You're in a foreign country, in the back seat of a grumpy cab driver's car, and the cab driver is refusing to follow directions. What do you do?
How do you handle a taxi driver who refuses to follow directions, insists the address you gave him doesn’t exist, and repeatedly orders you to exit the cab in the middle of the road?
That was my situation in Vienna last week. In foreign cities with good mass transit, I use taxis as a last resort. With the Vienna Card I conveniently navigated the city by tram, getting in a cab only when exhausted or when there’s too much luggage to drag through the streets.
Here’s my taxi trial. Please tell me what you would do?
My hotel called a taxi to take me to the cruise dock.
I showed the driver the handy Google map with an arrow marking the route as well as the note that
Mozart river ship was tied up near the Millennium Tower between Nordbahnbrucke and Brigittenauerbrucke.
After we arrived at the river cruise dock, my anxious driver again asked me what to do and I again showed him the map and the streets. He muttered in German. I told him to turn where the sign indicated the ships’ berths. Reluctantly, he drove the river road, spitting out “Viking,” “AMA,” and the names of the other lines, but the Crystal Mozart wasn’t there. Stopping the cab, he yelled “no ship.”
After I insisted that he get back on the main road to look for “Nordbahnbrucke” and “Brigittenauerbrucke,” he reluctantly did. About a mile later, he followed an exit for a river park, stopped the car--but not the meter-- and asked me to get out. I refused as no ships were in sight.
The driver repeatedly pointed to the river and the tower, shouting in German, “Millennium Tower, river, no ship.” I told him to start the taxi and drive along the river. When the road narrowed, he stopped, turned around to me and yelled “This no road,” but by the time he faced front again a truck had driven up the one-lane route. I felt triumphant. I told the driver to go down that road and, sure enough, we came upon the Crystal Mozart.
As soon as we pulled up, a staff person opened my door. The driver said the fare was 30 euros. I protested. After all, the mad cabbie had stopped several times, turning a short trip into a much longer one. He shrugged his shoulders and pushed the credit card receipt in my direction. I continued to argue for a reduced fare again, he continued to shrug, and the Crystal staff person kept holding the car door open.
Tired, frustrated and not wanting to delay the boarding process (other cars were waiting to unload), I muttered in English and signed the receipt. I don’t feel good about this. I wanted to keep arguing until the driver cut the tab in half, but that would likely have taken much longer and created an even more of a scene.
What would you have done? Please share your tales of taxi trials.