Dealing With Taxi Drivers
Travel anywhere in the world will likely involve a ride in a cab and there will be some discussion with the taxi cab driver on where you want to go and the payment. We at IHateTaxis.com have put together a page of tips and advice for dealings with taxi drivers just about anywhere in the world.
Before You Depart
- Get to know your taxi driver before entering the cab. Usually your driver will assist you with your luggage, so this is the opportune time to say hi. Remember that the two (or more) of you will be sharing the car for some distance.
- Confirm your destination with the taxi driver. Make sure that they know where you want to go and they know where that is. Sometimes a map from your hotel or details directions help, especially if you are heading to an uncommon location. If your driver does not know how to get where you need to go, either select another taxi that does know or ensure that your driver obtains directions before departing (e.g., have them call someone to find out).
- Memorize or record the taxi number and driver's name (the number may just be on the outside of the taxi). If you are able to get the driver's name then record this as well and of course say 'hi' to him (that way he knows that you know his name should any problems arise).
- Make sure that you have agreed to either a fixed fare or a metered price and the currency to be paid in. Ask if there are any other additional charges that you should be aware of (additional passenger fees, luggage fees, toll fees, airport fees, etc). If you do not agree on the taxi rate or the taxi fare before starting the ride, then this will likely become a disagreement at the end of your cab ride.
- If language is an issue, write down the destination or price. Sometimes spoken English is not understood but written English might be. In many countries you might be negotiating a price with your fingers!
Fixed Fare or Meter?
- If given a choice between a fixed price and meter, pick the one you are most conformable with.
- Fixed prices are more likely to be higher, or possibly a total rip off, but you know exactly what you will pay at your destination and there should be no surprises. Taxi drivers using a fixed price system will always get you to you destination using the shortest and fastest route so they can maximize profit with minimum expense of fuel and time.
- Metered prices are more likely to be lower, but the possibility of a longer route to bump the price exists. Also there might be discussions of additional fees at the end of the trip along with the mystery of what the price will be. If using the meter, one way to reduce stress is to ask the taxi driver what price you should expect to pay at the end of the journey. Asking at your hotel desk is another way to gage prices.
The Taxi Ride
- Watch where you sit as the majority of taxi drivers expect you to sit in the back seat and they are more comfortable with you in the back, so unless you are travelling in a group of 3 or more, please keep your cab driver happy and sit in the back!
- Make sure the meter is started when you leave and keep a very close eye on that taxi meter in the front if you have not negotiated a fixed fare. Do not sleep or anything else.
- Friendly or setup? Some taxi drivers are quite chatty, so you might be asked if you have been to the city before. Use your best judgment and instincts on this one to avoid taking the long route, although more likely you will be given some good information about the city.
- If you have a GPS, pull it out and watch the tracking, especially on a metered fare if you do not know the city. If the cab driver is doing loops then question why and show the GPS track.
- If the negotiated fixed fare is suddenly re-negotiated, stick to your original price. Ignore any confirmation from yourself on the new price. If this becomes a problem then have the taxi driver stop and get out. If you have luggage in the trunk, make sure the taxi driver either gets out and opens the trunk or one person stays inside the cab while the other unloads all luggage. We recommend not paying the driver anything, but this likely will be a discussion.
Discussions and Disagreements with Taxi Drivers
- All of us have had disagreements with taxi drivers, so being a smart traveller you will likely have followed our advice here to reduce potential "uncertainties".
- There are many honest taxi drivers out there, but once in a while you will find someone that likes to take advantage of those that do not understand the system or the currency. Failing to speak the local language or speaking it with an accent will label you as a potential target right away. But scams occur even in your own home town, so be on guard for unhonest drivers that will take advantage of you and your wallet.
- On behalf of the cab drivers out there, they do make their living by driving people around and sometimes they do take quite a bit of abuse or even more from their passengers. Failing to pay, vandalizing, throwing up, and so on in the taxi means that the driver now has to pay to fix your damage plus he will likely lose customers while the damage is being repaired.
- If a taxi driver is very insistent that you have underpaid him (e.g., he follows you into the hotel lobby), then just make sure that you did not short-change him or forget an extra charge (e.g., taxi desk at airport charge or a toll booth). Discussion of the problem in the hotel lobby or other public place will likely help you, not the driver, as people there likely know if a scam is in progress. If there is a translation issue between you and the taxi driver, the hotel desk staff can likely also explain why you are being asked for additional funds.
Some Final Words
Although we have painted a strong picture of dealing with taxi drivers, there are some very helpful and respectful taxi drivers that love their jobs and you will know when you come across one. Being a taxi driver is not an easy job as some passengers are disrespectful or fail to pay their bill. Relationships between passengers and taxi drivers is much a love-hate relationship anywhere you go in the world, so we at IHateTaxis.com are here to try to make this relationship as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Written by Todd Romaine
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