One of the things that I hear expats complaining about a lot is the issue of taxi drivers ripping people off. Not putting the meter on, trying to charge 1200 ALL for trips from Crystal Centre to Blloku, and refusing to issue receipts are all par for the course so I think it is time that I set the record straight on a few facts.
First of all, by law taxi drivers are obliged to put on the meter when you get in the taxi, most do not. Be sure to demand that your driver does so, or alternatively come to an agreement on price before you depart. If you do not, then you are more than likely to get ripped off when you arrive at your destination.
If you agree not to switch the meter on, you are breaking the law as well as the driver. Also be advised that if you do not take a receipt, again you are both breaking the law. But here is something interesting; if the driver fails to issue you with a proper receipt, by law you are not obliged to pay him.
Yes, that is right. If your taxi driver tries to charge you a ridiculous price, or deliberately takes the wrong way around Tirana, or cannot or will not give you a receipt you do not have to hand over any money whatsoever. In situations such as this, I will usually pay a standard fare of 300 ALL and tell him to be on his way- you are completely within your rights to do this.
A legal receipt should include a NUIS number and if it does not include this, as well as the date, hour, and address, then it is not valid and you are not required to honour the total.
But this doesn’t just apply to taxis- there are a number of bars and restaurants in Tirana and other parts of the country that will issue written receipts without this information. There are also some well known establishments in the city that issue what LOOKS like a proper receipt but does not include the NUIS number- without this number, the bill is not valid.
When you are in a bar or restaurant and you ask for the bill, you must always check the receipt for this number. Whilst it may look like a proper receipt, take a close look and make sure that the tax number is present- if it is not present, you are within your rights to request a correct one- if they do not oblige, you can walk away without paying and be on the right side of the law.
Just as a rough guide- if you choose not to use the meter in a taxi, then you should not be paying any more than 400 ALL in the centre or 500 ALL for outskirts and suburbs.Follow The Balkanista!