Recently there was an accident in Busan where a Japanese woman was ripped off by a taxi driver. When she asked for a receipt, 39,000 won was written on the sheet while the number on the taximeter was only 19,000 won. She asked the driver about the extra fee, knowing that the extra 20,000 won was added out of nowhere. The driver told her that it was a mistake. Luckily she only had to pay 19,000 won eventually, but she got enraged by how she was mistreated.
If you are a foreigner, unfortunately, it is highly possible that you are exposed to the danger of being ripped off when using a cab. Some taxi drivers think that foreigners are good preys to rip off as they cannot understand Korean. So here are some tips which can prevent you from spending extra money when taking a cab.
Some taxi drivers may not use the taximeter and ask for more money when they take you to the destination. It is illegal to turn off the device and drive the taxi, so check whether the taximeter is on. The basic rates are different from city to city, but the default rate in Seoul is 3,000 won for 2 km; Busan and Jeju are 2,800 won for 2 km.
When you get off from a cab, tell the driver to print out the receipt. Whether you pay cash or use a credit card, you can get the receipt. On the receipt, various information like the taxi number, company number, distances, and fare is printed. If you have a problem later (for example when you left something at the cab), the receipt will be very helpful.
3. Beware of a surcharge after midnight.
After midnight, most of the public transportation are closed and you probably have to take a cab to get around. However, taxi fare increases by 20% if you take a cab after midnight. In other words, if the fee is 10,000 won during the day time, then you have to pay 12,000 won for the same distance during the night. The surcharge is applied from midnight to 4 AM. Also if you go to one city to another, such as from Seoul to Incheon, you have to pay an extra 20% of the fare too. And if you take a taxi to go to another city after midnight, you have to pay an additional 40 % of the normal fare.
4. Black taxis are Premium Taxis with an extra fare.
Sometimes you will see black taxis on the street. They are premium taxis whose drivers are certified by local governments for their safe driving history. However, their basic fare is 5,000 won (while other taxis’ are 3,000 won) and pay 200 won for every 178 meters. Even though they are more expensive, they don’t ask for surcharge after midnight.
5. Look at the city sign on the taxi to figure out whether it’s a Seoul taxi or not.
If you take a taxi in Seoul, take a look at the city sign of the taxi before you hail one. Even though most of the taxis in Seoul accept customers who want to go somewhere in Seoul, some taxis don’t. It is because those taxis are not from Seoul. They offer a ride in Gyeonggi-do province cities in the vicinity of Seoul (like Seongnam) and drive to Seoul only when customers from the cities ask to go to Seoul. After the customers get off in Seoul, the taxi drivers look for customers who want to go back to the cities (outside of Seoul) where the taxis are from. Taxis that drive in Seoul have rooftop lights with the word ‘서울(Seoul)’ on. Taxis from Seongnam and other Gyeonggi provinces have indicating signs on the sides or the top of the taxis.