Beware of taxi drivers in Russia

Oct 11th, 2017, 03:59 PM
  #1  
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Beware of taxi drivers in Russia

Today I was victim of a taxi robbery. It was pouring rain and I flagged down a taxi from the Hermitage to my hotel the Belmond Europa, which is no more than 2 miles away and I was charged the astronomical amount of 130 Euros for the ride. I had made the same ride in the morning to the museum and was charged 10 Euros. The driver locked the doors and and the windows and I was unable to get down from the taxi or yell to the hotel doorman about the robbery. When I told him I didn´t have enough cash in rubles he said he would take a credit card. I thought about my credit card in the hands of this crook. He then said he would accept euros at a most stupid rate of exchange. This was all so very bizarre. I was trapped with no way out but to pay whatever the guy wanted. Finally I was able to find another 1000 rubles and was left out of the car. Beware, do not flag down a taxi in Russia. If you do, be sure to set up the rate before the trip. I had been adivsed about taxi drivers in Moscow, but I didn´t think the problem existed also in Saint Petersburg!!!
bea_001 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 06:19 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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I'm sorry this happened to you, but I'm confused: Why didn't you claim you needed to get money from your room or otherwise convince him to get out? How much did you actually pay? I'm not questioning your actions -- just trying to understand.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 06:42 PM
  #3  
 
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Could've fooled me. You're judging the OP for failing to fend off an aggressive robber who locked her in?

I thought I'd seen it all, but Fodor's Forums continue their race to the bottom of the barrel.
NewbE is offline  
Oct 11th, 2017, 06:50 PM
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"If you do, be sure to set up the rate before the trip. I had been adivsed about taxi drivers in Moscow, but I didn´t think the problem existed also in Saint Petersburg!!! "

The exact same problem exists in a lot of countries, not just Russia. If you are taking a ride in taxi that has no meter, or refuses to use the meter, you should be very clear about the price before getting in. Even if there is a meter, you need to check that it is on the right setting.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 07:05 PM
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"An aggressive robber"

How do you know that? For all we know, all the OP had to do was stall until the doorman came over to assist?


I mean, if she had played dumb and said she had not enough euros or rubles or a credit card, what was the driver going to do? There's no indication the guy threatened her. She calls it a robbery but that is as far I can tell hyperbole. Thursday is right, happens in a lot of other places.
marvelousmouse is online now  
Oct 11th, 2017, 07:20 PM
  #6  
kja
 
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@ NewbE: Sigh. No, as a woman who often travels solo, I just want to better understand the circumstances. It must be difficult to live in a world where so many statements seem hostile.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 07:55 PM
  #7  
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Hi everyone, I come from Colombia, South America which is a country where you find crime around the corner, so I am not an innocent traveler.I often travel solo and i follow closely both kja´s and thursdays´s travel reports. Yes, last night I couldn´t sleep thinking about the what ifs. After arguing for a while with the guy I knew he wasnt going to let me get off and for a moment I was afraid he would take me somewhere else. I´m not justifying myself, besides I´m being my worse critic, perhaps I could have reacted with more cold blood, but the case is I didn´t and I got Euros 130 stolen from me. So anyhow, DO NOt flag down a taxi in Russia.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 08:01 PM
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Happens to everyone at least once, bea! Don't beat yourself up over it. Sometimes it's better to just fork over the money and let it go.

Did you get some sort of ID number that you could have used to report him? Asked the hotel how to go about doing so?
marvelousmouse is online now  
Oct 11th, 2017, 08:17 PM
  #9  
kja
 
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I wholeheartedly agree with marvelousmouse -- please don't beat yourself up over this incident! I've definitely make costly mistakes, and I'm sure most of us have. The best news is that you are safe -- that's what REALLY matters.

It was good of you to share your experience as a warning to the rest of us.

I second thursdaysd's advice about metering and negotiating (even while admitting that it is easy to forget). And while honored to be mentioned in the same sentence, I'll add that I'm not in thursdaysd's league -- I only aspire to be as well traveled and as knowledgeable as she is!

I sincerely hope that you are able to shake this awful interlude off and finish your trip without further difficulty. St. Petersburg offers so many delightful corners!
Be safe, bea, and know that you have the support of your fellow Fodorites.
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Oct 11th, 2017, 10:40 PM
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I live in St. Petersburg, and that's what I want to say ...
There are many taxis in the city. All taxis have identification branding. The largest taxis in St.Petersburg - Uber, Gett, Yandex, Taxovickoff. If you use the services of these taxis - there is nothing to worry about. All these taxis are ordered in the same way as Uber - all have applications.
I admit that the situation described by the topic starter might have happened, but most likely it was just some kind of thug who does not even work in a taxi. None of the taxi drivers will rob this way tourists right in the heart of the city!
Dear tourists, coming to the city! For short distances, use Uber!!! Just download application. And no problem with understanding the language, cheating with money, robbery. Use Uber for getting from airports, or order transfer for example here https://transferdesk.ru/en/. In many cities of Russia, Uber is available, especially in tourist destinations.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 03:34 AM
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Sorry to hear this. It must have been awful.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 03:40 AM
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Yes, please don't beat yourself up. I was once pickpocketed (Rome) and I remember how awful it felt.

I have had run-ins with rickshaw and taxi drivers on occasion. I once realized that a taxi driver in Hanoi had "fixed" his meter so it was running too fast, and that he was going the long way round. I insisted he stop, but when I got out he nearly hit me. He threatened me with the police when I refused to pay him, but when I said "great, call them" he gave up. However, it has been unusual for me to take a taxi, and with smart phones the public transport systems are easier than ever.

Too modest, kja, you are a stand-out traveler.

@Alex - I am boycotting Uber.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 03:54 AM
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@thursdaysd - if you are boycotting Uber, use Gett - similar application.

And I still forgot to warn everyone!

In the city you can see a taxi, which on the doors has the inscription "FREE TAXI" and in Russian "ТАКСИ СВОБОДНО". Do not believe! It's not free! This is a fraud, the driver pretends that he does not know English well and thinks that this is the same - FREE and VACATION. Many people got caught up in this.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 10:46 AM
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I don't see how negotiating a rat in advance would prevent the OP's problem. Ten to get in, but 1000 to get out or the doors stay locked.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 10:50 AM
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That's when you reach for your phone and say you're calling the police. Or you could try waiting him out - after all his time is money.
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Oct 12th, 2017, 01:23 PM
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I agree with you, bea. We were in SP this summer and the taxi situation was crazy. The advice to "use a meter" or "make sure it's set correctly" is useless. All of our drivers used meters and they all overcharged about 10 fold, based on distance. We too got caught in a big storm and hailed a taxi on the street. Fortunately we were charged only the equivalent of $10. That seemed to be the standard foreigner rip off rate, regardless of distance. I've never been so frustrated with taxis as in SP.
Marija is online now  
Oct 12th, 2017, 02:36 PM
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The waiting him out thing is usually what has worked for me in the past. They lose money arguing with you. They don't like losing money, and most taxi drivers that are out scamming are looking for the easy marks.

In this case, easy enough to pretend the money is in the hotel and then he's forced to let you out. They make no money if they drive off with you, delay their next fare, and risk getting into legal trouble. (Not criticizing Bea at all. I'll pay an unfair fare to stay safe, and I think she did the right thing, given that he wasn't backing down. He may have been actually willing to hurt her; she was on the spot and had to make the best call for the situation).
marvelousmouse is online now  
Oct 12th, 2017, 02:52 PM
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Pretty scary bea, sorry that happened to you.

Beware, do not flag down a taxi in Russia. If you do, be sure to set up the rate before the trip


Good advice, anywhere you go. Even with a metre, some places can be a bit dodgy so the advice to get a price or at least an estimate can be very helpful.

We always had pretty good luck with cabs in Russia (Moscow), but you never know. I think my worst taxi ripoff was in Dublin going to an outlying town. Family there were furious for us when they heard, but the cab driver would have never tried that on locals like themselves.
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Oct 13th, 2017, 12:13 AM
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"reach for your phone and say you're calling the police". I do not think it's a good idea. He knows that they will not talk to you in the police, because unfortunately the police do not speak English.

I recommend telling him that the money is in the hotel and he can wait or go up with you. And then immediately go to the reception. They will help their guests. Or open the doors in the car and start screaming. Someone from passers-by will help. And the taxi driver will be frightened.
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Oct 13th, 2017, 02:32 AM
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You think he'd risk that? I don't think most taxi drivers would want any chance of trouble, or be confident in counting on the fact you wouldn't get ahold of a policeman who spoke at least rudimentary English.

Apparently the issue is that there are plenty of illegal cabs in Russia, and they can be dangerous. So rule of thumb is to not hail one on the street. Good to know. You're not making me want to hail Uber, Alex. I don't think any kind of unofficial taxi sounds safe.

I'm not sure I'm all that inclined to visit Russia with the articles about criminals driving taxi cabs and corrupt police...but it does sound like they're attempting to work on their image a bit, and that's something at least-

http://www.espnfc.com/fifa-confedera...-on-his-ordeal
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