Is there a difference if the services of a transport agency, such as taxis or Uber or Liftago, are requested by a foreigner or by a Czech? A test carried out by iDNES.cz has shown that there is a big one. It has revealed a problem by four of five drivers. One of them even wanted twice as much for a kilometer as is currently allowed by the magistrate. He also didn’t pay much attention to the driving itself.
A few weeks ago, we tested how different transport services serve Czech customers in Prague (the results can be found in this article). Many readers suggested that we should do the same test, but with foreigners and that we could expect different results.
“It would be even better to try this with a foreigner, who speaks a different language. The more exotic, the better. What could the prices for an airport be,” said one of the readers.
And that is exactly what we did and we repeated the test with a couple from Paraguay – Alejandro and Alexandra, who are taking part in the Erasmus program in Prague. And the reader’s speculations were right.
Out of the five drivers, one offered a very inconvenient exchange rate, the second one refused to give back the correct change (even though the difference was just ten crowns), another one almost “killed” the couple with his reckless driving and the fourth one simply tried to rob them (he asked for 100 more than he stated before the ride). Only one Uber driver came out of the test with a clean slate. But the ride with this company, compared to the last test, was much more expensive; this time it was the third cheapest one.
Alejandro and Alexandra did not ask for much of the taxi drivers. They talked to each other in Spanish and when needed, they talked English with the driver. They had backpacks on their backs, a big piece of luggage and a reflex camera. The taxi drivers had only a little chance to find out that they were just there to test them.
All trips, except for the one starting at the airport, started in the street “Drtinova” in front of the hotel Kinsky Garden in Smíchov, so just a few streets away from the starting position in our last test. The destination was the same as before – Terminal 2 in the Václav Havel Airport.
The trips are in order as they have been evaluated by our couple – from the worst to the best:
Fix taxi – price for a trip from the airport – 900 CZK
A catastrophic first impression was made by the Fix taxi driver, who, as the only one, took our couple from the airport back to Smíchov. In front of the airport terminal, he approached them by himself and invited them to go to the city center with him. When Alexandra asked him how much it would cost, he stated that it would cost 800 CZK.
Another unpleasant surprise came in the moment they entered the vehicle. “It smelled absolutely terrible in there. It also looked as if he lived inside his own car,” says Alexandra. The smell was allegedly so bad that they both felt a bit sick. “We felt really sick during the trip and we had to open the windows,” adds Alejandro.
The driver used his phone during the trip and didn’t pay much attention to driving because of it. Even though it wasn’t pleasant, it was still bearable compared to another driver in this list.
After they arrived in Smíchov, the driver asked the couple to pay the fare and asked for one hundred more; 900 CZK in total. When Alexandra asked for a receipt, he reluctantly issued a simple cash receipt for 900 crowns. “He didn’t even want to give it to us. He also became very nervous when we started asking for the receipt,” Alejandro adds.
The driver eventually filled out the price, added some scribbles and signed it. But he didn’t add any concrete details about his person, such as the IČO or DIČ number. The passengers therefore only got a piece of paper that has nothing in common with a real receipt.
The price also significantly exceeds the price per kilometer allowed by the municipality. Considering the fact that the trip to the airport is roughly 16km long, the couple paid approximately 56 CZK per kilometer. That is twice as much as the rate allowed by the municipality (28 CZK per kilometer).
The taximeter really showed a nine and two zeroes. But with a bit of inspection it is clear that there is a decimal point between the zeroes, because the driver stopped the taximeter at 90 crowns, so at a price which he could easily multiply by ten. This is an example of one of the most commonly used tricks that dishonest taxi drivers have prepared for tourists.
Liftago – approximately 400 CZK
The second worst driver was the Liftago driver. Not because the trip was overpriced – it was actually the second cheapest one – but because of his reckless way of driving.
“He was driving and suddenly he pulled out a long roll of receipts and then he started filling them out behind the wheel. I can say, without exaggeration, that we almost crashed because of it a few times. For example, we missed an overtaking truck by only a bit,” says Alexandra.
AAA taxi – approximately 500 CZK
The third place belongs to AAA Taxi, partly because it was the second most expensive, but mainly because of the unpleasant behavior of its driver.
According to our testers, the trip was all right, even though he would press the accelerator too much at the beginning. “But he paid attention to his driving and did not use his phone. His car wasn’t the cleanest one, but it was nothing terrible,” says Alejandro.
The disagreement came when they all arrived at the airport. The driver offered the passengers a receipt from the taximeter, which stated 490 CZK and Alexandra handed him a 500 CZK bill.
“He took the five hundred bill, but he refused to give me back the ten crowns. I told him that I would like to have it, so that I could use it for the coffee machine, but he ignored me completely,” says Alexandra.
In the end, as the driver was adamant, the passengers really had to leave the car without the change. “But compared to what the Fix taxi driver had done, it was a small problem,” says Alejandro about the driver’s behavior.
Nejlevnějšítaxi.cz – around 300 CZK
Nejlevnějšítaxi.cz, run by Taxi Praha, was rated as the second best trip by our passengers. Compared to the last test, it replaced Uber as the cheapest service provider.
Our couple was satisfied with the ride and with the driver’s conduct. “Everything was in order, the vehicle was comfortable and clean, the driver used navigation and drove safely,” says Alejandro.
But as with AAA Taxi, the problems came when paying. The ride cost 292 CZK and Alexandra wanted to pay with a two thousand bill. “He claimed that he had no change and could only give us 1500 back, since he didn’t have more,” says Alexandra.
Had the passengers accepted this offer, the trip would have cost them 208 CZK more than it should have. But they agreed that this was most probably not an attempt of the driver to earn himself more money. “We thought it was an innocent offer. We did not feel like he was trying to rob us. Later he also offered us to pay by card,” adds Alejandro. In the end, the passengers paid with a smaller note that Alexandra found in her purse.
A small negative was that it took over 15 minutes until the driver arrived at the pickup destination, which is much longer than by the other tested companies.
Uber – trip to airport around 416 CZK
The winner of this test was the Uber driver. He wasn’t the cheapest one, but there were no problems. “The ride was great. The driver was very pleasant and everything was really clean and nice inside the vehicle,” describes Alejandro.
Politeness aside, taxi drivers are preparing the biggest protest.
His only reproach would be that the driver refused to give out the receipt. After all, he couldn’t print one from the taximeter, since Uber drivers don’t use one. “We asked for a receipt and he referred us back to the application, saying that we can look up the receipt there and print it out,” Alexandra explains.
But Uber did in this far worse than in the previous test, when we focused solely on the fare price. Last time, Uber came out the best, but this time it fell to third place. This happened because of the 1,3 coefficient that was in place in the app when we were ordering.
But we must say that the app did warn us about this when ordering the ride.