Taxis in Sofia: Impostors Now Have Exact Copies of “O.K. Taxis”

Written by on February 28, 2017 in Bulgaria - No comments

The taxi mafia in Sofia, which has been controlling part of the business, cheating customers and hurting legitimate taxi companies for decades, is becoming even cockier. Now even “experts” can hardly tell the difference between a real “O.K. Taxi”, which would be part of the largest taxi company in town, and a fake one, which will rip people off.

Yesterday, on Monday, at around 17:30 hrs., a taxi stopped at a taxi rank (which Americans would call a cab stand) on Vitosha Boulevard in Sofia, Bulgaria, between Ul. Alabin and Ul. Pozitano. Sure, there are thousands of taxis. And to anyone not very familiar with taxis in the Bulgarian capital, this might not sound like a news story, so far. But it is.

That is because a few things were wrong with this particular taxi, shown on the photo:

>> It had the “O.K. Taxi” logo on its doors. This was not a bad copy of the kind we have seen for many years, but it was the exact same logo.

>> Instead of “O.K. Супертранс” (“O.K. Supertrans”), it said “O.K. Супертаим” (“O.K. Supertaim”), a variant not seen before.

>> The phone number under the logo was not 973-2121, which is the “O.K. Taxi” number, but one digit was different: 373-2121. This kind of cocky copy has not been seen before either.

>> Real “O.K. Taxis” usually do not stop at taxi ranks, at least not this one, which is mostly frequented by taxis whose drivers intend to cheat their customers.

>> The vehicle itself was the best copy of an “O.K. Taxi” ever seen. It was a 2008 Hyundai Sonata, which the “O.K. Taxi” company used a lot and partially still does. Also, the car had exactly the same kind of credit card ad “O.K. Taxis” used to have. It is very likely this vehicle actually was an “O.K. Taxi” until it was either stolen or purchased by the taxi mafia.

>> This mafia taxi’s number plate looked suspicious as well: CA 5662 XH. The car has not been driving around as a mafia taxi for very long. Otherwise it would have been seen by the “experts” mentioned before. At the same time, if this car had been registered recently, it would have had the letters CB on its number plate, instead of CA.

This sighting, along with accounts from other expats on pretty much the same kind of fake taxi, suggests that taxi customers should watch it even more than before. As an example, a taxi trip from the parliament building in the city center to Sofia Airport would usually be 10 to 14 Leva, (5 to 7 Euro) depending on the traffic. In a mafia taxi, it can easily be 100 Leva (50 Euro). Also, riding mafia taxis might not be safe, since they might not have insurances, and neither the cars nor the drivers might have been checked.

People who have not been to Bulgaria might ask themselves: How come the authorities do not stop impostors? Excellent question. The reason: They are most likely being bribed. An anonymous source told this publication, fake taxis present at the airport paid the police 10 Leva (5 Euro) per day and vehicle, but this information is not confirmed.

So, this would be the right advice for using taxis is Sofia:

>> Make sure the phone number under the logo on the vehicle’s doors is 973-2121.

>> Make sure it says “O.K. Супертранс” (no variation) or use “Yellow” taxis.

>> In order to make sure, order taxis by phone. Dial 02-973-2121 for “O.K. Taxi” or 02-91119 for “Yellow”. From phones registered in other countries, you would have to dial +359-2-973-2121 for “O.K. Taxi” or +359-2-91119 for “Yellow”.

>> When arriving at Sofia Airport’s Terminal 2, walk to the official O.K. Taxi cab stand. Do not accept any taxi on the street.

>> When arriving at Terminal 1, approach the “O.K. Taxi” counter in the arrivals building.

By Imanuel Marcus



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