How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Taxi Drivers
Sitting in the back seat of a taxi in Fez, Morocco, I knew we were about to be scammed. We had already negotiated a price, but sure enough, about 10 minutes into the ride he informed us that he was going to drop us off way outside of the medina, where he’d agreed to drop us just a few minutues before. He would take us to our hotel, but obviously it would cost us a bit more. Here are some things I tried (and some things I thought up to try next time) to ensure that we only paid what we originally agreed, maybe you can use them next time you’re about to be ripped off by a taxi driver.
Take a photo of the licence plate (or claim that you did)
The Moroccan taxi driver started to get angry that his scam wasn’t working (actually it wasn’t even a taxi, I’m pretty sure it was just some guy in a car looking to make some extra cash). Fearing we might be driven to some back alley to get our organs prepped for the black market, I told him that I’d taken a photo of his licence plate before we got into the car and sent it to a friend. I’m almost 100% sure he wouldn’t have actually tried to harm us, but it’s nice to have him think that he’d probably be going to jail if he did.
Befriend the driver
If you’re in a taxi and you’re worried you might get ripped off, it can’t hurt to be extra nice to the driver. He hasn’t done anything wrong yet, and you want to keep it that way. Ask about his family, find out more about the city you are in, talk about football – just find any common ground you can.
Hint at repeat business
You’re far less likely to be ripped off by taxi drivers if they think there’s a chance of getting more money out of you at a later date. Ask him for a business card and say that you might need a driver during your stay, and since he seems really honest you’d like it to be him. Don’t make any promises, but it might turn out handy anyway, as good taxi drivers are hard to come by.
Find out how much the fare should be
It’s pretty tough to get a taxi driver to use the meter in a lot of places (it’s nearly impossible in Bangkok, especially if you’re as pale as I am), so it’s a good idea to find out how much your fare should be. Drivers will usually try and charge you at least twice what it should be, but if you know the right price and you claim to have done the trip before, they’ll usually give up on trying to fleece you.
Don’t take taxis
It’s unavoidable in a lot of places, but if there are sufficient public transport options then I’d recommend using them. We could have caught a bus to our hotel in Fez, but since we had slept at the aiport before our early morning flight, we were a little tired. The only other time we took a taxi from the airport on this trip was in Bucharest, where we actually did get ripped off. He used a meter, but it was 3 times as much as most other taxis (in Romania the price per km is written on the door – we didn’t know that then though!).
Have you been ripped off by taxi drivers? Where was it, and what did you do? Let me know!