FOREIGNER IN BRATISLAVA

Blog: Hop on a taxi in the street - and pay more

THE EXPERIENCE of getting a taxi without calling the cab company first probably ranks among the first mistakes anyone new to Bratislava will make.  

Calling a taxi if you don't speak Slovak is quite a challenge. Calling a taxi if you don't speak Slovak is quite a challenge. (Source: Sme - Gabriel Kuchta)

There is this unwritten rule where a taxi driver decides how much to charge you if he is flagged down in the street, compared to getting the official rate (price per km) set by the taxi company and the use of the taximeter. 

Many people I know have at some point paid too much for a taxi fare. In my case it was on my way to a job interview the first day I arrived to Bratislava.  I had taken the correct bus that would take me very close to my destination, but as my unfortunate case was, when you hear the bus stop being called and without any Slovak speaking skills, it all sounds the same. Little did I know that I was only one bus stop away from my destination and of course this did not stop my taxi driver from charging me €10 for what constituted about a 2-kilometre drive. 

The reasoning behind why a taxi driver can pick and choose how much to charge you when he is flagged down in the street is still unclear to me, but it is known that if you do not call in advance to get a taxi you will pay premium for a ride. 

Now, there are many taxi companies and it is possible that a few of them prefer to park and wait in common tourist spots, I can't say that I have tried to flag down a taxi from a company that I usually call to get a taxi, but from experience it is probably safer to just call. 

Calling a taxi if you don't speak Slovak is quite a challenge, as not many operators speak English or have the patience to understand you. If there are English speaking operators, the taxi companies don't put much effort in advertising it either. So you again have to rely on a friend or a good-hearted stranger that can help you get one for you, and hoping that the driver will take you to the correct destination. 

Taxi service in itself is not bad in the city, there haven't been many problems with availability (but good luck on New Year's Eve) or quality of service. But the issue still remains about the big difference in pricing when flagging down a taxi. 

Within the community of expats you will always hear these stories, and their advice so far has been to agree on the price before the trip, another solution is to get a receipt from the taxi driver and contact the Slovak Trade Inspection to file a complaint, a last option can be to contact the police, but if you do not speak Slovak this will be quite a complex endeavour in itself.

Finally, not all is bad, in the recent months some mobile applications have come up that help us non-Slovak speakers to get a taxi, and until we can get a handle on speaking the language, this proves to be one of the easiest options.

By Diego Loyola -  InterNations Ambassadors Bratislava

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