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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.

dc-cab

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!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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9 Comments

  1. February 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm — Reply

    Thanks for sharing these tips! As well as the above if you are travelling to your hostel or hotel I try to ask them how much it should be to and from a place e.g. airport, bus station.

    Also I usually as 3 different taxi drivers for a price and that gives you a good indication of what you should pay.

    • February 8, 2015 at 11:28 pm — Reply

      Cheers Nigel. It’s definitely good to find out the correct price before hand, it’s easy to forget to do it though!

  2. February 11, 2015 at 5:28 am — Reply

    Great tips that I’ll have to use. I also found out about another scam – the different colored taxis in Rio de Janeiro’s airports. More on that here: http://www.tripwellness.com/getting-around-rio-de-janeiro/

    • February 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm — Reply

      Nice, great info for when we eventually make it to Brazil!

  3. February 12, 2015 at 1:24 am — Reply

    Well done!
    Nice tips to avoid being tricked. It’s so common for travellers.

  4. March 7, 2015 at 3:34 am — Reply

    I have never lived anyplace where taxis are common, so it’s one of those basic skills that I keep putting off and making a bigger deal than it is. This fear might serve me well in cities with good subway or bus systems, but I’m glad I have your tips to boost my confidence when that’s not an option.

    • March 10, 2015 at 12:05 pm — Reply

      Thanks Heather, I hope your taxi trips go well!

  5. November 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm — Reply

    Hahaha, that is one scary looking cab driver! I agree with being nice, not sure if it works but I always try.

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