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As a service to readers, I wanted to share a bad experience with state-sanctioned taxi rip-offs in Tallinn. Taxis may legally charge any price they want, and so the unsuspecting visitor becomes a victim of the most expensive taxi service in the world, at least five times the cost of any normal ride. I had to pay 38 euros to go only 5.2 km from the airport to my hotel at the edge of the Old Town. The ride lasted less than 10 minutes.
Last week I arrived at Tallinn Airport at 23:15 from Amsterdam. I got in the first taxi waiting at the official taxi rank. Right after leaving the airport, I saw that the meter already showed 10 euros and was advancing at what seemed to be 0.50 euros for every 100 meters. I questioned the driver and he directed me to the card on the window indicating the tariff. The card said that the price was 5.50 euros for each km, after an initial entry fee of 6.50 euros. So I called the tourist information hotline printed on the card (tel. 1345) and nobody there could speak any English!
The airport personnel have tried to help, but there is nothing that they can do to protect visitors using the official taxi rank at Tallinn Airport, even though it is easy to identify my taxi company by the receipt I got plus the security cameras recording what happens on the sidewalk right outside the terminal building. I had no choice but to pay the fare as my baggage was hostage in the trunk and, since it was already midnight, I was simply too tired to fight. The receptionist at the hotel could only say “some taxis are very expensive,” as if this is a normal everyday occurrence.
So it is apparently legal in Estonia for taxi companies to charge whatever price they want as long as they display the tariff it on the passenger window as you get in, even though most visitors get into a taxi expecting to pay a regulated price. This policy is patently ridiculous and indefensible, as nobody arriving at an airport – especially with small children, baggage and/or late at night, expects to have to shop around for a normal taxi ride to a standard destination. Perhaps The Baltic Times can investigate what are the vested interests that perpetuate such state-sanctioned ripoffs.
For the record, the taxi company that ripped me off is registered as Traffic Oil OU, company registration number 10957822.
Very truly yours,
Richard N. Golden