Because That's NOT The Way It Is
So, new year, new you, right? Being in Paris I’ve realized that a lot of people here are or have become disillusioned, frustrated and accept the status quo. I’ve never been this way and continue to challenge the norm so always found it confusing. Well, want to tell you about a personal experience I had recently returning from some holiday travel…
I arrived to CDG last week after some holiday travel. Doing this many times, I’m used to the dog and pony show which is the illegal gypsy car drivers trying to snatch you up before reaching the actual Taxi line. This time was different.
As I approached the taxi door in terminal 2F, there were about four men standing there obstructing the exit. After I brushed them off and said I was fine one of them said that this was the wrong exit for taxis going to Paris and directed me to door 16. I honestly didn’t believe them since there were no other airport signs indicating other taxis, but figured I could just exit from the next door so I didn’t have to deal with them. Funny thing, all the doors leading to door 16 (the very last door in the terminal) were not in use. I didn’t think about it then, but am pretty sure these men obstructed the doors with objects so it appeared that you could not exit them. It was a long walk and I had 2 pieces of luggage so I turned back half way and tried to go back through the original door. When I returned, the same man was there directing another traveler to the other door. When he saw me trying to re-exit through the taxi door, he blocked me and said that I was at the wrong exit and needed to walk to door 16. Normally, I would have just pushed through or alerted someone, but this was a deserted part of the airport that evening—there were 4 of them inside; one of them outside, directing the line, no cops, no airport security, and the line wasn’t long so the nearest traveler was not even close. Not sure what their usual traffic is, but these criminals did their homework and knew they could make a killing from unsuspecting travelers that night and other times when that area wasn’t under any supervision.
I had no other choice but to continue to door 16. Once I arrived there, there were 2 more men pretending to be official taxi drivers. Luckily, they were not violent because this story could have gone in a whole other direction. I basically just said “This is bullsh*t and you are all assholes.” and stormed back to the original taxi line from the outside of the airport. I finally got back to the ONLY line at the terminal and let the man pretending to direct the line that what they are doing is wrong and I would report them. His response “You are older than 18; you should have followed the other people.” I wanted to shout back “You assholes wouldn’t let me through the door.” I decided not to engage—again, this area was not monitored. The closest person was the official taxi attendant putting people into cabs at the front of the line. The worst part—when I finally got my cab, I saw other travelers waiting outside door 16 for their illegal gypsy cabs. It’s not right that these unsuspecting people were being taken advantage off and probably charged 3x the normal cost of cab to Paris.
Just because I couldn’t report the situation right then and there, I knew I needed to do something about it. On my drive home, I posted in one of my trusty expat groups to make sure I was contacting the right people. What I got instead was a lot of frustration and a lot of angst. There were some people writing that no one would do anything, “Its the French Way… that’s the way it is”. BUT the most disturbing thing for me to read was a fellow American who had his place robbed and even provided pictures of the incident and the police did NOTHING. That is absurd that justice is ignored in this country. After seeing this, I wasn’t going to rest on the situation. I’ve never been the type of person to let something go and it wasn’t going to change here.
What you Can Do
Here are the following things you can do if you ever encounter a problem or illegal activity at the airport.
Use Social Media
Whether it is to get support or information regarding your situation, forums are extremely valuable and 99% of the time someone else has experienced it too. They can direct you to the right government agency or group or just provide a lot of emotional support.
Another great use is to contact the place of business or government agency you have the issue with. Every business in this day and age has a social media account to keep their business relevant since they know (or are coming to realize) that we, the people, create their brand story, not them. Think about it—every business is a service industry these days. If we don’t like the service, we go somewhere else. This is the same for travel, especially with the riots happening every Saturday in Paris. If I were a tourist and heard that the police and airport did not care about my safety, I would choose another destination like Madrid or London—Paris is no longer as attractive as it used to be. Bottom line—France needs our business and if other stories like this become more visible that are not being dealt with, their economy will suffer.
I would send their page a message first with your issue. I like giving people the benefit of the doubt that they have good intentions in making society better. Most times I have done this, they have responded immediately or within 12 hours. If they do not respond, I would post on their public wall or tweet at them to get their attention faster. No one, including the French, likes bad publicity. And don’t knock it till you try it—once an airline lost my luggage and after many frustrating calls with customer service and the luggage delivery service, I publicly tweeted at the airline—long story short, it was resolved immediately. Remember, a tweet can last forever, your frustration doesn’t.
Report it to the Airport
The Paris airport does have a website where you can report a complaint. You fill out an online form which takes less than five minutes. Someone will contact you after to get more details about your complaint. Someone from the airport did reply to me within 12 hours of my complaint. I am still waiting on someone from customer relations to provide further follow-up.
Pro-Tip: Also message them on their facebook page. Since we live in an omni-channel world, you never know who will get back to you first. In my case, they FB messaged me quicker than they emailed me.
Report it to the Police
Fun Fact if you didn’t already know this—gypsy cabs are illegal, so you are perfectly within your right to report this to the police. You send a claim to the department of the government in charge of the taxis via this link. This too, takes less than five minutes, so you really have no excuse—you can do this in your uber, or on the metro on your commute to work. If you are not in situation like mine where the airport is mostly empty, you can report it right then and there to the airport police.
Simply, follow-up. If they say they are reviewing and getting back to you, shoot them an email. If they are being unresponsive, blast it on social media and document it via video or photography. Think about it this way, you are helping the overall global community. Even if this doesn’t happen to you, it may happen to a close friend, a member of your family, or a friend of a friend—we need to foster a sense of community and improving the world. It is time to stop condoning bad behavior and start standing up for what we believe in.
Think we all need to remember that nothing will change unless we take action. Everyone needs to empower themselves to change the status quo vs accepting it. Just because this blasé attitude may be the French way, doesn’t make it right or your way. It’s time for everyone to RISE UP whether you are an expat, frequent traveler, or a French person tired of the French way, 2019 is the year to make that change. Remember, just because “that’s the way it is”, it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let THIS happen to you or anyone else.