The Paris Taxi Scam
In the middle of writing my post about what to do in Paris, I realized I’d never told you all about my encounter with a Paris Taxi scam. It may seem obvious that this was a scam, but I’m a very cautious and naturally suspicious person and I nearly fell for it. When you’re jetlagged and frustrated after an hour of trying to get the right metro and you’ve been lugging a 60lb suitcase up and down stairs, your judgement just isn’t as good as it normally is.
The metro from the airport (CDG) to Paris was fairly straightforward – if you asked a couple people they gave you reasonable answers and it worked out fine. The Gare du Nord is freaking confusing when you’re overly tired and suffering from a little language/culture shock. I dragged my suitcase up and down stairs before giving up on the metro. I recommend not bothering – if it doesn’t become apparent at this stage, you’ve already saved yourself 30 euros, get a taxi to your next destination.
BUT MAKE SURE YOU USE THE TAXI LINE
There will probably be a long line of people waiting for taxis. Just wait, or call an Uber. There will probably be people saying they have a taxi nearby – ignore them. I didn’t. In my defense I was really tired. The line was very, very long and there was a man – who mind you, none of the guards or employees of the Gare were doing anything about – who said you didn’t have to wait. At the time it made some relative sense to me. He had parked his cab rather than idle in the long line. Nope. This was the Paris Taxi scam.
When we started getting a little further from the line towards an unmarked car and he picked up my suitcase I went into a little panic mode. Luckily I’m not shy and I was too fed up to worry about causing a scene. I had an argument with a man, insisted he give me back my suitcase (it was pretty heavy so this wasn’t difficult). I insisted he give me back my bag and pulled it away from him. A girl on a bicycle who spoke English stopped and asked if I was alright. She told the man to leave me alone while I dragged myself back to the taxi line. All the while I was standing in line, the man heckled me about my poor choice.
Now, what if I had gotten in the car? What did I narrowly avoid? Well, chances are good that I wouldn’t have been kidnapped or physically harmed. But who knows. Normally (and you can find this out in many a forum) they just want large sums of money. They will insist that this ride costs upwards of 100 euros. You can argue with them an get them down to 50 or even 30 but you’re still massively overpaying.
If you wind up in this situation, threaten to call the police. Threaten anything you have to in order to get out. They will try to trick you – they’ve probably done this dozens of times before so they’ve heard “excuses” for not paying. They might say they will call the police – don’t believe them. If it’s not an official taxi (always look up what a country’s taxis look like) don’t get in and if you already have, well, keep arguing.
I hope this can help people be a little more aware while traveling as I know this has happened to a lot of people. This situation goes for many countries. Make sure the meter is running (many countries the taxi drivers will see you’re a foreigner and upcharge). Make sure you know what color/markings (Italy has white taxis, for instance, and in South Korea the color of the car will often indicate the cost of the ride) that country’s taxis have.
I don’t want the Paris taxi scam to deter people from having a good time, but I think awareness of it should be improved. Good luck and have fun 🙂