TLDR: use apps like uber to prevent taxi scams where they use turbo meter.

The story

We arrived in Vilnius via bus. We were thinking whether to get to your hotel via Uber but we decided to support the local taxi company so we took the taxi that was conveniently waiting at the bus bay, not even at the taxi stand.1

I did a quick check to see how much an Uber would cost and it seemed like the going rate was 1 EUR/km. Our hotel was about 1.7km away, which meant about 3 EUR. Being unsuspecting tourists, we boarded the taxi without asking for a fixed price, thinking the meter would record it fairly. About half way through, I peeked over the front seat and to my horror, the meter displayed 10 EUR.

I thought to myself, “OMG, we have fallen victim to a taxi scam”. I have not prepared for this. Sitting back now to recollect my thoughts, I could still see the meter jumped from the reflections of the front door mirror. Out of curiosity, I observed how the meter jumped, and tried to figure out how it worked. It was insane. The meter would sometimes jump by 3 cents non-stop for a period of time and at other times it didn’t increase at all.

I told my partner in mandarin: “we’ve been scammed”.

We both had mixed feelings internally. We didn’t want to be extorted, but we were also afraid he might drive us somewhere else and hurt us if we said anything. The language barrier also meant that it would be hard to communicate. We decided that we should just pay up and avoid any trouble2.

After we alighted, I immediately searched for where I could lodge a complaint, and sent them an email with the photo of the licence plate. Nevertheless, I have very little hope that anything would be done.

This was a rather expensive way of learning and going through a the turbo meter scam. This has definitely made me sway towards using apps like Uber instead of supporting the local drivers.

  1. That should have been a red flag. ↩︎

  2. We should have asked for a receipt and perhaps confronted him about it when we reached our hotel. ↩︎