Like every other city in India, Bangalore too suffers from exploitation at the hands of merciless auto drivers, who are always looking out to make an extra buck.
The auto drivers have tested and tried every trick in the book to dupe customers. But their most annoying tactic is to agree to take the customer to a particular destination, fix the price and soon after the journey begins, claim that they don’t know the route.
This is a common problem which every second person on the street claims to have faced it at some point or the other. Jayashree Ramababu, a homemaker, is frustrated with the recurrence of this problem.
“The same autorickshaw drivers, who refuse to drop you off to a nearby area, will gladly agree to take you to a distant point that they might not have heard of. Despite being asked repeatedly whether they are familiar with the location, they refuse to admit their lack of familiarity with the area and speak with such conviction that you believe them,” shares Jayashree.
“The cat is out of the bag only once you reach the place you don’t recognise. The auto drivers will deny having ever said that they knew the exact location and take you for a ride, quite literally. If this is the case with us locals, I shudder to think of the plight of outsiders who can’t speak the language,” she adds angrily.
Whether they take wrong turns on purpose or keep stopping to ask for directions, the meter is still running and it is the customer who suffers by paying a higher fare than he or she ought to. For the auto driver, it’s just the same dirty game being played with a new target.
“Auto drivers here are pathetic! They say they know the route and take you
around in circles — a fact you discover only when you travel to the same place often. It’s one honest guy in ten that takes you the right way,” says Jolene Fernandes, who recently moved to the City.
The question of safety also comes in when you’re in the auto alone and unsure of where you are or where the driver is taking you, — especially if you’re a woman and travelling at night.
In such situations, the best thing to do is to note down the details of the auto driver from the display card and keep someone informed of your whereabouts. What commuters need to realise is that they have the power to stop this exploitation. Rangaswamy, inspector of police, M G Road, explains what one can do if faced with this issue.
“90 per cent of the auto drivers in Bangalore know the route. But if they claim they don’t, misbehave or demand extra fare, the customer can complain to the traffic cop on the road, to the control room, through SMS, on Facebook or on our website. We’ll act upon the complaint and take action against the driver,” informs the inspector.
“There is no provision for a licence to be revoked for not knowing the route. But a driver’s licence can be suspended if there are three offences registered against him,” he adds.
The next time this happens to you, ensure that you do not adopt an attitude of
indifference and register that complaint.
Even if it doesn’t help you directly, it might just prevent a fellow citizen from facing the same annoying situation someday.