The Israeli Taxi Scam: “Sorry – I have no change”

To: Monit Number 25332
מספר רשו׳ 93-580-26
29.04.19 NATBAG

I am Olah. It’s been less than a week since I tweeted and posted at Facebook – the beauty of Israel about the Yemenite taxi cab driver who invited his passenger to seder. She blogged about here at TOI.

Thus, it is with deep regret that I post the absolute worst about taxi drivers. Here’s what happened.

I went to Natbag with my children, who had came for Pesach to send them off with love for their return to New York. They had a 12:20 a.m. flight on ELAL. The airport was a zoo. Ok. I could handle that.

Then I went to take the train back to Tel Aviv. There was no train for one hour as it was after midnight even though it was at the end of the khag. Okay I thought I could handle that.

So I went to get a taxi by standing in line. The worker gave me a slip of paper with the above cited license number and cab number.

The driver then gave me the usual spiel – “do you want the meter or the price?” I said the meter – hoping that it would be more just. Ok – so maybe I should have asked for the price. Forgive me, I was tired and exhausted at the age of 71.

We get to Bograshov Tel Aviv where I live. I see that it is something like 135 NIS. Ok I could handle that – fairly reasonable. I give him 200 Nis and he started to complain to me about how he didn’t have any change.

Yesh Gevul! There is a limit:

I want to know:

1. Why is it that the taxi drivers never have any change? This has repeatedly happened to me and dozens if not thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of other passengers.

2. Why is it that we can’t pay with a credit card or debit card in this day and age?

But now it gets worse.

First the driver does not stop complaining and talking. I couldn’t even get a word in edgewise.

Then this driver told me to go out on to the street and start asking people for change at 1 am! I told him in Hebrew that it was not my job and that I was the customer. He didn’t want to hear the truth.

So this driver then told me that I would have to go with him and to find a place on the street for him to get change. The closest was AM/PM at Bograshov and Pinsker. I didn’t feel safe with this idea.

He then made a haste illegal turn on Bugrashov that terrified me.

Then he wanted me to stay in his taxi while he went into get change. Instead, since I did not feel safe at this point, I got out of the taxi and followed him into the store. He bought a pack of cigarette and handed me 50 Nis. He did not give me the exact change which I was entitled to. He was enraged.

Since I did not feel safe to get back into his taxi cab, I had to walk home. Thus he never really drove me to my destination as was the agreement when I got into his taxi at Natbag.

He was screaming at me and I wound up yelling at him which is very unlike me.

I turn now to the Israel Port Authority. I ask: Why is it that you can’t demand that the taxi company have credit card machines in all taxis just like they have in New York City and most of the other major cities around the world? Obviously and this is not rocket science – the taxi cab company offers horrible service and has a monopoly at the airport. To the best of my knowledge Gett is not permitted to work there. With Gett you pay with a credit card!

Isn’t it time for our start-up nation to come to the taxi stand at Natbag and clean up this dirty little secret that appears to be harmless but it has nickeled and dimed hundreds of thousands of passengers to death.

One wonders too how many thousands of shekels have not been paid in taxes because of this scam which leads to further corruption. Okay so we live in the Middle East, still we can do better and have a safer taxi cab experience.

About the Author
Dr Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin is a fellow at The American Center for Democracy and a psychoanalyst with a PhD in Aljamía (Old Spanish in Arabic script). She is author of 'The Banality of Suicide Terrorism,' also in Hebrew; Penetrating the Terrorist Psyche and The Maternal Drama of the Chechen Jihadi.
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