World

Taken for a ride - just because you're a tourist

Going on an overseas holiday?

Be on your guard, as unscrupulous people may leave you a lot poorer.

A 22-year-old Swiss tourist known only as Adrian found out the hard way on Sunday (Oct 4). A cabby illegally charged him HK$8,000 (about S$1,470) for a ride from Hong Kong International Airport to a hotel in Hung Hom.

The fare was about 30 times the usual amount for the journey, a police source said.

A typical fare for the 30km trip, which takes less than half an hour, is about HK$250 to HK$300.

Previously, unscrupulous taxi drivers illegally charged between HK$1,000 and HK$2,000 for similar journeys, the source told South China Morning Post.

The person, who has more than 20 years' experience in the force, added: 

"It is the first time I have come across a trip from the airport to Kowloon getting charged HK$8,000. It could be a record."

The tourist became suspicious after entering the hotel and alerted staff there, who helped call the police.

While he did not pursue the case as he had forgotten the taxi's registration number and would be leaving Hong Kong soon, another police source said:

"This type of misconduct could affect Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist destination. The traffic unit will follow up the case."

Here are three infamous cases of overcharging involving Singaporeans.

Vietnamese tourist billed $2,450 for iPhone 6 with warranty

Mr Pham Van Thoai was in tears after he was refused a refund on his iPhone 6 purchase at Mobile Air shop in Sim Lim Square. PHOTO: STOMP

Vietnamese factory worker Pham Van Thoai, who earns about $200 a month, wanted to buy the phone as a birthday present for his girlfriend.

The couple at first asked to pay $950 for an iPhone 6 at the now-defunct Mobile Air shop in Sim Lim Square.

But he failed to closely scrutinise the documents he was asked to sign and a salesman told him that he couldn't take out the phone unless he paid an extra $1,500 for the warranty.

Not knowing what to do, Mr Thoai knelt down and tearfully begged for his money back as the sales staff just laughed at him.

A video clip of him in tears went viral, and the Consumers Association of Singapore intervened, leading to him receiving a partial refund of $400. 

Singaporeans raised money for him but Mr Thoai refused to accept all of it, telling Lianhe Zaobao:

"I lost $550. So I will accept only $550 from the donations of kind people. Nothing more.

"I'm grateful for your kindness, but I do not want to take more than what I've lost."

Pricey prawns cost diners $239

Tourists (from left) Sal Rubio, Dewi Rigby and husband Michael Rigby claim they were fleeced. PHOTO: ST FILE

A Newton hawker stall that overcharged a group of American tourists in 2009 was suspended for three months.

The stall assistant from Tanglin Best BBQ Seafood, who had overcharged the visitors, was also barred from working there for a year.

The group of six was billed almost $500 for three seafood dishes which included tiger prawns, four crabs, baby squid, a bun, half a steamed chicken, five bottles of beer and drinks.

The main point of contention was the price of the eight tiger prawns, which was listed on the stall’s signboard as $8 for every 100g.

At $239 for eight prawns, each one would have weighed an average of 375g — something the tourists insisted could not be the case.

They complained to the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Environment Agency took up the case.

$10 cab ride but S'pore delegates told it's $360

Peak hour traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: ST FILE

Hanoi police arrested a taxi driver who allegedly tried to charge two Interpol delegates from Singapore almost 40 times their fare in 2011.

The man tried to make the Singaporeans pay $360 for a 10km ride which should have cost only about $10, according to Vietnamese news website Tuoi Tre News.

An argument broke out between him and the two passengers, which led to one of them leaving an iPhone 4 in the cab. It was not recovered.

The taxi driver then fled to the southern province of Dak Nong, about 1,000km from Hanoi, to evade arrest.

The Singaporean man and woman were in the Vietnamese capital for the 80th Interpol General Assembly when the incident occurred on Oct 28.

They had taken the taxi back to Hanoi’s National Conference Centre after dinner at a restaurant.

The driver was taken to Hanoi for investigation while the Hanoi Transportation Association investigated the  Phu Gia​ taxi company that he was registered with.

Public transport officials in Vietnam told the media there has been a rise in the number of cases involving cabbies, especially unlicensed ones, overcharging foreigners.

Sources: South China Morning Post, The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao

Uncategorisedtaxihong kongSingaporeApple (company)food