually night buses. My mom told me (in our dialect) to give him only 200HKD which I did. He got angry again and of course, I also got angry. He yelled how it was inconvenient for him and I shot back saying it was more inconvenient for us and he wasted our time and money. Eventually, he said “Okay, 100 more”. I was about to argue when my mom told me to just give him the money.
I told my mom to check his license plate after she gets out (I was going to unload the baggage myself) as there was no driver’s license present nor plate number written inside the car. After putting our luggage down he quickly went away and we weren’t able to see his license plate at all (both of us have very bad eyesight and it was dark).
End of story: We ended up paying 202HKD for a less than 30 minute taxi ride to our hotel.
Moral of the story: Look for the official taxi stand. Follow the signs or ask anyone, don’t mind any one approaching you on the airport to offer their “taxi service”. There are a lot of taxis queuing even at wee hours in the morning and some “attendants” will give you a paper with some information about the taxi ride. Keep that paper and ensure that the meter is on.
Here are some useful numbers:
- Emergency services (police, fire, ambulance) 999
- Police Hotline +852 2527 7177
- Hong Kong International Airport +852 2181 8888
Maybe you are curious why we didn’t report him. We were tourists and we didn’t want any trouble. We were thinking he might be able to get our names and that he might be able to fabricate a wrongdoing to implicate us with. Fortunately, we lost only 300HKD, it’s not worth the hassle of being stopped at immigration or being detained in another country.
Bonus: We chanced upon him again INSIDE the airport. He told me, “Only 500, tell your mom I take you”. I flat out said “NO.” and kept walking.