Complaints against taxi drivers in Vietnam

Lately both Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nien news have reported about scams in regards to Mai Linh Taxi here in Ho Chi Minh city.  In one case, a customer paid 6 million VND for a ride that should have cost only 150,000 VND.  In another case, a customer paid 4 million VND for a trip that also nornally costs 150,000 VND.

Mai Linh Group’s responded that it was the fault of fake taxis imitating Mai Linh taxis.  Yes, there are many imitation taxis out there but that does not mean the Mai Linh Group is innocent here.  Their taxi drivers are also cheating customers as well.  It happened twice to me last week, once in Nha Trang and the other here in Saigon.

In Nha Trang, the airport is only about 30 minutes from the city center.  Most taxis and other bus services charge from 160,000 VND to 180,000 VND.  I took Mai Linh twice, each time I had to pay 360,000 VND the first time even though the fixed rate was 160,000 VND.  My last trip, my hotel was about 10 minutes closer to the airport but the Mai Linh taxi driver took ONE hour to get to the airport charging me about 490,000 VND (I found out about the fixed rate just today).

When I got back into HCMC, I again took a Mai Linh taxi from the airport to my home in District 1.  During the trip, I caught the taxi driver taking a “detour” from NKKN to Vo Thi Sau and then turning back towards NKKN.  He added about 10 minutes to the trip and an extra 10,000 VND.  Yeah, it was small money and I did not want to complain since I was in a hurry.  He even made me pay for the airport toll fee even though he was supposed to be responsible.  Many of my friends just pay it as well since it is only 5,000 VND but a friend at the airport told me that the taxis are responsible for that fee, not the customer.

This is sad because in the past, Mai Linh had a great reputation for honesty and good customer service but in the last year this has all changed.  I will no longer take a Mai Linh taxi anymore.  Vinataxi still has a good reputation so I will stick with them for now on.  Vinasun can be a good choice as well but they cheated me once in the past with “detours”.

Hence, when you are cheated by a “fake” Mai Linh Group taxi, it is most likely a REAL Mai Linh taxi that is cheating you.  Mai Linh Group is responsible.

  • I have had some terrible experiences with Vinasun as well, not so much about cheating the price, but more about very rude drivers. I feel that they could not control quality during their rapid expansion. Maybe the best bet is Vinataxi, but their cars are normally so small.

    • Perfect size for me. I used to use only Vinataxi but was convinced to use Mai Linh. No more. SaigonTourist has good drivers that freelance as well but maybe too small for you.

  • Mike

    Why can’t you pre negotiate a price before getting in and going? Stupid question right?

    • Yeah but can be hard to do if you have “get-to-the-airport-jeetors”. It makes sense but I just assumed it was the normal price because it was Mai Linh. With other taxis, I negotiate or ask. Mai Linh HAD that good reputation in the past. I was never cheated until this year.

  • Baray

    Too bad Tuoi Tre and Thanh Nhien are only exposing this problem now. My very first taxi ride in HCMC 6 years ago cost me VND 200,000 when it was only supposed to be VND 20,000. That was a Mailin Taxi I took in front of the hotel I was staying in. I had a receipt and filed a complaint but nothing happened.

    Fast forward to 2007, a Vinasun taxi we were in sped away taking with it I and my friend’s belongings (2 laptops, 1 passport, camera accessories). Again we filed a complaint, to no avail.

    • You could not recover your passport?

      My boss accidentally left his iPhone 4 in a Mai Linh taxi last year. He called immediately but the taxi driver already sold it. He could not recover anything and Mai Linh was not hopeful. I had another friend who accidentally left bags in a Mai Linh taxi but they were gone when she called. They probably blamed “fake” taxis.

      • Baray

        I never got my passport back. This was a legitimate Vinasun taxi because we were using taxi cards. Our fault was not taking the taxi’s number even though it was everywhere inside the vehicle and also trusting the guy. That was a stupid and expensive mistake on our part.

        • Yeah, I keep forgetting to take the number as well. My friend told me that last week and they could have gotten some money back.

          You know, I have taken illegitimate taxis before but normally they ask for a set rate, they never use the meter.

  • When I was in Vietnam the 1st time I used Vinataxi and Vinasun a lot. But then people told me to use only Vinasun or Mailinh. Have found nothing to complain, so far nothing is beyond what I can tolerate (driver doesn’t understand basic English, for instance). Or maybe I just can’t be bothered…

    Luckily I’ve never been charged more than what I have pay to except once by a white taxi trying to fake Vinasun, I think…

    • What did you pay from the airport to the backpacker area? It should be between 100,000 – 150,000 VND metered.

  • Mark Lamerton

    Living in Thailand we’re used to taxis trying to rip-off customers, especially tourists. They key is never to negotiate and insist on the meter. Never use a taxi without the driver switching on the meter as soon as you get in. In Vietnam we always use Vinasun and never have problems – maybe we’ve been lucky. IMO, the taxis are better in Vietnam because they always take you where you want to go – in Thailand the driver often stops then refuses to take you if it’s not where “they” want to go!

    • Thanks for your comments. I had a horrible time with taxis during my only visit to Bangkok. I remember we had to ask a policeman for help. This was odd but it worked and he even got a good fare for us.

      I only had about 7 bad experiences with taxis in Vietnam since I have been here (2 in Nha Trang, 3 in Saigon and 2 in Hanoi). I have been lucky too I guess.

    • Shud

      I’ve just come back from Ho Chi Minh, and for the first time in my life, I’ve been threaten by a taxi driver. He asked for VND951,000 for 5 minutes ride. Threaten to bring me and my friend to police station, He did drove us to “police station”, but I believe there is not much “police station” in HCMC, because after more than 15 minutes drive from the city center, we still cannot fine one. Finally, after negotiating and begging the driver, he reduce it to VND95,100. By the way, we already gave him VND100,000 before the negotiation, and another VND100,000 after the negotiation. He “forgot” the first VND100,000 even we keep reminding him. As for the second VND100,000 – he apologized for not having small change to return to us. So “sweet”, thinking of him “apologizing” to us after the incident. Just for sharing, I took the taxi number, it is 52V – 2258.

      • Sounds like it was not an official taxi. Next time, just open the taxi and get out. If he says something, scream.

        You can call the taxi company but it seems that you got the license number, not taxi number.

        Sorry about this experience.

        • Shud

          Ya, we tried to open the door, but he already altered all the door and also the window, so that we cant opened them from inside.
          A very bad experience, but cannot still thankful that we save that night.

          • Sorry to hear that. Next time just take Vinasun or Vinataxi. You should be okay with them. I gave up on Mai Linh which has many clones here.

  • hainm

    I am Vietnamese but also had really bad experience with taxi in VN. 😀

    • Yeah, I know many Vietnamese that hate taxis too. What is your experience?

      • hainm

        well, I caught a fake taxi from Noi Bai Airport (Ha noi) to Gia Lam (Ha Noi), the taxi did not have meter at all and the driver just asked me 200K VND (it should be about 100-150K VND). I should ask before going. 😀

  • Trung

    You’re supposed to pay for the toll, not the taxi driver!

    • Not at Tan Son Nhat airport, the taxi must pay it. They will be reimbursed by their employers hence you will notice they never give the receipt to passengers. Other tolls in Vietnam, if I pay, the taxi driver gave me the receipt.

  • Paul

    Is there any of that w/ Saigon Airport Taxi?
    Last Jan, I saw a bunch of ’em @ TSN airport but just a small number of Mai Linh, Vinasun & other taxis were allowed in to pickup customers. I had to asked for Vinasun taxi specifically. Never been on SG Airport taxi before, so I didn’t want to take a chance.
    I guess next time, I’ll have to walk all the way out to the entrance & have my bro-in-law to pick up. Can’t trust no one now a day.
    About the toll, my case, the drivers cover that.

    • Saigon Airport Taxi is the overpriced of the bunch. I see some people walking out of the airport and catching opposite of Parkson. The economy is not doing so well so everybody charges a bit more. My normal yoghurt for breakfast increased last week. I have to watch the gas attendants when they fill up my bike. Prices vary with different gas stations.

      Just have to deal with this until the economy recovers.

  • Clifton Buck-Kauffman

    I suggest strolling over to the nearby domestic terminal where there is a selection of taxi companies’ vehicles to choose between.

    I agree that the Saigon Airport taxis are rip-offs quite often as they will not engage the meter unless firmly directed to do so.

  • Malaysian

    My first and last holiday in ho chi minh. Bad city and arrogant people. Bad taxi driver alot.care guys

    • Sorry to hear about this. I have lived here for over 11 years and still have taxi issues.

  • Tommy Ng

    I just got scammed by a private taxi driver. He basically grabbed my money from my wallet and started counting it. I had 4,500,000 in my wallet, and when I got back, I was short 1,000,000. Nothing I can do now…

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