Taxi Scams: The Most Common Trick
The risk of being scammed while you are on holiday is greatly increased as your sense of awareness decreases when you are relaxed; there are many other possible reasons for this, but the lack of understanding about the culture and traditions of the country you are visiting is the most common one; if you are going to a country where English is used as a second language or in some cases, not spoken at all, this could be used by the locals to play dodgy tricks; or simply, you become an easy target for being a foreigner.
The fact is that even the most prudent and savvy traveller among us can be caught by a fraudster, sometimes we do not even notice the scam until it is too late; and the most naïve ones might never realised they have become the victim of a fraud. There are so many issues that can affect holidaymakers in a negative way, and the biggest problem is that the ingenious and complexity of the scams increases by the day; from bogus hotels to fake security officers and hoax tricks, they are just a few you might encounter when are you more vulnerable to fall for it.
- Taxis: Although we have been told many times about this common scam, we keep falling for it. You must always ask the taxi driver to use the meter or agree a fare before getting into the cab; this is a very common trick in Malaysia; it actually happened to me while on holiday in Penang; the taxi driver hid the meter as soon as I got into the car, when I confronted him, he said it was not working, so out of curiosity I asked him how much the fare ride would be to the hotel, and even if it was not much more that what I was expecting I got out and took the next one; it was just the principle of paying too much for a service that you know can get for less. Tips to avoid problems: only take licensed cabs, order the taxi from the airport and always ask for the fare.
- Taxi driver: Once in Bogota, I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel and the taxi driver started asking me if I have paid for my hotel, when I said that I booked it but will pay when I get there, he started selling me a different hotel, as I knew about this trick I said it was fine but he continued telling me how fantastic the place was: the high ceilings, 50 meters swimming pool and the best breakfast in the whole of Bogota, but the best part of all: a few dollars cheaper that the one I booked (as a general rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t); a few days later I checked the name of the hotel and the first thing that appeared on the screen was the stories from other people who ended up paying huge amounts of money to stay there as it was in the middle of nowhere and not many taxis were available; the few taxis around the area were charging more than twice the normal fare; which probably indicates the complicity among them. Make sure you book the hotel from your own country.