Radio taxi firms are arbitrarily setting prices

If you book a taxi to take you to the airport or to the port of Rafina, the taxi meter is often turned off – an arbitrary and of course illegal practice by the largest radio taxi firms in Attica. Charges range from 25-40 euros per journey, according to how long each firm considers the distance to be. Passengers who dare to complain are often told (wrongly) that the destination is outside the city’s «perimeter.» The reason this situation has been allowed to continue is – apart from the lack of state control – the lack of complaints lodged by the public. Many readers have called Kathimerini recently alleging that when they phone a radio taxi firm to book a cab to Rafina, Lavrion, the airport, or even hospitals in the suburbs, they are told there is a fixed price ranging from 20 to 40 euros. When Kathimerini called some of these firms, it received the same reply. In one case, where the phone call was made from the newspaper’s land line, the radio taxi firm’s telephonist realized where the call was from and backed off, saying, «I meant that it will probably cost about 35 euros!» «This practice is illegal,» said Lefteris Terzakis, the vice president of the Attica Taxi Owners’ Union (SATA). «The legal surcharge for a booking is 2.50 euros, with another 3 euros for journeys to and from the airport, 0.80 for a port, train or bus station, and 0.30 euros for each piece of luggage.» The argument that the port of Rafina is «outside the perimeter» (that is, the area in which a single charge is levied) is false. As an example, some of the boundaries of the perimeter are on the Athens-Corinth highway after the Aghios Stefanos intersection, the Athens-Corinth highway after the Mandra intersection, the coastal highway after Varkiza beach, the Mesogeia plain after the boundary of the municipality of Kalyvia, and in Nea Makri after the Nea Voutsa intersection. So Rafina and the airport, for example, are actually within the perimeter. Terzakis claims that although illegal in theory, the stance taken by the radio taxi firms is not really unfair. «The truth is that driving to an appointment involves delay and a loss of income. The radio taxi firms believe that the legal surcharges are not enough. Similar statements were made by those firms Kathimerini spoke to. The only way to stop this from happening – since the State does not enforce the law – is for passengers to report these incidents. According to SATA, reports can be lodged at any police station; the police are then obliged to refer the charge to the relevant disciplinary council at the Athens prefecture.