Prague’s taxi drivers haven’t earned the best reputation over the years, and during the weekend two high-profile incidents have tarnished them even more.
One tourist was charged a whopping 480 euros – roughly 12,500 crowns – for a 14-kilometer journey from Old Town Square to her Prague 4 hotel.
The woman didn’t have enough money, so was taken to an ATM. She managed to negotiate the price down by half – to 5,000 crowns plus 50 euros – which was still about 25 times higher than it should have been.
“The woman asked him for a receipt and received a handwritten document,” police spokesperson Irena Seifertová told iDnes.cz. “Then he drove her back to the hotel.”
Later, the woman filed a police report. The taxi driver was apprehended on Pařížská street by Old Town Square, and eventually confessed. Unsurprisingly, the police have dealt with similar incidents from the same driver “several” times before.
On Saturday night, another taxi driver was even more brazen in his extortion attempt.
According to Blesk.cz, the driver attempted to charge two tourists 1920 CZK for a two-kilometer ride upon arriving at their hotel.
While willing to pay, the couple did not have enough cash on them. The driver allowed the man to go to his hotel room, but kept the woman locked in his car as collateral.
Thankfully, a receptionist at the hotel was notified that something was amiss and went outside to confront the driver. While he agreed to drop the price to 800 crowns, the receptionist deemed this to still be exorbitant.
“The receptionist paid the driver 300 crowns, but he tore up the banknotes, threw them to the ground, and threatened them that if they interfere, he will find them and they will die slowly and painfully,” said city police spokesperson Michaela Teplá.
Police were notified and managed to track down the driver later on.
Because these incidents involve tourists (witnesses) who may shortly leave the country, it can often be difficult for officials to carry out successful prosecution. But the city of Prague is currently taking measures to combat fraudulent taxi drivers, which includes an advertising campaign in the city center that warns tourists of their practices.
They have also approved a new amendment to the Road Traffic Act that will help police deal with such matters.
“If the amendment is approved by the senate, it will be possible [for officers] to remove the license [of a taxi driver] on the spot based only on the suspicion of overcharging,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová told iDnes.