Taxis — one of the most convenient but also most expensive ways to get around, especially when you’re jet-lagged, dazed, and a foreigner to a new place. When you’re sore and tired from an incredibly long flight, getting on an air-conditioned vehicle with a cabbie that knows his way around is definitely tempting. Now there are a lot of cab drivers who are genuinely good people, who will give you the best service and even local tips on where to go and what to do at your destination. But there are definitely some who can sniff out a tourist a mile away and are just dying to take advantage of unsuspecting travellers. So to make sure that you don’t end up like one of those unfortunate people who get duped in the airport, we’re giving you some of the most common airport taxi scams.
If you’re in places like Sydney, Melbourne, or London, you’ll notice that taxi metres have 2 or 3 tariff settings. In the case of only 2 tariffs, no light means tariff one (meaning you only have to pay the regular price) and a red light means tariff 2 (where you pay a night time differential that’s 20% more). So if you’re taking a taxi during the daytime, make sure there’s no external red light showing on the tariff settings. If you don’t you might just end up paying 20% more than you ought to.
A lot of cities have flat-fees for airport taxi trips to the CBD or even a prepaid counter where you can buy a voucher or stub what you can give the cabbie as complete payment. But a lot of cities also use the typical meter for airport taxi rides. Once in a while you come across some unscrupulous driver who’ll tell you that his meter is broken. It may actually be broken or he might have just turned it off. If you don’t negotiate a price before he starts driving, who knows how much he’ll charge you?
Manual Credit Card Swipe
Many taxis now, especially in the more high-end cities, allow you to pay via credit card. Normally, there should be an electronic payment system like verifone in the cab. The scam goes: the cab driver tells you that the e-system isn’t working but he can process the payment on a manual machine he conveniently had on-board. I’m telling you right now: bad idea. A lot of people have been duped with this scam, don’t be added to the list. Some have received charges for a limo service they never got to enjoy, on top of the cab fare the again unscrupulous cabbie charged them with. Chances are, your credit card number will be sold (fraudulently, might I add) to people who can place some serious charges on your bill.
This one isn’t always necessarily the case, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Some cabbies would actually tell you that the hotel you’re going to has closed down for one reason or the other, or that they know a far better hotel with cheaper prices. Although, some actually just genuinely want to help, it’s safer to be a little bit cynical about these things. You see, some drivers actually partner up with run down hotels that have a hard time getting guests. The drivers bring them paying customers, and the owners will be more than happy to give them a 20% commission — on your tab. Not only will you be stuck in one of the city’s worst hotels, but you’d probably end up paying for 20% over the regular price too.
So the next time you’re going to take a cab from the airport, do your research on taxi fares, bring cash, check the taxi meter for anything suspicious. Better yet, get a secure airport parking spot from Alpha and enjoy the free airport transfer via shuttle bus. You end up saving money and yourself from the stress and headache of possibly dealing with these kinds of scams. Good luck!