Many taxi cab drivers will try to rip off travelers. (Hey, sometimes the obvious thing needs to be said.) Getting nicked for a few bucks isn’t a big deal, but being conned by a cabbie can ruin one’s impression of a destination.
No national or international organization tracks statistics on cab scams, and many drivers are surely honest. That said, we all know that each and every city in the world has its unscrupulous drivers. Case in point: In 2010, authorities in New York City had to arrest 59 cabdrivers who were busted ripping off passengers for more than 70,000 rides over the years, with up to 2,000 cabbies accused of intentionally conning customers at one time or another.
To avoid getting “taken for a ride—literally—follow the following precautions.
1. Before you reach your destination, ballpark how much your airport cab ride should cost. Ask friends, check a guide book, or look at the lists of typical route rates on Taxi Prices or Price of Travel.
2. Before you leave the airport, get local currency in small bills and coins. A common ruse by cabbies is to claim they don’t have the change to break large bills, prompting you to overpay.
3. Download free apps to help you look up licensed cabs on the fly. For example, Taxi Magic works in more than 25 US cities (free, iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Palm; taximagic.com).
4. Only take licensed taxis. These are regulated and require drivers to show a license with a photo. The riskiest rides are with drivers who hang out at airports without official identification. Some of these have extorted passengers for hundreds of dollars, holding their luggage hostage.
5. Agree to a price before you get into the car. And make sure it includes your whole group and the cost of luggage, not per person.
6. Look at a map ahead of time if you're going somewhere complicated. When a driver has a wide choice of routes, he or she may be tempted to take you the long way around to puff up the fare. One way to avoid this ruse is to show the driver the route you would like to follow on a map. This move can be a polite way of showing that you know where you’re going and how long the trip should take without overtly antagonizing the cabbie.
7. Don’t insult the cabbie by accident. If you assume the worst from the start, you may insult the cabbie, which can create its own problems.
Have tips of your own? Please share them with other readers by posting a comment!
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