Lebanese man's terrifying experience with Belgrade cabbie
Kamal El-Zein, a Lebanese man who recently visited Belgrade, claims a taxi driver charged him RSD 9,000 (EUR 73) for a 5-kilometer ride.Source: Vecernje novosti
El-Zein hailed the cab at DG Beton, with the Metropol Palace Hotel as his destination - but when he refused to pay the exaggerated fare - the driver "locked him up, and threatened him - until he got his money."
"When we arrived at the hotel, he stopped near the sidewalk and pressed the taximeter button... RSD 9,000! That's how much I had to pay! I laughed out loud and told him, look, man, we drove an RSD 400-worth - what the hell is this? I'll give you 500," the Lebanese recounted his experience for Belgrade's Vecernje Novosti newspaper, and continued:
"I reached for my pocket, took out a 500 bill, and moved to open the door and leave the car. In a split second, he reached for his door and started yelling. I didn't see what he was doing and thought he would grab a pistol or a knife to threaten me. He was locking the doors! He locked them and stepped on the gas, through a red light. He quickly took us away from the hotel, yelling in Serbian and in English."
"I started yelling, too, asking him to stop, saying I would pay, so he suddenly stopped and said, 'go on, then, pay up, pay up!," El-Zain described his experience.
"I took out RSD 2,000 from my pocket, gave him the money, told him this was more than enough, and tried to open the door. Again, same thing - he stepped on the gas, shouted, the works. Now we were in a dark back alley. There was nobody around and I was more and more in a state of panic! Again I yelled at him to stop, again he hit the brakes - I took out an extra RSD 2,000, hoping I might see where the car's lock was," the Lebanese visitor said, adding:
"This time I quickly grabbed the lock, unlocked the car, got out and started running, thinking the guy won't stop his car in the middle of the street to run after me, having already taken RSD 6,500!"
But - the Belgrade cabbie did run after him - shouting all the while.
"The street was dark and long, so I had to stop and shout back... I threw another RSD 2,000 back at him and said: do what you will, that's all I've got. He then stopped and said everything was fine... 'you, brother, can have a discount!' I started running toward the hotel. I was thinking, I just bought back my life for RSD 9,000, and how nothing was worth getting stabbed or injured for," El-Zein said.
And despite the ordeal, the daily reported - the Lebanese guest said he would "come back" to Serbia's capital city:
"I must note that all this happened during one of the most beautiful weekends of my life, that I had a great time and enjoyed my time with our fantastic Serbian hosts! Excellent food, beautiful restaurants, exciting night life, wonderful people, and an incredibly beautiful city. I would come back!"
Recently, there have been reports in the Serbian language press about illegal taxi drivers creating serious problems in Belgrade, charging up to RSD 5,000 for a short ride from the capital city's Branko's Bridge to the Skadarlija district - and also, "occasionally beating up somebody."