A positive view of the world is always appealing and I very rarely use this medium to complain about stuff. But this week I had a bad experience, which I wanted to share. Partly this is to get it off my chest, but also as a warning to others.
On Wednesday morning, I was talking with a friend about a good turn that was done for me not so long ago by a stranger. We concluded that most people in the world are basically good and bad people are really a small, but widely discussed minority. Later in the day, I met one of these individuals …
I was in Sweden, a country that I have a certain affection for, having been visiting regularly for more than 25 years. I was in the Stockholm suburb of Kista for a conference. It had all gone quite well. Both of my presentations had been well attended and I had met some old friends. It was time to head for the airport, so I went to look for a taxi and this is when it all started to go wrong.
I had the option to use the train to go to the airport, but I was in a slight hurry, which is why I was using a taxi. I was rather wary, as one of my friends had been ripped off with a ridiculous fare demand the previous day. I had been advised to be careful about which taxi company I used and I looked out for a Taxi Stockholm vehicle and there was one right outside of my hotel. I asked about the fare to the airport and was told that it was not fixed, but the meter would be used. This was unsurprising. I was even pleased to see that the car was a hybrid, so I felt a little bit green.
It took just 22 minutes to reach the airport, so I was comfortably on schedule. When we arrived, I did not ask the fare, just handed over the credit card. The driver handed me the machine for me to enter my PIN and it looked at the amount. I explained to him that there had been an error – he had entered too many digits. He said there was no error and that fares to the airport were not regulated and always more expensive as their costs were greater. I could accept that, but not the magnitude of the increase. But it was too late, he had got my credit card. I had been fleeced comprehensively.
What is annoying is that I do not believe that he broke the law. There were many factors in play. The fares were displayed, but the table of number s is quite unintelligible. Prices in Sweden always look high as the Swedish Kroner is a small unit (about 15 to the US Dollar). Although I have the intellect to handle the conversion, this is challenging when I am tired, stressed or in a hurry (or all of those).
The most annoying aspect is the labelling of the car. I looked as I left and it did say Taxi Stockholm, where there were some other words, in very small print, between the two main words – so they were actually something like Taxi A2B Stockholm or something like that. This makes all the difference. The difference between a reputable company and a very disreputable one.
I wonder what would have happened if I had refused to pay? Would he have called the Police? Would I be rotting in a Stockholm jail by now? Since he broke no law, I am not at all sure what the outcome might have been. I just no that I feel very bad about the whole thing and am of the opinion that the Swedish authorities need to take action.
In the meantime, if you go to Stockholm, take the train.