Monday, July 12, 2010

Airport taxi service swindle

My sisters arrived Saturday night in the most stressful circumstances. I was so annoyed that we had no one to pick them up. We would both be working Saturday night so we had to find out about taxi services, since the last bus was at 8.10pm from the airport, and they would not make the last train from Catania to Messina. The agencies all quoted €140. Megabucks. The bus costs €12!

I phoned the agency Garage delle Isole to see if their minibus might be picking up others on Saturday night and the receptionist said no, but she called on Saturday morning propsing €100. In fact it was SHE who called to suggest a taxi for €100. So the girls accepted.

But the girls were delayed getting their baggage, of course we are talking about Catania airport. SO they said the driver was calling them and seemed a bit agitated about the delay. Then half way into the journey I got urgent calls from my sisters. They said the agency had called, three times in Italian and then once in English, a lady telling them they would have to pay more because of the delay. They said that was not mentioned in the agreement and so the lady calmly said she would have the driver leave them at the side of the road. I called the agency to find out what was going on, and the owner was incredibly rude. He had some cock-and-bull story about calling my sister from 6pm to say the car wasn’t available anymore, but how he then managed to find another car – as if to say he was doing us a huge favour. I said I wasn’t interested in how many cars he had; but it was an absurdity to call my sister who was obviously in flight at 6pm, especially when he had my number and I speak Italian and live in Milazzo, whereas my sister, apart from being airborne, speaks only English. Also, had I known at 6pm that they could no longer provide the service, then I could have called another company. This was obviously part of their scheme, even though it makes little sense. He put the phone down.

I called back and he started roaring about how I obviously have no idea, signora, but this trip from Catania airport to Milazzo costs €240 usually. I said well that’s funny because all the other agencies quoted the same price, €140 and I chose you because you offered the lower price on the day and also because my parents had used their minibus service to the airport a few weeks previously without hitches. But i was talking to myself again. The rude man had hung up again!

In the meantime the taxi driver called me and reassured me he would bring the sisters safely to me (they told me after he was doing 150km/hr at times) and I said I would sort things with the agency. He sounded very kind on the phone so I knew I could trust him.

I phoned the agency back and said So are my sisters on their way to me then? And the man (the owner) replied – the taxi driver isn’t answering his phone any more because I have told him to leave the two girls at the side of the road. Comic value comes through now, but at the time I was raging. I said very good, I have the police below my house (they were doing checks on cars), I’ll just send them straight down to you. And I’ll report you tomorrow, and will give you bad press from now on. And what a terrible first impression you have given to two tourists arriving in your country.

So watch out people! This agency, based in Milazzo, is called Garage delle Isole.

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