Tourist Are Prime Targets for Taxi Scams
Use these tips to avoid getting ripped off
If you travel enough, eventually it’s bound to happen. A taxi driver rips you off. The scams can vary from city to city and country to country, but the goal is always the same, to separate you from your cash. This is not to say that all taxi drivers are out to get you, but often it can be difficult to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones. Here are some tips to help you from being an easy target.
Use Authorized Taxi Stands or Lines
Use an authorized or designated taxi stand or line whenever possible, especially at airports and train stations. If someone approaches you in an airport or train station offering you a ride saying that they will give you a special price, then chances are they are not on the up and up. Use the designated taxi stand or line where they will have employees or police there to keep away the scammers.
Have Exact or Close to Exact Change
Make sure you get to know the currency you’ll be using at your destination and make sure that you aren’t carrying just large bills. In some places, if you give the driver big bills, they may give you counterfeit change back. If you can, find out approximately it will cost to get to where you are going and make sure that you have a little more than that in smaller denominations. That may mean using the horrible airport exchange rate, but it’s still better than getting back change that is worthless.
Use the Taxi Recommended By Your Hotel
Before stepping out, get the recommendation for a taxi from your hotel. This may not always be the cheapest company in town, but generally, the hotel will have a favorite that is dependable and trustworthy. It is also a good idea to get a card for the hotel and have them write the number on the back. This way you can use the same company when it’s time to come back, and it can help the driver to get you back if you don’t speak the language or know the area.
Agree to a Price Before You Get Into the Taxi
Sometimes a taxi driver will take you on a long out of the way route to drive up the fare. Other times, the driver may get to the destination, hit a button, and the fare increases from what is on the meter. Sometimes this is legitimate as there may be a surcharge for each additional passenger. But sometimes it’s to get you for a little or a lot of extra cash. If you are can’t find a designated taxi stand and are leery about a driver, then you can try to negotiate a set price with the driver before you get into a taxi. Keep in mind that this may not get you the cheapest price, but at least you know you won’t get a nasty surprise when you reach your destination.
Know Exactly Where You Want to Go
Make sure that know exactly where you want to when it comes time to get into a taxi. Often, you’ll want to get the low down on the area from a local, but you’re better off asking your hotel’s staff or researching on the internet. In some places, taxi drivers get kickbacks from establishments for bringing them customers. This is not always a bad thing, but sometimes they could bring you to someplace you don’t really want to be, or someplace that may not be on the up and up.
Research Taxis Before You Arrive
Some places you visit will only allow certain types of taxis or they will only allow specific companies to operate. Do your research before you arrive. If a taxi doesn’t look like one of the ones that are allowed to operate in that area, then they may not be legit. There could also be certain taxi companies in that area that target tourists. A quick internet search can go a long way to helping you not get ripped off.
Ask For a Receipt
If you do end up in a situation where you’ve arrived at the destination and the price doesn’t seem quite right, ask the driver for a receipt. Most drivers won’t want to leave a paper trail of their wrongdoings, especially if they are not independent drivers and are worried about you speaking to their employer or authorities. Plus, asking for a receipt may avoid getting into a confrontation with the driver.
Hire a Driving Service
Hiring a driving service before you arrive is an excellent idea and could also save you some money. Typically you pay for these services ahead of time, so there isn’t much worry of the driver taking a long way around or jacking up the price on you. Just make sure to tip the driver if it’s customary at that location. Hiring a driving service can save you a lot of time and money as well. Instead of waiting, standing in a line to catch a taxi, or trying to drag luggage around on public transportation, the driver will there where and when you need them. And if you are traveling with a group or have a lot of luggage, hiring a driving service is often cheaper than taking more than one taxi.
Use a Ridesharing App
Using a ridesharing app is another way to avoid being taken advantage of by a taxi driver as the price is set by a third party, there is no incentive for the driver to extend your trip, there is no cash involved, and in many cases cheaper than a taxi. Unfortunately, ridesharing is not available in all areas and most airports don’t allow the drivers to pick you up there. Also, the app that you use in your area may not be available where you are going, so you may need to check before you leave in order to download and set the app up. Ridesharing apps are also great in areas that have a lot of traffic since the price change for wait times is much less than taxis if there is a charge at all.
Track Your Ride with the Navigation on Your Phone
If you are leery of a taxi or driver, track your ride with the navigation on your phone. Keep in mind that the driver most likely knows the roads better than you and may not take the route you’re phone suggest to avoid construction, heavy traffic areas, excessive traffic signals, or any number of things your navigation doesn’t take into consideration.