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Prague has an issue with its taxi drivers. They're notorious ripoff artists, as any number of Prague-related travel sites will tell you. It's gotten to the point where the problem is viewed as being detrimental to overall tourism in the city. In response, a local newspaper has been campaigning against the rampant overcharging, and persuaded the mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, to don a tourist disguise and see for himself just how bad the situation has become. Bem decided to pose as an Italian, slicking back his hair, putting on a pair of shades, donning fake facial hair, and generally embracing appearance-based stereotypes that would get an American politician in a heap 'o trouble.

With his costume disguise (shown at right) in place, Bem flagged down a cab and was promptly and massively overcharged. A trip that should have cost him around 4 Euros wound up setting him back 26 Euros! In a second cab, the fare jumped 200% when he offered to pay in Euros instead of the local currency. Suffice to say, he was unhappy with what he saw, and will send more city officials out undercover to see if they have similar experiences. Until then, Bem recommended tourists agree on a fare before getting into a cab. Some of the sites we visited also recommended using the city's public transportation system or call-ahead taxi services, which are usually not a problem. As for combating the problem of dishonest cabbies and rigged meters, we have a suggestion: GPS!

[Source: BBC via Gadling]


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