Thursday, 16 July 2009

Daylight robbery

After reading @pinkpau's blog entry on her experience with a cab driver in KL, it reminded me of that time when I was ripped off by one. It's not that I meet nasty service providers all the time, I also do meet good and kind ones too, but those are few and far between. Anyway, we always remember the bad experiences rather than the good ones, right?
I have been to Kuala Lumpur numerous times for work and holiday (being our nearest and easily-accessible neighbour) as it is considered a cheaper alternative to Singapore in terms of shopping and makan (eating). Although most of KL are as modern and developed as Singapore, some other areas remain reminiscent of Singapore in the 1980s which gives me a warm feeling every time I visit, especially the rundown shophouses where some traditional coffeeshops still serve fantastic food.
Most of the time, I stay in hotels around the Jalan Bukit Bintang area, being the most convenient shopping hub, so I can walk and shop and eat around Times Square, Low Yat Plaza, Sungei Wang, Lot 10 etc. And usually I like to go a little further to the Central Market, Chinatown, Midvalley, Pavilion or KLCC.

On one occasion, I took a normal metered cab from Jalan Bukit Bintang to Midvalley. There was not really any traffic jam, and it took about 15 minutes, costing around RM14. So for the next 2-3 hours I shopped in Midvalley
. In the afternoon when I was ready to get back to the hotel, I flagged the cab that was the first on the taxi queue. It was a new cab and more comfy one compared to the usual red and white taxis. I just checked to make sure it was chargeable by meter. It was. Immediately when I got on the cab, the driver said his cab was a premier cab and would cost slightly more than the usual cab. I thought, ok fine, since it would be running on meter, how MUCH more could it be, anyway? I was so wrong. As each second passed, I noticed the meter was flickering unusually fast. As I monitored closely, every other second, it was 10 cents, and the fare showed on the meter kept jumping and jumping. I asked the cab driver how come the meter was moving so much faster compared to the other cab earlier. He said "It's like that." Damn. I knew it had to be rigged, the meter. Considering it was a weekday and not really that much traffic jam, we got back to the hotel in about 15-20 minutes, but the final cab fare turned out to be RM45 !!!!! I was quite mad but I could not do anything but pay up. I wonder how many of the locals could afford or be willing to pay at such rates, and did anybody complain to the authorities or the cab companies at all?? Or was I the only stupid tourist taken for a ride, literally? For RM45, it was around Singapore $20+. And for S$20+ in Singapore, I could have taken a cab from the east all the way to the west of Singapore!! It was daylight robbery that KL cab driver!
Another time I was having dinner in KL Chinatown and at about 9pm+ decided to head back hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang, as there was nothing much to shop in Chinatown apart from the pasar malam which I was not interested in. Chinatown was only 5 minutes away from my hotel. I had earlier walked from Jalan Bukit Bintang to Chinatown. If I had taken a cab, it usually would cost around RM5. But many cab drivers waiting around Chinatown refused to run by meter and quoted at least RM15 or RM20 (and even RM30!) for that 5-minute ride. After numerous offers, I finally met a nice old taxi driver who said he would charge by meter. As there was a little traffic jam, the fare was around RM7. I gave the uncle RM10 and told him to keep the change. It was hard/rare to find a honest cab driver like him.
Now I am having hunger pangs whenever I think of the fantastic BBQ chicken wings I had in Jalan Alor and the other delicious food. Maybe it's time to visit KL again? If only I can get a Singaporean driver to go.... (Singaporean drivers with (especially) posh high-end cars are also afraid they might get robbed along the roads in Malaysia too..).


  1. You were ripped of as a Singaporean. How bout me as an mat salleh when I took a cab from KL airport to Pudu and payed 120rm? At that time I was thinking the price is same as Europe, so I was ok, whatever. But my gf was so shocked and after staying in Malaysia for few months, I wouldn't pay that much ever! It's like 30rm bus from KL to Penang! Crazy crazy :)

  2. So there are many victims besides me. I wonder if the Malaysian authorities are doing anything about it. RM120!@!$$$$!!^%$^$ is crazy!!!!


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