Taxi scam

Shanghai-taxi-scamThe streets of Shanghai are swarmed with taxis, but some of them are illegal taxis. These are just private persons with an old car who may have stolen the taxi sign and meter from an official taxi and are hunting for foreigners and people from out of town to swindle. Some reports claim there may be as much as 5.000 unlicensed taxis in Shanghai, or 10% of the total. Always check if the driver displays his ID and taxi license visibly on the dashboard to make sure you’re taking an official taxi, although that’s not a guarantee they won’t try to rip you off.

Many taxi drivers in Shanghai don’t speak or understand English, which makes it difficult to communicate on vital information like your destination and the fare (although they should always use their meter). A select group of taxi drivers does speak English and they monetize their skills by ripping off unsuspecting tourists arriving in town with the maglev high-speed train. Especially at Longyang Road station, they attempt to lure tourists fresh off the train into their taxi, before the tourists realize how low regular taxi fares are in this city. These taxi drivers then try to negotiate a fixed price with the customer beforehand. This price is usually a little less than what a similar fare in Europe or North-America would cost, so it sounds reasonable to the tourist. However, this means the fare will be 4 to 5 times as high as a regular metered ride in a Shanghai-taxi-fraudShanghai taxi would cost. And they can be extremely pervasive in trying to convince the tourists to accept a fixed price instead of a metered ride, “because with meter it would be more expensive”. These guys have taken “not taking no for an answer” to the next level.

In another version of this scam, there’s a receipt hanging in front of the taxi meter, blocking the customer’s view of the meter, so the driver is able to slyly add additional charges to the meter before clocking out at the end of the ride, overcharging the unsuspecting tourist.

When arriving in Shanghai at the airport or at the train station, demand that the taxi driver uses his meter, he is likely to refuse at first and try to convince you a metered fare will be more expensive, but it never will be, so be assertive. If they keep refusing, just get out and take the next taxi.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Shanghai and China Tourist Scams Forum.

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