Wherever you travel in the world, you have probably seen them.
The ‘them’ mentioned here are the unlicensed taxis and seemingly chauffeur-driven limo hire cars that hover around locations such as nightspots, railway stations and sometimes even airports.
At times they’re easy to spot, with their drivers hanging inelegantly out of the window saying the equivalent of “anyone need a taxi?” or “need a lift?” At other times, they can be rather more difficult to single out from legitimate hire cars, as they may have things such as fake IDs and illuminated taxi signs displayed.
Although the dangers of using such services have long been known, it is a sad fact that one still regularly reads of cases where people have done so and it has led to disaster.
Here are just a quick warning and reminder about why such offers should be ignored.
It is extremely unlikely that a private car owner offering their vehicle for hire and reward will have appropriate insurance cover for themselves, their vehicle or most importantly, their passengers.
If you are involved in an accident whilst in their vehicle, you can probably forget any chances you might think you have for launching an insurance claim. You may be able to sue the individual concerned for damages and misrepresentation but if they have few or no assets, your chances of reaching a successful settlement would be slim bordering zero.
Your personal safety
In some cases, the individuals offering pirate car hire services may well have opportunistic crime on their minds.
There have been cases where passengers have been driven to a secluded spot and robbed of their possessions. The dangers of rape and sexual assault for female passengers are also clear and males are not immune from such risks either.
In such circumstances, fake ids and registration numbers would probably have been used and it would prove exceptionally difficult for the police to trace the individual concerned.
Top tips for avoiding these taxis
Never respond to someone driving slowly past touting for business.
When you are travelling, only pick-up holiday taxis from what are clearly official taxi ranks, populated by numbers of vehicles. In general, legitimately registered taxi drivers come down hard on unlicensed pirates and the latter will normally avoid the risk of close contact with official taxi drivers like the plague.
Pre-book your journey where possible with an official taxi service or use a limo hire company instead. You should be able to easily verify their credentials online beforehand as part of your booking.
If you do need taxi transport at short notice, phone a taxi company or limousine hire company you have already researched previously and ask them to collect you.
It may well be that unpleasant and dangerous incidents are only a tiny percentage of the taxi and hire car use but that fact will be of little consolation if it happens to you.