Crabby Cabbie

My first experience in Beijing hasn't been the best.

I had been warned by a friend who lives here that there are legal and illegal cabs crowding the airport. I took great care in lining up at the official taxi line-up, and they pointed me to a black one waiting, where the driver quickly loaded our luggage into the trunk and ushered us in.

The first mistake: he said he didn't know where the hotel was.
Second: there was no meter in the car.
Third: he asked me to call the hotel on my roaming mobile phone.
Fourth: he couldn't even give us a price.
Fifth: he wouldn't stop the cab so we could get out.

Eventually, we figured out the chinese name of TianLun Dynasty Hotel and after much insistent (rude) prodding, he finally quoted me 300 RMB (about $35 USD) for the ride. (For reference, it shouldn't cost more than 80 RMB.) I argued with him but dropped it after much frustration, and instead I asked him for a receipt.
Sixth: he asked me for a pen to write it with.
Seventh: he scribbled "200.00 RMB" on the back of a highway toll receipt and told me that was it.

We got to the hotel and had my colleague quickly get our luggage out of the trunk. Remembering my friend's advice, I brought up the cab price with the hotel doorman immediately upon exiting the car before paying. She inspected his car, peered in, and asked him how much. He told her 90RMB. Satisfied (but not content), I paid the 90RMB and waved him away.

After all that, the hotel is gorgeous, and the room is very comfortable. Now onto the Peking Duck somewhere, but so far, I'm not at all impressed with the foggy, smoggy, dark and corrupted mess that seems to be Beijing.


Nk said...

Yikes, I guess you didn't read Cy's post, huh....

Ben said...

No, I didn't read that. Damn, wish I had.

I mean, 300RMB is still kind of acceptable by business cost standards, and for two people as well. But it was the principle that I was arguing. I didn't want to believe that I could be so careless and naive as to have fallen for this trick! I mean, I felt like I was being careful, and was on the lookout for tricksters! And it still happened.

But anyway, it extends past cabbies. After a delicious Peking Duck dinner at Qian Ju De, I was feeling better about the whole thing; after all, I had reduced the damage to a little over the normal rate, so that was okay. But as we were walking back to the hotel, we happened across some small stores selling various warez. And it's amazing how high they will start their bidding at, before dropping dramatically to nearly nothing. And we still didn't buy.


Cyrus said...

yeah damn them crabby chinese cabbies. sadly, i still think i got screwed the worst. I didn't even get a hotel doorman to help me out, cuz the driver was smart enough to not even drop me off in front of the lobby. My friend told me the highest he'd ever heard someone being charged was 400RMB... hah..i say peanuts.

Cyrus said...

in general, stay with the yellow and green cabs. I had no choice to take a "red" cab on the way back from Summer Palace. He charged me a reasonable fare, but when i asked for a receipt, he gave me an old one from a month ago.