Travellers have been screwed over by Sydney Airport Maxi Taxis/Cabs various times in recent years, if internet forums (and a recent experience by DMARGE) are anything to go by.
Picture this. You wander out of Sydney Airport Arrivals feeling dishevelled, dirty and in need of an extra strong oat flat white. You roll up to the cab rank wanting a no-fuss trip to the office. After the last 24 hours of armrest fights, outlandishly expensive airport beers and flight delays your reserves of patience are on their last wafer.
You get to the front of the queue and the guy who runs the rank directs you to a Maxi. No biggie: you wander over, safe in the knowledge they can only charge you extra if there are five of you. You sit down, settle in, and then a suspicious feeling comes over you: “I think I’m going to get stitched up here.”
You rock up at your destination and get charged $40 for a trip that – for three people – should have only cost $20; maybe $25 bucks. Ouch.
It’s not just us getting sore about this phenomenon though. A little digging revealed we’re not the only ones who have been ripped off by a Maxi Cab leaving from Sydney Airport. A thread on the Australian Frequent Flyer community from 2019 shows much the same complaint being made.
User ‘luxury-lizard’ writes: “We arrived home from Zurich yesterday evening (6pm) with lots of luggage – 2 large suitcases and a ski-bag – at the taxi queue we requested a station wagon (as we always do). The controller directed us to the separate bays for station wagons and/or maxi taxis. Next up was a maxi taxi – on arrival home we were charged the 50% loading for a mxi taxi (so a $65 fare became $100) – we vigorously complained to the driver but he said this is ‘normal’ – all pickups at the airport from the station wagon/maxi taxi bays are now charged as maxi taxis.”
“Now we have done this literally dozens of times when arriving with large bags (not just a ski bag) and never been charged extra. In fact on our way to the airport some 4 weeks ago we booked a taxi requesting a station wagon – a maxi taxi arrived and we were charged the regular fare.”
Another user ‘kpc’ chimed in, writing: “This exact thing happened to me a couple of years ago at Syd airport…..I refused to pay the maxi taxi rate and just paid the normal rate. It is a scam! I now NEVER catch a taxi in Sydney.”
Over on Reddit a similar complaint was made by user ‘u/AndyM03’. He wrote: “Ended up deciding to catch a taxi home from the international airport terminal because my girlfriend was tired and I didn’t want to waste time figuring out where we were allowed to call an uber. Probably wasn’t that complicated but she had just come back from the UK, so was keen to make things easy as possible.”
“We were directed to a big van cab. Not sure if these guys cost extra, was definitely unnecessary and it was just the two of us and only her luggage. Didn’t pay too much attention to the route he took, but the total was $63 to Newtown (Near Marrickville). It was like, 10 to 15 minutes tops.”Reddit user ‘u/AndyM03’
He added: “When we get there, the cabbie informs me the eftpos machine is broken. Of course he didn’t mention this before. So we take our luggage out and luckily the pub is right next door. We drive there together, leaving the girlfriend and he makes a smart ass comment ‘Better say goodbye to her, it’ll be awhile’. So I get him cash. I ask for a receipt and he goes ‘I was doing you a favour, if you want a receipt we need to add GST.’ I think the real total was $63, but I just gave him the $5 I happened to have to get follow up details because I was pretty annoyed.”
Another user, ‘u/angrydave’ chimed in below this story with an enlightening (opinionated) response. He claimed: “Yep, you were ripped off, and this is a common scam.”
‘u/angrydave’ continued with his sweeping, harsh and – in some cases (DMARGE isn’t suggesting every Maxi Cab does this) – probably right analysis: “Maxi-Taxis, the Van ones, attempt to charge the 5+ person rate regardless of how many people are travelling. They should only charge this rate when you actually have a party of 5 or more (not including the driver) travelling.”
“Every time I go there I seem to get directed to one of these, and every time I end up having to ‘Walk away’ back to the dispatcher and ask for a taxi that isn’t charging the Maxi-Taxi rate. He then goes and yells at the driver of the taxi and I end up paying the correct rate and a disgrunted driver for my ride home.”Reddit user ‘u/angrydave’
“It’s been going on for years, and it seems to not be changing. Complain to Sydney Airport, and to the NSW Transport Minister. Take down Plate Numbers and their Public Transport Driver Licence number (both should be clearly displayed). Only way this will change is if we make the Airport and Transport for NSW aware of it.”
He also said you should only be paying the Maxi fare if you have 5+ Passengers, writing: “If you are a 4 or less passengers (2 in your case) the normal Day or Night rate applies,” and providing a quote from the Taxi website: “
“An amount of up to 150% of the regular taxi fare may be charged where the maxi-cab is hired at a rank or hailed on a street and there are 5 or more passengers.”
There you have it. One allegedly common scam to avoid the next time you’re taking a cab from Sydney airport.