Daily: Rip-off taxi firm masquerading as reputable company ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

A bona fide Tulika taxi at an anti-Uber rally in 2016.
A bona fide Tulika taxi at an anti-Uber rally in 2016. Source: Rene Suurkaev / ERR

Taxi scalpers lurking in the harbor area of Tallinn are posing as drivers from reputable taxi firm Tulika, charging way over the market rate for journeys, daily Postimees reports, with around 20 such vehicles from the same "fake Tulika" firm operating at present.

The issue has fully come to light after Tulika, whose taxis have a distinctive white livery with a yellow-black insignia, received several complaints over the summer, mostly from Finnish visitors to Tallinn, with fares as high as €30 charged for the short trip from the ferry terminal to the city center, a journey that should normally cost around a tenth of that figure with legitimate operators.

The incidents are nothing new; the practice has been common at the harbor and also the Balti Jaam train station for many years, with some drivers obscuring the fare meter while the journey is in progress only for the passenger to be presented with a large bill at the end of the trip, but as awareness of the problem rises, scalpers have started exploiting the Tulika logo in spite of the company's trademark assertions.

The scalping firms justify their actions by saying that small changes to a logo, presumably unnoticed by most potential passengers, completely change the meaning of the logo and so no trademark infringement has been made, Postimees reports (link in Estonian).

Tullika plans to take the matter to court soon, Postimees says, noting that the Municipal Police in Tallinn (Mupo) have long been calling for reform in the city's taxi marketplace, and adding that another major company with a high presence in the harbor area, Tallink Takso, owned by the Tallink ferry group, is potentially even more vulnerable as its yellow color scheme simply cannot be patented.

A precaution so far as taxi users go is to avoid picking up taxis from the street anywhere in Tallinn or Estonia, instead either contacting a reputable firm via a phone call and asking for a price estimate, or downloading the Bolt taxi app, which gives rates in advance. Reputable taxis are legally required to have their tariff, including basic rate and price per kilometer, displayed clearly inside the vehicle. Uber also operates in Estonia.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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