I would not say that that this way of transportation is bad in China. The taxi companies have a very good system and always a sufficient amount of cars in China. Normally you can get a cab almost everywhere in the city. Unless it is the start or the end of the working day – usually in this time things get very difficult. However there are still some chances. But that’s not what we are going to discuss in this article. What I want to pay attention to is a notorious human factor that is often the reason why system fails from time to time.
As far as I know in London to become a cabman you need to know dozens of thousand of streets, routes and sights. So if you’re a newbie and come from London you probably think that Chinese drivers should be able to do the same… Of course they do…
Wouldn’t count much on that, if I were you. You may find a good driver who will know the city well and will be able to choose the best route but that doesn’t always happen. The truth is the training of Chinese drivers reminds more of a birds when they are being taught to fly, companies simply kick them out on the streets and force them to drive. Good thing if they know the city and route or able to use GPS-navigation, bad if they can’t – that’s where the problems start.
Normally if you are in the city centre most of the drivers behave, because they know that in city centre the transportation system is developed and client can prefer other ways to taxi: bus or subway. The situation is different on the outskirts – the new areas where the transportation is barely fixed, however there are only buses that are in very limited number and subway station are expected to be built in a few years. That’s where taxi drivers use their advantages at the full scope and may do whatever they want. Especially when it rains or during rush hours, or both at the same time. For example recently I had an unpleasant situation with taxi driver, when I needed to get from my office to railway station. The driver didn’t switch on the taximeter. And when we arrived to the place he tried to double the actual price. Fortunately, I knew the actual price and as it wasn’t my first year in China, so I pretty much learned all their tricks to get paid more than they deserve. So I simply transferred the actual price by wechat to the driver, of course, he wasn’t happy about that. I know a lot of similar stories from friends, for example some of our brave readers would switch the taximeters on their own if drivers did not want to do that. And also different stories. For example, some of my friends told me how drivers changed the routes when they happened to fall asleep in the cab and as result the amount they had to pay in the end was pretty much higher than the one they expected, but luckily they found a way to deal with that too. Some taxi drivers will try to use every little thing to get you pay more than you should. You always need to stay on alert, always.
It’s not that I’m trying to justify their behavior, but there is a little psychological moment here, or not a psychological more like the way of their thinking. We all know that China is extremely overpopulated; therefore the level of competition here is very high. That’s why many people use all measures, not because it is dishonest, but because as Rick from The Walking Dead says：“This is how we survive”. Don’t blame it all on them, but at the same time – stay on alert and don’t let them fool you.
So how can we avoid becoming the victim of such drivers? Here are some tips.
First of all, know the exact location of the place where you’re going and have the detailed address of it in Chinese. Some of the restaurants and bars have cards with detailed address and even small piece of map with location of the place on it which is very useful. Why it is useful to have detailed Chinese address saved in the notes on your phone? Because you can easily copy it to the map and show the location on the map, which will help driver to understand where the place is. And of course the chances to find an English-speaking driver are close to 0.
Secondly, know the exact or at least approximate price for the route, it is very important. It will be useful if driver will change the route or will not switch on the taximeter as it happened in my case. You can ask your friends for the price, or use the application Didi Taxi to calculate the price. Do not pay more if the difference is too big. By the way Didi Taxi is a very good alternative to ordinary taxi, however you need to have a good command of Chinese language because you need to explain the driver by the phone where you are, so that he could pick you up.
Also avoid the situations when the driver doesn’t switch on the taximeter, you can try and switch it on your own or just tell the driver to stop the car and get out. There is a big chance that he will try to raise the amount you are supposed to pay.
Do not fall asleep in the cab, because they might change the route while you are sleeping or get you to absolutely different place from what you told them and will expect you to pay the whole amount. Always stay on alert.
If the unpleasant situation already happened, for example he changed the route or doubled the price or something else – better tell him to drive to the nearest police station, there is a chance that he will not want to do that and will accept your price because he would not want to have problems with police, in case he won’t, the police will help you.
These are the main moments, if you have some better stories and advices – you can share them in commentaries. Safe trip to you all! ☺