We have seen and heard how taxi drivers in Asia take advantage of locals, let alone foreigners. Keep in mind that even the most experienced foreigner can easily fall victim to some tricks that these taxi drivers use. Note that not all tricks are extreme; some tricks are to get a few extra dollars out of innocent travelers. From being overcharged to stealing from you, there are many ways scammers can scam you in these taxis.
What you need to keep in mind is that tourists are not in any way supposed to be charged more than locals. If you find yourself in such a situation, reach out to a police officer. If you are feeling bold, you can even refuse to pay that amount. Regardless, never let these people take advantage of you. Once these taxi drivers sense innocence or ignorance, they will try to take advantage of you.
Here are some of the scams most taxi drivers use and how you can avoid them. Note that some taxi drivers are honest. However, you always have to be vigilant and on the lookout. And as a pro tip, always ask your taxi driver to start the meter before you start your journey.
The Taxi Mafia Scams
This is common throughout Asia. At airports, train stations, and bus stations you might find that taxi drivers are highly organized. Often, they all agree to overcharge and fix their prices way too high. Because they don’t want to move around with heavy bags, many tourists choose to overpay.
The solution to this is to walk outside the designated parking area and call for a non-mafia controlled taxi or cab.
If you opt for a taxi or a tuk-tuk that runs a meter, you will want to be aware of these two tricks that they use. First, some choose to skip the meter. If this happens, demand that they use their meter or let you out of their cab. You can even threaten to report them to the police.
Some might also increase the meter a lot faster compared to the legal rate. As a solution, be sure to know the standard meter rate for the country you are visiting. You can even google the prices to be on a safe side.
If you are using a taxi with a fixed price, you might be over quoted. You might know the exact location you are heading to, but they will insist that it is further than that. To avoid this, tell them what you know and insist on the exact distance. If they refuse to accept or give you a fair price, walk away.
Late Night Surcharge
From about 9 pm to about midnight, surcharges might apply. However, most taxi drivers take advantage of this and overcharge tourists. Whereas in most Asian countries this ranges between 20% to 25%, some drivers might shoot it up to 50%. As such, be vigilant and always watch out.
As a solution, you might have to compare different taxis; if the prices are still the same, then you have to understand that it’s the time of the night. If you are still not sure, you might have to ask a local policeman or security whether there are any late-night fees.
Parking Or Waiting Fees
Your destination might have a parking fee. However, if it’s a drop-off, there is no need to pay parking fees. Some airports charge parking fees but you should be very vigilant as not all airports charge. Some might even charge you more than the average price. As a solution, always insist on paying directly to the parking authorities instead of to the driver. If there is a spot to pay, head there, and only pay the required amount.
On the other hand, in most places where you step out and ask the driver to wait on you, you might be charged a parking fee. However, if you can’t see an attendant waiting for payment, then the chances are that you are not supposed to pay. There is a standard fee it is usually displayed on a board. If you can’t see one, never get lured into paying your driver.
Return Trip Charge
Have you ever boarded a taxi or tuk-tuk only to be told that the trip cannot be booked one way, you have to pay for both ways? They claim it’s because they can’t get another fare within that location. If you are going out of town, this makes sense. However, legally speaking, this might not your responsibility. However, you might not have much of a choice but to oblige. The solution to this is either to take a bus or pay for the roundtrip fare.
Usually, within the first 10 to 15 minutes, it is free to sit in traffic. After that, you will be required to pay a basic “wait fee” per hour. In most cases, this fee is calculated on the meter. If by any chance you are not using one, chances are you will be overcharged. This is especially true if you are headed to a place with lots of traffic.
The solution to this is to explain to your driver in advance that if you don’t experience any traffic, then you will not pay the waiting fee. Explain this before you step into their car.
Since taxis drivers don’t earn anything significant from their work, they always fight tooth and nail to get a tourist’s money. As such, they always target foreigners as their cash cow. Keep in mind that their quality of life is not anywhere close to yours unless if you meet those who are good at extorting people. However, if it’s just a small amount, you are better off just paying than wasting your time negotiating. Overall, be vigilant and never let these drivers take advantage of you.