Train Hong Kong taxi drivers to give better service

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 1:59am

A local taxi driver's conviction ("Taxi driver banned for cheating officer", September 29) was described by the magistrate as marring Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist city. That driver was clearly a thief; luckily, his victim was a plain-clothes policewoman, which led to his arrest.

However, even the taxi drivers' association chairman commented that the sentence imposed (100 hours of community service) was too soft to deter others. That driver will, unfortunately, be allowed back on the roads after a brief six-month suspension. A lifetime ban would have been better.

Almost all visitors to Hong Kong will take a taxi at some point, so it is vital that our taxi service be satisfactory, or tourists may be put off return visits. Many residents also frequently experience their unsatisfactory conduct.

When told the requested destination, whether in Cantonese or English, many drivers remain silent, so the perplexed passenger does not know if he has been heard or understood, or whether the driver knows where the place is.

Some drivers can't even make change for a HK$100 note. Short-changing passengers is also common. If the passenger wishes to tip the driver, that should be the passenger's choice, not an act by the driver, who withholds money. And how many lost mobile phones in taxis are never returned? Even if you immediately call the number of the lost phone, there is no answer, as the driver has already switched it off to steal it.

Travellers with bulky luggage rarely get any help with it unless they pointedly ask the driver.

These kinds of misconduct do much to give visitors a poor impression. Certainly, some drivers are ethical, polite and helpful, but not enough of them are.

I'd like to recommend better customer-service training and better supervision of erring taxi drivers. Even if we have to pay a little more for a better taxi experience, it would be worth it.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels