Cabbie fired, fined for ripping off Aussies in Vietnam capital

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A Hanoi taxi firm has sacked and fined a driver VND20 million (US$949.58) for charging an Australian couple 10 times what the meter showed for a ride, VnExpress reported Wednesday.

The driver, referred to only as Cuong, had been summoned by Cau Giay District's police the day before, Do Thu Dung, an inspector with Trung Viet Taxi Company, was quoted by the new website as saying.

Dung said his company has apologized to the foreign tourists and gave them back the exorbitant fare Cuong charged them.

On Sunday, David Patrick and Brandi Dawn Burmey hailed a Trung Viet cab in front of the Vietnam Military History Museum on Dien Bien Phu Street and asked to be taken to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology on Nguyen Van Huyen Street.

At the end of the seven-kilometer ride, the meter displayed VND98,000, but the driver handed the couple a bill for VND980,000, the Aussie couple said.

In addition, the bill indicated the cab belonged to the Mai Linh Taxi, not Trung Viet.

The couple, who came to Vietnam for honeymoon, took photos of the meter, the driver and the cab's license plate.

They then showed the photos to employees at the ethnology museum and asked for help, and the employees there reported the case to local police.

The Aussie couple being ripped off represents the third time since April 23 that foreign tourists became the victims of scams in the capital city.

On April 25, staff members of a hotel threatened the lives of three French tourists who announced they were leaving after having been taken there by a taxi driver against their will.

After the tourists reported the incident to police, the hotel employees confessed and agreed to pay VND10 million in compensation.

Earlier, on April 23, Ilona Schultz, an Australian woman traveling with her two children, paid VND1.3 million, more than ten times the normal price, for a five-kilometer cyclo ride. The woman had previously agreed to a fare of VND70,000. The cyclo driver was later fined by police.

The next day, Nguyen Van Tuan, head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism visited Schultz to apologize and return the VND1.3 million.

He pledged to tackle the problems foreign tourists have been encountering of late, which have tarnished Vietnam's reputation as a tourist destination.

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