A growing number of unscrupulous taxi drivers are taking advantage of New Zealand travellers.
Craig Morrison, CEO of Southern Cross Travel Insurance, says the practice of having luggage stolen as part of a taxi ride is one customers should be increasingly on the lookout for.
The stories we hear include:
- Where the taxi takes off the moment the customer gets out of the car, leaving them stranded without their luggage.
- Where the driver unloads the luggage from the car and puts the bags on the ground, only for an accomplice to run by and swipe a bag before the customer can do anything.
- Where the driver offers to load the luggage and insists the passenger takes a seat in the cab while this is done. When the passenger finds some bags are missing at their destination, the driver is ‘shocked’ - of course his buddy has them and there’s no way they can be retrieved.
These are opportunistic thefts and include a mixture of suitcases and carry-on luggage. It’s not just the camera and laptop bags being stolen, but larger suitcases which, at the end of a trip, are likely to be full of new purchases.
According to research carried out last year, Australia is the most popular destination for Kiwi travellers (54%), followed by the Pacific Islands (15%) and countries in Asia (13%) come a very close third.
Until now taxi scams have been most common in Asian countries - India, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Malaysia – but we’ve started to receive claims of this nature from Europe and South America also.
Over the last 12 months SCTI assessors have noticed more claims of this nature being submitted and we urge travellers to stay alert.
As with many aspects of travelling you need to be aware of those looking to take advantage of tourists and protect yourself from scams. When travelling via taxi, we strongly recommend:
- Keep your most valuable luggage with you in the taxi; don’t put it in the boot.
- Personally watch your bags being loaded into the boot.
- Don’t put your luggage in the boot while the driver is behind the wheel, unless a passenger door is open
- Make sure you exit the taxi after the driver and via the door furthest away from the driver. When doing this, leave your door open, which prevents the driver from taking off before you unload all of your bags.