Monday 5 October 2009

Prepaid Taxis at Mumbai Airport on a looting spree !

Yesterday (4th Oct), I arrived from Delhi to Mumbai at the Mumbai Airport - Chatrapati Shivaji Domestic Airport and proceeded to the PRE-PAID TAXI Counter in the Departure section and got myself a Pre-Paid Taxi booked by paying the designated fare plus Rs 10 Service Charges. This is a good service initiated by “Domestic Airport Pre-paid Taxi Service” especially better for foreigners who were forced to pay exhorbitant monies for cabs – I remember a cabbie asking me for Rs. 500 for a distance of Rs 60/- some years back and I said “bahargaon ka nahin hoon…ch***** banata hai?” (I am not from outstation, I belong to here and don’t try to fool me) and then he came half price and I had to bargain further as no cab was willing to travel by meter. I saw foreigners paying Rs. 700 for Airport-Juhu ride instead of Rs 110 and there was no process or system to stop this money exhorting act of the taxi-drivers. Thanks that the Pre-paid taxi system was introduced in Mumbai that faulty metered taxis and arrogant taxi drivers charging exhorbitant prices finally ceased to exist, though some might yet argue that private taxi’s like Meru and Mega Cab (022-44224422) are better and professional than these Unionized yellow black Fiat taxis of Mumbai.

While booking the cab at the counter – I was asked – do you have any bags and since I had only strolleys (60 cms X 40 cms) which we carry for week long holidays, I said no and they guy cut a receipt of taxi fare and service charges and no luggage charges, which are Rs 10 per bag of 70 cmsX50 cms (Pls see the scanned copy of the Receipt - circled area). Many fellow passengers with small kids and families declared these similar strolleys as bags, when they were asked “kitna bag hain” (how many bags do you have?) and the pre-paid counter guys added Rs 10 to each and billed them, which they conveniently paid.

When I moved out, I was directed to a cab by the private security agency (GIC) person and the taxi driver post seeing the receipt refused to move as he said I had 3 strolleys/trolleys and the receipt should have 3 luggages – ie. Rs. 30 more. I argued that all the bags are much smaller than the HUGE – 70cmsX50cms bags and hence I do not have to pay the luggage charges. He asked me to come with him to the pre-paid counter and I refused and asked him to get the manager of the “Domestic Airport Pre-paid Taxi Service” – The officer who cut the receipt came and said I will have to pay luggage charges and when I asked him to get the measure-tape and measure the size and threw some big names, he was scared and asked his manager to intervene. Being a Sunday, I was free and fighting for human rights is a passion and hence waited for the manager. Till the time Cops came and were quite supportive and literally screwed the Cabbies for refusing to go. Let me acknowledge the support of the constable Mr. Nalawade and his Senior colleague who acknowledge the behaviors of cabbies asking for extra money from the customers and since customers are in hurry and Rs. 20-30 is not a big deal, they silently pay up. Time is more important than money, but if you see collectively, which I saw- almost every 7 out of 10 passengers, depending on their outlook were charged 2-3 luggage charges and these 20-30 ruppees does not matterhad it been a Monday morning, even I might have paid, to reach early to office rather than saving a few bucks.

The manager came and he also tried telling that I have to pay luggage charges and when the cops also saw on the receipt explaining the bag size (70cmsX50cms), they cornered the manager and the manager asked the taxi driver to go without the luggage charges.

The taxi drivers in frustration were trying to explain that they have to wait for 7-8 hours in queue and there is a nexus wherein the extra money for luggage is shared between the taxi drivers, the union and the service agency which is roughly – Rs 1 Crore as per rough estimate and back of the envelope calculations ( Rs 86 lacs as per the rough calculation- 1700 taxis X 70% = 1190 X Rs. 20= Rs 23800 per day X 365 days = Rs. 86,87000/=)

In this age of RTI and empowerment of knowledge the key, in my small way, I want to help all fellow passengers understand the concept of luggage, which no one bothers to look at as the quantum of amount is small – The rule (on the receipt) says that any BIG BAG of more that 70cmsX50cms size only. The taxi drivers can not charge for any bag smaller than this and not even for Big hand-bags – however bulky they are or even cartons which are small. Since there is no weight system in India, the taxi drivers and the private authorities – hand in gloves are trying to make bug bucks – and the concept remains subjective – but it is clearly written in black and white on your Pre-Paid vouchers that the Luggage charges are for Bags above 70 cms X50 cms– though small for each one of us individually, but imagine these 20-30 bucks can buy food for a poor family.

Hope this helps all understand and fight for their rights and was quite happy to see the Mumbai Airport Police supportive to the customers. One can look for the cops around the area as the GIC Private Security guys are useless as they also get tips for positioning the taxis ahead. One can call Airport Police Station on 26156315 /09 or even a toll free number 1800 2099 596. (I tried calling all these numbers before writing on this article and they pick up calls). Understand that these 20-30 bucks are no big deal but the attitude to give in to corruption is a big deal and all of us talk about changing India all the while, when it is in our own hands – in our own small ways ! And yes – let us stop such unionized cabbies and agencies spoiling the name of our Mumbai and India right from the first step one enters the land !

20 comments:

Vijay said...

thankx dude.. ur article was really informative...
just a couple of weeks back, my parents came back to mumbai by air.. but were fooled by such a prepaid taxi, and they had to shell out 400 rs. from santacruz to kandivali the reciept he gave was also fake....
thankx to u,now atleast we knw how an original reciept looks like...

Jalpesh Mehta said...

Thanks Vijay for spending your valuable time on my blog and sharing your comments.

Am sure, next time you and your near and dear ones will know how to tackle these fraudster Pre paid taxi guys.... A strong assertive dialogue claiming that you are a Mumbaikar and not a tourist (not neccesary in Marathi) is good enough to cut these people to sizes.

You may also view my blogs on 26/11 Anniversary - a close subject to my heart, which literally made me start writing on Social issues.

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Narendra Wagle said...

I fully agree with the comments. The malady in Mumbai (just like in Bangkok as well) is similar: take passengers to another ride after the air-ride. I arrived on 12 Nov 2011 from Bangalore and booked a cool cab at Dom. Terminal 1B (ref. no. B201111121381 17:20 hrs.) cashier AbhijitM who asked me to pay Rs 330 to Kandivali and issued receipt for Rs 325,including Rs. 30for 3 bags (all size < stipulated
max.)Daylight plunder of all arriving pax's.

Anonymous said...

refused to pay yesterday, I had no rush, so finally the taxi guy gave up...my point is ebery business or service should be profitable but be transparent and don't use tricks

snigdha G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandersxrvv said...

thankx dude.. ur article was really informative... just a couple of weeks back, my parents came back to mumbai by air.. but were fooled by such a prepaid taxi, and they had to shell out 400 rs. from santacruz to kandivali the reciept he gave was also fake.... thankx to u,now atleast we knw how an original reciept looks like...

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