You may have heard a few stories about bad experiences with taxis in Sofia. I’ve heard many, however it was only recently that I experienced a nasty taxi ride myself.
In Bulgaria, all taxis work on a meter and they should have rates published on the back windows and inside the car. I’ve been told to always check the rates before I get in a taxi on the street so recently, when I had to do just that, I was very careful to make sure the rates were reasonable before I jumped into the car.
However, sadly for me, the rates were not an issue on this occasion, the issue was that the driver thought it would be ok to rip me off by starting the meter at 9 leva (it should have been no more than 1 leva). It would seem that he had the meter running while being parked up in the taxi rank and when I got in he chose not to reset it. It was a few minutes into the journey when I noticed the price was far too high and I questioned his ‘mistake’. He told me not to worry however, knowing that this is a common scam, I waited until I was somewhere safe a few kilometres down the road and asked him to stop the car. I paid him an amount that was adequate for the journey but he wouldn’t accept and demanded I paid what was showing on the meter. Obviously this was wrong so I left him the money and got out of the car. He didn’t want to give up easily so he chased me with his car for 5 minutes while shouting all sorts of abuse! Now, I could have paid him and taken a receipt and made a complaint but I don’t believe this is the answer. I knew that getting my money back would be difficult and I was sure at this stage that he was probably not even a fully registered driver so he would’t be punished for his actions. I made my point, and despite it being a bit frightening at the time, I’m glad I did.
This event taught me a very valuable lesson and I hope it will help you too. Usually, when I need to order taxis in Sofia I use an app such as Yellow Taxi or TaxiMe. On this occasion, because I was in a hurry, I made the mistake of taking a taxi I saw parked on the street. If you use an app or book directly with the reputable taxi companies you can be sure that this type of problem won’t happen. The drivers are tracked using GPS and if there is any problem with the fare, you have your booking recorded.
From now on, no matter how much of a rush I’m in, I will only book a taxi through one of the taxi apps. I’ve had only great experiences with them and in fairness, I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for a car to arrive. To avoid these nasty drivers waiting on the street to scam people, I recommend that everyone does the same thing!
I would like to add that I am not mentioning here the name of the company that this driver had advertised on his car because I’ve since been told he wasn’t a registered driver with them. It wouldn’t be fair to blame that company if this is the case. Again, only if you book a taxi by phone or app can you be sure you are getting a registered driver/car and this is the important point!