I Hate Taxis
Taxis are supposed to be a luxurious form of travel. You call them, they show up to your house, they take you exactly from your front door to the front door of wherever you’re going. They’re more expensive than almost every other method of getting around in a city. (Probably only hiring a private driver is more expensive.) But the idea is that you might be willing to pay for them because they’re so easy. You don’t have to figure out where you’re going – you just get in, and the driver deals with everything else. You can relax. Oh … unless you’re concerned that your taxi driver might try to rip you off, in which case you have to come prepared with information, keep your wits about you, and watch the guy like a hawk.
Scams that I personally have seen:
- Bill swap: Hand the guy a 50, he swaps it for a 5 and tells you that you didn’t give him enough money. Make sure you know what the currency looks like in the country you’re visiting. Do any of the bills look similar? Don’t let the driver rush you, take your time getting out of the car, count your money carefully before you hand it over, and be sure you know exactly what you handed him. We’ve had this happen in Rome and Turkey. In Rome it was late at night and we were exhausted. Ryan and I both contributed money, and in the end we weren’t sure exactly what we had given him. In Turkey, the guy was lightening fast, and some of the bills looked similar.
- No meter: Know before you go… but there’s pretty much always a meter, and they should always be using it. Make sure it’s on. Don’t be afraid to ask. I’d love to be polite and trust everyone, but too many people have tried to screw me. I have had taxi drivers get annoyed … but that’s ok, I’ve had taxi drivers annoy me too. So, it evens out.
- Wrong Meter Rate: In Rome it’s tariffa 2 outside the GRA, and 1 everywhere else … always. At night, in the day, etc. ALWAYS. Watch the meter, make them change it. If you can’t see which tariff, ask them. We’ve had guys hang cables over the tarif, put black tape over it … etc. It’s amazing. aMAZing.
- High Starting Fare: Most taxis have a starting fare. In Rome it’s about 3 euro during the day and about 5 at night. (Unless you call them to pick you up, in which case they charge from when you call.) We’ve gotten in to a taxi that was waiting on the side of the road, and it already had a huge fare on it. We were at a museum in Jerusalem, a little out of town, and coincidentally the meter already said the whole fare that it costs to get from the city to the museum. The guy tried to claim it was normal because it was the Sabbath – but fortunately we had been warned about exactly that scam. We literally got out of the cab when he refused to fix it. There were no cabs in sight, and he probably just succeeded in getting someone else to pay the fare.
- Sharing Cabs: We have gotten to the airport before and had to share cabs. Sometimes there literally aren’t cabs around, or they’re striking, etc. Awesome. Usually they try to charge everyone in the cab the full rate. Ha!
- Fixed Fares: In Rome there is a fixed fare from the airport to w/in the city. Sometimes I argue with the taxi driver – sometimes I just get out of the cab, get all my bags, and then hand him the correct fare, nevermind what the meter says.
- Circuitous Routes: In a new city … what can you do about this? Not too much. Ask at your hotel before you leave how much it should cost to get to point A/B. And … you know … hope.
- No change: Hand them a bill larger than the fare … wait for change … and the driver says he has no change. Take the bill back … and hand them something that’s less than the fare. See what happens. You can also have them go into a store to get change. You’d be surprised what they manage to find in your vehicle.
- Extra charges: charges for bags, or to go to the train station, for a fifth person, etc. If you can go with info in advance, or get a run down at a TI … you’ll be better prepared to argue this one.
Below are a couple of resources with information on Rome taxi rates … all of which I’m pretty sure are about to change in July: