All the things YOU hate about Hong Kong taxis, and words of praise for city cabs too

Our gripes about Hong Kong taxis rang a bell with readers, who complain drivers are rude, refuse rides, or feign ignorance. But compared to taxis in Macau, China, and Malaysia they’re a pleasure, one says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 5:02pm

After we posted our list of five things we hate about Hong Kong taxis, we got a lot of feedback from readers, most with their own pet peeves about taking cabs in the city.

One complaint, from Michelle Ku, was about getting change back – if any. “I hate them for charging me more without saying anything like they don’t have change. I understand sometimes it’s maybe 70 cents or 40 cents, and they don’t have small change, but doing it by default is annoying.”

Oswaldo Huezo is frustrated when cabbies demand to know where you’re going first. “They won’t take you for a five- to 10-minute cab ride (about half an hour walking). I heard it’s illegal to refuse service based on a short-distance ride, but they do it all the time.”

Some taxi drivers seem to test their passengers, as Lilibeth Sayson Diotay Waterhouse gripes: “The taxi driver claims they don’t know where you are going and ask you to be their GPS. And then when you tell them which way to go, they say the other way is faster. Grrrrrr,” she says.

Driving abilities are questioned by Earl Young, who finds “the incessant brake-gas-brake-gas so annoying. Seriously, who drives like that?” He does, though, say he quite enjoyed the cabbie singing Cantonese opera to him.

Many people, including Ian Pomeroy, pointed out most taxi drivers are rude. “Most say nothing and don’t even acknowledge that they have understood where you have asked to go (and yes I say my destination in Cantonese most of the time). Unacceptable from any taxi driver anywhere in the world,” he says.

In the same vein, Vikesh Harjani complains that when he tries to get a cab to go from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, they reject him and it he has to ask as many as five taxis before he can get a ride.

Many readers complained about smelly cabs or remarked how dirty they were. Hygiene habits were questioned by Singaporean Teck Lee, who observed a driver roll down his window and do a long spit. “Wherever that lands is not his business, never mind some of it lands in the back of the passenger seat because of the draught from a moving vehicle.” Ewwww.

A reader from Sai Kung, Wong, is diligent in keeping track of his rides and shared some records with us. He notes the taxi driver’s name and licence number as well as how the ride went. Wong shared an incident that happened to him, though he says he was too amazed or stressed out to remember to write down the relevant details.

“A red cab diver refused to drive [me] to Sai Kung in the driving rain. What he did was fake engine failure at Tseung Kwan O and let me wait in the car while he radioed (fruitlessly) for another cab to take me to my destination. This added 30 minues to my journey, and he kept his meter running throughout. Of course I refused to pay full fare.

When I complained about this to the taxi hotline, they asked if I wanted to take the driver to court, knowing full well such a case would be thrown out. There is no recourse for bad service in HK.”

However, Eugene Hausenfaus and Alan Morris seem to think our taxi drivers are far better than others in the region. Hausenfaus says: “Try a Macau taxi and then you will appreciate the professionalism of Hong Kong taxis. Macau taxis are arrogant, rude and lazy.”

Morris adds: “Hong Kong taxi drivers, even the grumpy ones, are fantastic compared to those in other areas or cities. In Kuala Lumpur, one has to deal with smelly, beaten up taxis and terrible drivers - a good proportion of which will try to scam you. Pretty much the same in Macau, China, Indonesia etc. Getting into a Hong Kong taxi is a veritable pleasure!”

Look out for Bernice Chan and Kevin Kwong on Friday morning as they talk about readers’ taxi gripes on Facebook Live! To see them, go to https://www.facebook.com/southchinamorningpost/