Whether you are a frequent traveler or visiting a friend in a new city for the first time, there may be few instances where you feel like you are being scammed. You may feel like this while shopping at a street vendor, or while taking an airport taxi service. And, we are going to discuss about how to avoid airport taxi scams here, so you can enjoy your travel in the city.
Tips & tricks to avoid airport taxi scams
Being new to a place can make you feel alienated, especially when you just arrived at an airport filled with hustle & bustle of travelers from everywhere. This gets even harder to handle when you are on a foreign soil with different set of language & customs. Not to mention the jet-lag you’ll suffer from a long flight.
So, it’s fairly easy to get scammed by an airport taxi service, if you happen to hire a shady one. But, you can avoid all this with a little know-how about the common taxi scams and using your street smarts. To help you out from being duped, here are some tips & tricks on avoiding airport taxi scams –
1. Find out the airport taxi rates
Knowing the airport taxi rates to & from the airport to your destination definitely helps you avoid taxi scams. You can find out about the rates through a little research on the internet, or you can ask your friends & family, who have visited the city, about the travel costs and many more. You can also find such information in travel guide books about the city, and about the airport taxi fares, for different routes to your destination from the airport.
2. Travel with licensed airport taxi
Your safest bet for avoiding getting scammed on your travel in the city is to use professional & licensed airport taxi service. You can either book your airport taxi online or call them before you land at the airport to receive you. Taxi drivers of registered airport taxi services are pros as well as courteous. They will see that you travel in comfort. They also have their driving licenses with a picture of themselves clearly displayed inside the taxi for you to see.
Don’t go with suspicious looking taxi drivers who wait around the airport looking for their next target – the innocent travelers. These guys will take you to a much isolated place where you cannot get help from the cops & other friendly locals. They will take you & your luggage hostage unless you pay a high fare, and then leave you out there in the middle of nowhere.
So, it’s best to go with a registered airport taxi service to have a safe & comfortable travel experience.
3. Fix the taxi fare
Make sure that you and the taxi driver agree on a price before heading out. This is the taxi fare to the airport and from the airport to your destination. It should also include any extra fare, especially related to the luggage. In case you need a ride for a group of people, the fare should include the cost for the whole group as well as their luggage.
4. Keep small change
This one is a classic text book taxi scam. It’s doesn’t matter whether you are in a foreign land or in your own backyard, shady taxi drivers most often or not will come up with one. They will say they don’t have small change right now, so you end up paying more than the actual fare.
If you don’t want to be fooled around, keep small change whenever you are traveling in a taxi, both at home & abroad. And, if you are in fact traveling in foreign country, have small change in local currency before you get in the airport taxi, or any taxi service for that matter.
5. Start using smart apps
Technology is getting smarter and better every day. You have one of the most powerful gadgets in the world today, so make use of it. There are many smart apps that will help you book a licensed airport taxi on the move. Be wise and use them to make your life a little easier. For instance, Taxi Magic is one such app available in over 25 cities in United States.
6. A map in hand
Ah, another classic taxi scam “The Scenic Route” If you are traveling in a new place, get a map & study all possible routes to the airport & from the airport to your destination, as well as taxi fares for the transport in each route.
Taxi drivers (shady ones) will often take you on this scenic tour to hike up the fare. The route is not that scenic but it is long. And it’s just another scam.
Tip: Never open up those big paper maps, and show the taxi driver the way. This is a clear sign that you are new to the place, and don’t know the area well enough. You will look like a lamb that’s ready for slaughter. Don’t do it!
Instead, you can go digital. Use GPS or some other app in your smart phone to know about the possible routes, time it takes to get around and fares. You can ask the taxi driver to take you through a particular route. It will give him a sense that you know the ins-&-outs of the area. He/she will then comply without having hard feelings about it.
7. Exchange information
When you hire a licensed airport taxi service, give them your travel details as to where you want to be picked up, your destination, time of arrival or departure. Similarly, get all the details about the transport you will be provided, like your taxi’s model, color & driver’s name as well as contact details.
Your taxi driver will be there to pick you up from the airport, as he’ll have your travel details. Wait for him/her to approach you first. When you get around the taxi ask for his/her identification to be sure that you have the right ride, he/she will gladly show it to you and put your fears to rest.
Tip: When you land at the airport & look for your reserved airport taxi, don’t go around telling a stranger or talking aloud about the details of your transport. There are taxi drivers looking to con you, who will use this information to approach you. They will tell you that they are the hired taxi service. Also, don’t go around asking taxi drivers if they are the ones you reserved. That’s just inviting trouble.
8. There is no broken meter
If you are traveling abroad, especially in developing countries, you may hear a lot about how the meter is broken and you’ll have to pay what the driver asks you to, which is often an expensive amount. Instead of paying a hefty sum, take another taxi or search for licensed taxi services in the area on the internet. Then, call them up for a quick pick-up.
9. Great hotels
When you are traveling with a chatty taxi driver, he/she may start a casual conversation. Then a little bit into the conversation, he/she will ask you about where you are staying. After knowing the place, he/she will say that it’s not a good place to stay at, is very expensive or in mid-construction or closed down.
This is when he/she will offer you to take you to another much better hotel which is more comfortable and cheap. More often than not taxi drivers get paid by the hotel owners to bring in customers. After being dropped off at the lousy hotel, you will never see them again. So, don’t get fooled by the sweet talk.
It’s always best to reserve your hotel before you arrive at your destination, to save you from not just scams but to have a great place to rest, after a tiring day of travel & long flights. There is no better hotel than the one you booked, after all the research and effort.
10. Don’t get off unless it’s your own destination
This doesn’t happen often but if you are traveling in a country that has high crime rate, then there are chances that you may fall in trap of people disguised as taxi drivers.
These kinds of people will take you on a ride and tell you to get off the taxi for a sec, as there seems to be some problem and that they need to check. And when you leave your guard down, they will take off with your luggage. And sometimes, they will use force to rob you off your valuables & belongings, & then leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
So, to protect yourself from such incidents, get off only at your destination or hotel and nowhere else.
11. Show some respect
When you arrive in a new city, you are out of your comfort zone in a new place, and are trying hard to avoid getting scammed. But, make sure that you do not end up insulting your taxi driver. This actually goes for everyone you come across with.
There are honest & hardworking taxi drivers out there as well, whose number exceeds than that of the shady ones. So, pay attention to what you say and how you behave with your taxi driver. It may not be intentional, but might somehow end up hurting his/her feelings. This will only aggravate him/her, and you may end up without a ride in the city.
Rather than treating them like someone who is out there to get you, show some respect and treat them as any normal person, and you will have a safe and comfortable travel experience.
Now that you are familiar with ways of shady taxi drivers and their scams, take measures to ensure that you don’t get duped. Hire licensed airport taxi service to have a great travel experience wherever you go.