March 5, 2013

Taxi Scams in the Philippines: Thou shall not be fooled!

Stories have been running around about ill taxi experiences. Personally, I have been a victim of most taxi scams, most of which happened in Metro Manila. In fact, I almost got scammed the other day on my way to NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International) terminal 3! That’s why I’m writing this, to bring some of the taxi drivers’ deceitful schemes to light. Because personally, I’ve had enough, and I just can’t just tolerate them anymore.

Scam: Taxi driver will refuse to give change

They have different ways of doing this. Some make an excuse that they don’t have change, others will just keep your money and gives you this I’m-not-giving-you-change look. This is totally unjust because you have the right to get the change if you want to, after all, it’s yours. Right?

To avoid this, take small bills and coins with you whenever you’re planning to take a taxi ride. If you have not prepared change, then you can tell the taxi driver beforehand so that you can swing by a gasoline station to have your money changed. Demand for your change (I hope I’ll be able to do this next time), because it’s their responsibility to give it to you.

Scam: Taxi driver will negotiate fixed amount for your destination

Never fall for this unless you are desperate! I assure you, they would charge more than what the meter would allow them to charge. Why in the first place would they try to arrange the fee, right? You’ll lose at least a hundred pesos or maybe even more if you get deceived through this scheme!

To avoid this, ask the driver if he’ll take you to your destination before getting inside the car. And once you get inside, make sure he turns on the meter. The meter is installed in taxis to determine the fare so it better serve its purpose! If the driver tries to negotiate with you, ask him to stop the car and allow you to get off.

Scam: Taxi drivers will charge an additional fee on top of the metered rate

This is like forcing you to give him a tip. They give out  lots of excuses just so you’d agree to pay the additional charge. Reasons may include traffic jams, far destination, lack of possible passengers, long return route, etc. These things are beyond your control and is not your fault. Your responsibility is to pay the taxi driver the metered fare starting from your pick-up point to your destination and nothing more. If you want to give him a tip, that would be fine, but you should not be forced to do so.

If you don’t want to be a victim of this, arrange your terms with the driver before getting in the taxi. If you don’t get a good negotiation, refuse to ride the taxi. If you’re already inside, insist to get off.

Taxi drivers have been notorious for these scams. When taking a taxi ride, there’s always a risk. That’s why I always pray for a good taxi driver if I know that I’ll be taking a long taxi ride. I have been victimized by these scams many times that I somehow got traumatized that I’m anxious almost every time that I have to ride the taxi alone!

I’m not saying that all taxi drivers are dishonest. A lot of Davao taxi drivers are honest. Even in Metro Manila, I also had a few encounters with good taxi drivers. I'm sure there are also a lot of good taxi drivers in other cities and provinces around the Philippines. It’s always a pleasure for me to give such drivers a good tip. I wish there would be more of them!

With this, I hope that we’ll (yes, including me!) be more careful next time, and I hope that we won’t fall for any more of these scams! If you'll encounter a nice taxi driver, somebody who will give you proper change or will not try to deceive you, be good enough to give him a tip. If you're short on money, at least give a thank you. These taxi drivers are rare and I believe they should be well appreciated.

Note: for extra safety, get the taxi’s plate number and send it to somebody you know so that if anything happens, they’ll have a way to track the taxi.

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