Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rip-off ridin'

Just a quick entry to warn others about the taxi experience we had in Bratislava, Slovakia, in the hope that others will be saved our financial pain..

We arrived at the train station in Bratislava, having just come from Vienna.

Our arrival point was Bratislava hlavná stanica but I'm sure the story is the same where ever you arrive, including the airport.

In most countries, if you catch a cab from the street or station, they trigger the flagfall, then a reasonable per-kilometre rate after that. If you call a cab to pick you up, there's usually a surcharge.

In Bratislava (and possibly all of Slovakia), it's cheaper to call the taxi to come and get you! You get a cheaper rate and are less likely to end up in a 'private taxi', where they do nasty things like setting a minimum charge of a high amount.

In our case, we didn't know this, and we saw a nice black cab with rates on a sign on the side.
We saw that there was 2.50 Euro flagfall (presumably, the text was in Slovakian) with some rates which seemed reasonable. We were there in the middle of the day, so assumed we'd be on the cheapest rate...

So what really happened?

We got in, and the flagfall might have been 2.50, but the meter quickly spun up as we went - the meter was also in an awkward position, being in the space under/near the handbrake, so the angle caught a lot of glare, making it very hard to monitor.

Our trip from the railway station to the hotel was a little more than 5 minutes, but certainly under 10, and the meter tried to beat some sort of acceleration record.. by the time we arrived, we'd managed to clock up 18 Euro!!

This was a private cab!
Like this one, ours was a black taxi.. (this was not our taxi)

In the slightly fine print on the rate card, again in Slovakian only, there was a 'minimum charge 15 Euro' clause, and apparently text that lets the hailed-off-the-street cab charge the highest per-km rate!
The rate card - what does it say? We have no idea..

We realised we'd been taken for a ride, figuratively and literally, but it was our own fault for not checking online (like you might be doing now, dear reader) before we arrived.

In summary, avoid cabs in Slovakia. If you must take one, call a reputable company, don't ever hire on the street or at the station/airport. Ever!

The public transport (tram) we caught for the rest of the visit, and back to the station (bus) was cheap and ok. Some fellow passengers need to learn about washing and deodorant, but for the princely sum of 0.90 Euro per ticket (valid one hour*, so you can make more than one trip per ticket), it's a price we can pay..

[* - And for short trips, 0.70 Euro for 15 minutes' validity might be enough, and saves you another 0.20 Euro! ]

So, plan your trip via public transport, when you can!

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