Facebook vigilante group shames appalling taxi drivers

A busy downtown taxi stand

A busy downtown taxi stand

When people talk about the taxi service in Macau, many will share stories of their being scammed by dodgy drivers. On Facebook, a group called “Macau Taxi Driver Shame”, created on June 30, has already attracted around 800 members, who have each shared their experiences on how they fell victim to the cheats and tricks of the taxi drivers in Macau.
Visiting the page, people can find pictures of taxis with their license plates or the drivers’ licenses clearly shown, as well as the stories that are associated with the vehicles.
Local resident Andrew Scott, one of the administrators of the group told the Times that what got the group started was a complaint.
“There was a post made by a local resident on a very popular community Facebook group in Macau. He simply complained about the fact that he couldn’t get a taxi one Saturday night,” he tells. “His wife was very pregnant and he was stuck after about an hour trying to get a taxi. So he just put a post up on this Facebook group, just ranting and just trying to tell his story. And it [received] such an overwhelming response.”
Andrew Scott, as one of the first people commenting on this post, saw a hundred more comments following his, all talking about the taxi issue in the city.
“And very quickly, [the resident that made the post] decided to start up his own Facebook group, which I then suggested to him to rename, “Macau Taxi Driver Shame” group.”
The group was able to attract 500 members in just two days after its creation. Andrew Scott argues that the rogue taxi service is an issue that affects everybody in Macau. And there is, he believes, a huge amount of community support for finding a solution to the problem.
Moreover, he thinks that if the Macau government wants the region to become an international tourist destination and diversify the city’s economy, it has to fix the “face of the city”.
“The face of your tourism industry is the taxi. When you arrive at the Border Gate, the ferry terminal or the airport, the very first thing you generally do is to get a taxi and get to your hotel. If the taxi drivers are going to lie and cheat and swindle customers, it is going to give Macau a very bad name.”
He believes that cleaning up the taxi industry will be a very practical measure for the government to present a good image of Macau to the rest of the world.
Although he noticed that the authorities have already taken actions to tackle dodgy drivers, Andrew Scott believes that the officials can only claim they have done their jobs when there are no more complaints surfacing.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If we stop getting complaints to that Facebook group it means that the government has done a good job. But if the complaints still keep coming in and people are still posting photos and videos to that group showing taxi drivers doing the wrong thing, then the government’s action hasn’t been effective.”
For residents and visitors who want to catch a taxi in Macau, Andrew Scott has offered some advice.
“As soon as a taxi driver pulls up and winds the window down to ask you something, [you should] open the door, sit in the taxi and close the door. Taxi drivers cannot refuse fares in Macau.”
If the passenger does not speak Chinese, Andrew Scott recommended them to have the Chinese address or name of their destination and show it to the driver.
“You should just sit in the taxi and not leave until he takes you there.”
He also reminded people to ask the taxi drivers to turn the meter on if they did not do so. Even if drivers refuse to turn on the meter, Mr Scott has given an example that shows a rather interesting solution to this scenario.
“One of our members in the group, who is actually a very respected person in the city in a senior role, said that what he did was ask the taxi driver to take him to the destination. If the driver doesn’t turn the meter on, when he gets there, he says ‘thank you very much’ and gets out of the taxi and leaves.
“When the taxi driver said ‘you haven’t paid me’, he said ‘the law requires me to pay the amount that’s on the meter. There’s nothing on the meter. Therefore, I am not going to pay.’”
Andrew Scott said that although he does not encourage people to try this tactic, it is, he thinks, an example of how frustrated people are done with the taxi situation in Macau.
As for his suggestion for the government, Mr Scott said there has to be a very strong regulatory authority and a well-publicized phone number for people to report any taxi scams.
He also thinks that a fine is not going to stop drivers from tricking their passengers. Rather, he thinks that it would be more effective if the penalty for scamming passengers would be a temporary loss of license.
“I hear the fine is around MOP1,000. But they can get that in one cheating fare. So, instead of fining them a financial amount, [the government] should fine them by getting them off the road… They cannot make any revenue from the taxi, and it will also make the investor unhappy about the driver.”
The taxi shaming group administrator said that they are waiting for more people to contribute to the group and tell their story before going to the relevant public department.
He also hopes that more Chinese speaking members can take part in the group and have some Chinese media report on the issue.
“Maybe when our membership gets up to 1,000 people or something, we can go to the responsible department in the government.”
He said that after notifying the government of the group and its stories, he will give the government some time to respond. If no appropriate response is given, Andrew Scott warned that they will go to the next level.


Categories Macau