From Iceland — Sour Grapes And Stuff

Sour Grapes And Stuff

Published April 13, 2012

Sour Grapes And Stuff

Dear Sir or Madam
I want to make a complaint to the Icelandic tourist board, about a practice I encountered on my last visit whereby taxi drivers in Reykjavik start running the meter up early when they are called to pick up customers that are obviously tourists.
Specifically, on the 4th Feb, I asked my hotel to call a taxi to take me to the domestic airport, for 8.15 am. I arrived at the front of the hotel with all my luggage at what I thought was 8.15 am. Once I had loaded my bags and got in the cab I realised the driver had already been running up the meter for a few minutes, it was stating 1700 kr, unlike the usual 500 kr.
I complained to the driver who said that it is company policy to start the meter at exactly the time the taxi is ordered, and I subsequently called the operator who confirmed that this was the case. However, I have been travelling to Iceland for three years and have never encountered this practice before, when I have got taxi’s with local friends. I am certain (and my friends agree) that the meter was run up because I am a tourist.
I am sure that the taxi company would never try and pull this stunt off on a local person because you could
•     reject the ride and just call a different taxi company (there are enough taxi’s driving around the center of Reykjavik)
•     lose trust in the taxi company and avoid using them again.
Overall, I find it rather depressing that tourists are being exploited in this way. Taxi fares are expensive enough in Reykjavik. If the tourist in question realises they’ve been overcharged, it gives a terrible impression of the Icelandic people. You need to act to curtail this.
I really hope you will act on this email
Yours faithfully
Neil Holdsworth
PS: The taxi company in question was Hreyfill. As they are Reykjavik’s biggest taxi firm, I doubt that this practice is confined to this company. 
Dear Neil,
Thank you for sending us a copy of this letter. We just called up Hreyfill and got the lowdown on fares. Are you ready for this?
The metre starts at 600 ISK unless you ordered a taxi for 5-8 people. In that case it starts at 780 ISK. It does not start when the taxi is ordered. It starts the moment the taxi arrives to pick you up. The taxi has a sophisticated computer that charges you per minutes when the taxi is stationary. So if your taxi hits a bunch of red lights or gets held up in traffic, this metre is running. Are you ready for the break down?
After one minute, you pay 135 ISK
Two minutes, 270 ISK
Three minutes, 404 ISK
Four minutes, we didn’t catch what she said for four minutes
Five minutes, 674 ISK
Ten minutes, 1348 ISK
From ten minutes on, you pay every ten minutes…
After twenty minutes, you pay 2695 ISK…
Right, so don’t take a taxi during Gay Pride.
Now, of course you also pay per kilometer. During the daytime hours 8AM to 5PM, you pay 299 ISK for the first kilometer and 187 ISK/km thereafter. During nighttime hours 5PM to 8AM, you pay 372 ISK for the first kilometre and 247 ISK/km thereafter.
Wow. We hope that helps. Unless you spent ten minutes fixing your hair before coming downstairs it sounds like you were scammed. That’s totally lame.
Our sincerest condolences,

My partner and I had the pleasure of coming to Iceland for the first time a couple of weeks ago and absolutely loved your country.
However when doing research and reading local press such as your own publication, I was surprised at the height of negativity within Iceland press about yourselves and the current financial crisis.
Think everyone appreciates how tough the global economies are right now and whilst its always good to use lessons learnt about our prior attitudes, I think sometimes its too easy to focus on the bad.
And seriously what a fantastic experience we had. We were made to feel welcome right from the start – Iceland Air is a credit (especially compared to other national airlines and I am a frequent flyer) but throughout our stay – the taxi driver, the hotel staff, the tour guides, the restaurant staff, fellow drinkers in the bars and everyone is just so friendly, helpful and chatty – certainly not the case in London! The geological wonders are obvious but you have so much more and should remember this, celebrate this and make sure you can do all you can to keep this.. the negativity should be kept in reality to ensure such a situation doesn’t happen again but again you need to remind yourselves not everything is doom and gloom
Looking forward to coming back!
Warm Regards
Dear Shaun,
We’re really happy that you had such a great time in our country. And we’re glad that you didn’t get Neil’s taxi driver. And you’re right. All this negativity can be exhausting and we should keep in mind that it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s only been overcast and rainy here for the last THREE MONTHS straight! Oh… there we go being all negative again. No wonder we’re no longer the happiest people in the world.
While we could do with some more positivity, we certainly don’t want to report exclusively on Icelanders spotting Merlins eating small birds. If we did that, who knows what our politicians and bankers and other authorities would get up to…
Anyways, do come back and say hello next time!
The Grapevine

Hello Anna,
You can write very nice,last you told me you eat only natural products,but now you eat pizza and spagetti, I think you are getting fat from pizza,now it is 18 degrees in holland, you can wear your bikini and make bikini foto’s, If you have less time it is not neccessary to e-mail me each day,I can wait some days.In Holland we have financial crises,people don’t buy clothes,how is that in your clothing store,is it busy,do many people buy clothes? Your e-mails are not boring, I like them.
Greetings Hans,
Thank you for your letter. It was not entirely boring.
Someone tweeted this the other day: “Never buy a pizza from Iceland….Never!!! Fookin’ rank!” They must be talking about that grocery store. The pizza here is all right. We get Gamla Smiðjan at the office every once in a while. We’re pretty into letter N but sometimes we order V. It depends on how we feel at the time. And then sometimes we order a 2-litre coke to go with it.  People probably still buy clothes. At least most people don’t walk around naked and the stores are mostly still standing.

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