Not Again! How to Avoid (and Report) Shady Taxi Drivers in Beijing

Not Again! How to Avoid (and Report) Shady Taxi Drivers in Beijing

Yet again a taxi driver takes the longer way to your house; yet again the fruit seller charges you 10 RMB extra for those bananas; yet again you pay 100 RMB more for that skirt you were looking at the other day. It seems that for anyone living in Beijing as an expat, being cheated or charged extra is a part of everyday life. But that doesn't mean it isn't annoying. It also doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it. In certain situations, customers have the power to lodge an official complaint, especially when it comes to shady taxi drivers. In light of the recent public outrage towards drivers ruthlessly overcharging customers during the horrific floods on July 21, we've outlined some of the most common ways that expats and locals alike are cheated and scammed by Beijing taxis and what to do when you fall prey to a scrupulous driver.

Common rip-off methods:

1) The fake money and receipt scam
When you are paying for your taxi ride, sometimes you don't have spare change. Maybe you'll be in a cab, and the driver will say that he doesn't have change either or give you some other reason for you to look for smaller change. While you are looking for change, it isn't uncommon for the driver to take give you fake change and a fake receipt. The fake receipt will have a telephone number that is out of service, the two words "Ticket Type (票样)", and a red round stamp for "authenticity". Another common scam is that they claim your 100 RMB note is fake (even though it's not), and without you noticing they exchange your valid note for a fake one and hand the fake one back to you.

2) Shady metres
While riding in a taxi you may notice that the meter is not calculating; you may even notice that your fare is 20 or more RMB higher than it usually is. The driver might even stop along the road and ask others if they are looking for a ride.

3)  Upfront payment
A driver refuses to take you to the place you want to go to unless you pay him 30 or 50 RMB as an initial fee.


Black cabs are pretty easy to recognize and should be avoided at all cost. For clone cabs, check out the uniform of the cab driver. In the summer time, official cab drivers all wear the same short-sleeved yellow shirts and the interior of the cars should be white. Also, the cab meter should be within sight at the front of the car. Also check out the official photo, registration number, and name of the cab driver on the cab licence in the front seat. If the driver, name, or number are not visible or the same as the ID, you should quickly get out of the car. These cars are usually out very early in the morning or late at night, so be careful around these times.

When you get into the car, it's best to sit in the passenger seat next to the driver so that you can clearly see the driver and his credentials.  Be sure at times to check the meter, if you see it's not calculating the fee normally, get out as soon as you can. To prevent any type of money fraud, ask the driver to turn on the light if you can't see your money clearly, have change available, and don't give the driver an excuse to switch your money out for fake bills.

If you encounter any problems while using a legal, regular taxi service (refusal to give a receipt, bad driving, etc.), you can complain by calling the 24-hour hotline at 6835 1159 or 6835 1570.  The first number is an automatic telephone service system, and you can look up the information of the driver and car. You can also call the cab company directly to complain; the number should be on the roof of the car. 

Beijing's 15 Largest Cab Companies Complaint Numbers


Telephone Number


Telephone Number

United Crescent (新月联合)

6736 6666


8361 1888

Shou Qi Group (首汽/首汽友联)

6406 5088

Beiqi Jiulong(北汽九龙)

8456 5838

Northern (北方)

6120 2027

Yuyang Group/Wanquanyuan(渔阳联合/万泉缘)

8760 5585

Beifang Quangye(北方创业)

6120 6596

Lucky Dragon(祥龙)

5133 5051


6338 3123


8797 1518

Capital Alliance(京联)

8151 4646



Additional info: Beijing Cab Meter System: 10 RMB/3 KM, 2 RMB/ km after 3 km, 2 RMB surcharge. All trips over 15 km are subject to a 50% additional charge. All trip speeds slower than 12 km/hour will incur a 1 km charge every 5 minutes. Cabs waiting for customers also charge a 1 km charge every 5 minutes. From 23:00-5:00 the initial starting fee increases to 11 RMB (can be higher depending on the company).  A fee of 3 RMB is charged for phone calls for renting a cab, and any bridge or street tolls are at the customer's charge.

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Keywords: Beijing taxi expat safety Beijing common scams Taxi Beijing taxi ripoffs Beijing cab scams


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