Cyclo driver takes Australian tourists for a ride

TN News

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The Hanoi police on Wednesday arrested a cyclo driver for overcharging an Australian woman more than ten times the normal fare for a five-kilometer drive.

40-year-old Pham Van Chieu admitted that he charged Ilona Schultz and her two children VND1.3 million ($62.2) to take them from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to Hang Trong Street.

Schultz told news website VnExpress that the driver had agreed to take them to the water puppet theater on Dinh Tien Hoang Street for VND70,000 (US$3.3) on Tuesday.

But Chieu took them to Hang Trong instead of Dinh Tien Hoang and demanded  VND1.3 million, she said.

Schultz said she gave the driver a VND200,000 note but he refused it, demanding more. Finally, she had to give him three more notes of the same denomination and one VND500,000 note.

She said she agreed to pay the exorbitant fare because she was afraid the driver would cause further trouble.  

Schultz, a tourist who has visited Hanoi several times, said she always used the cyclo to round the capital city, and had always found friendly drivers who charged reasonable rates.

Do Anh Thu, director of the Sanssouci Cyclo Company, said that the culprit was an unregistered cyclo that had faked his company's brand.

There are around 200 registered cyclos in Hanoi belonging to three companies and all have license plates, he said, adding that the faked cyclo that Schultz took doesn't have a plate.

Thu said drivers usually charge between VND70,000-100,000 for a drive from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to the water puppet theater.

The Dien Bien Ward Police Division said Wednesday Chieu had pledged to return the money to the Australian tourist.

He said he had demanded the money because he was tired of biking in the sun.

Dao Ngoc Minh, Dien Bien Ward chief police, said his agency has invited the victim to identify Chieu, who has been handed over to the Hang Trong Ward Police for investigation.

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