Monday, May 21, 2007

Bad Taxi Driver

Of course, Penang isn’t the only place where the “taxi driver” may be anything but. The other day, I was even surprised by a “taxi driver” in Singapore.

First, he had no idea where I was going. I was heading home, something I’ve done via taxi plenty of times without any complications. While we don’t live on a major street, the area is well known to many taxi drivers. But my driver had no clue where to go. He didn’t even know how to get to the expressway, two blocks from where he picked me up. I had to give him turn by turn directions until we finally arrived at my door.

I said, “I’d like to pay by NETS” (a debit card).

“No can,” said the driver, ignoring the enormous sign that said “NETS accepted.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Don’t know how...system.”

I tried another tack: “Okay, I have cash.”

“Total $18.50.”

“Here’s a $50 bill.”

“No can,” he said again.

“You don’t have enough to make change?” I asked, surprised. $50 bills are commonly used for amounts like these, as Singapore doesn’t have $20 bills (or at least, I’ve never seen one).

He shrugged his shoulders.

“Well,” I said, “your sign says I can also use a credit card, right?”

He thought about this. “Don’t know how...” And he gestured that I was welcome to try to use the system myself, if I knew how.

I tried to think of alternatives. “Do you even have $30 for change?”

“Sorry, lah...no can.”

At this point I’d spent more time trying to pay for the fare than it took me to get home. NETS and credit cards have almost always been accepted by taxis if they are marked. I’ve paid for scores of taxi rides by cash and have never encountered any problems. How is it that this guy had no idea how to get around, no change, and no idea how to process payments? All this despite driving a taxi that is part of the largest taxi fleet in Singapore – clearly, he was covering for someone else.

Not knowing what else to do, I gave up and had to call upon my loving wife to rescue me. “Jenn? Could you come outside? With your wallet? ... Oh. No, really, I’m not being robbed.”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHAT $18.50 for a Singapore taxi??? did you do an island tour?????

Joey said...

Let's just say that with peak hour surcharges, heavy traffic, and the usual distance of my commute, I don't get anywhere for under $12SGD!

ozlady said...

There are some real characters in the cabs! LOL.