Top Ten Taxi And TukTuk Scams Around the World

This is a world-schooling article by Louis Mitton AKA Explorason – 12-years-old.

With more and more people travelling the world, it is the time we wised up and put as stop to the would-be petty criminals out there that try and take advantage of the tourist.

They see you coming.  Sometimes it is your pale skin, sometimes it is the luggage, other times it is the money-belt or the ridiculous hats and clothes some tourists wear that make them stand out a mile.

Scamming is extremely popular in the taxi community.  Because there are many ways to be scammed if you are a taxi passenger. Even a Tuk-Tuk, Bemo,  Boat captain, Boda-Boda rider, or whatever you are on or in might be out to scam a few bucks out of your wallet.

But other times you can live somewhere and need to get a taxi and the minute we hop in the trouble starts. Taxi scams rate in my list of most top hated things about travel and you can read that here too.

So if this has happened to you, or if you are about to travel, read on! 

Here are a few of my most non-favourite scams to warn you about (in no particular order), but I am sure you could tell me more….

10. The No Meter Scam

The first scam is that there is no meter so then they start the fare out at something high, but that one is pretty easy to notice. Then you have to haggle, and as you know I hate to haggle! (A popular one is if you are picked up – let’s say at an S-Asian airport as a pretend situation.)

9. The Haggle For More AFTER You Are Driving Scam

Worse is when you haggle but it is a long ride and you get there and they try to make you agree you said a higher price, or ask for a big tip. In Bangkok, we haggled for the price but have to include the tolls or they make you pay when you get to the toll gate. Seriously!

8. The Busted Meter Scam

This sneaky scam is when they say that the taxi meter is “broken”, but you are already sitting inside or driving off. I hate this one when it is hard to get a taxi or it is raining.

Or a good trick is they put their cap over the metre so you don’t see it is supposedly ‘busted’ after you’ve piled your luggage in the back, you are tucked into the back seat especially after a long flight plus you’ve stood in a queue for the past half hour waiting for “Mr Ripoff” to arrive!

7. The Doctored Meter Scam

The dodgy metre is a scam where the metre is ‘doctored’ and they use it anyway, but fare goes up quicker and you watch in horror as the numbers click around before you’re eyes – Mum hates that one!

6. The Long Way There Scam

Yet another one is when they would go the long way to get there.  But we have wised up and we turn on Maps on the phone – they hate that. So we give them directions. A good scammer will tell you the road is closed ahead too if you try to tell them the short way, but it really isn’t!

5. The Sky-High Price Scam

We try to always ask ahead via email how much a fare will be. When we arrived in Paris before Christmas the driver at the airport tried for a double fare, and I (yes me) had to tell him to stop – because we knew it wasn’t that. Guess what??? He listened to a 12-year-old and we got the price for half what he wanted. I told him “not ever to bother trying”, and amazingly he stopped. He is rare!

4. The Chatty Scam

My ears start to twitch when we are in a taxi and the driver starts being really chatty and asking us a lot about us. Sometimes they are innocent but other times you just know they are fishing for information. Where are you from? Have you ever been here before?  Lots of questions.  Depending on how you answer them so the fare can be.  We, for example, paid 1500 ks when we arrived in Kenya for a taxi from the bus to the hotel.  After a while, we found out that it should be about 800 Kenya shillings.  For the tuk-tuks, it is 20 shillings or ‘twenty bob’ as they say here for a ride but I reckon we were paying about 200Kenya shillings. We were ‘fresh on the block’ and they knew it.

The drive can also then start the ‘sympathy talk’ where you hear how poor they are, and how they have a terrible situation and they have no money for it.  Please do not get me wrong, we love to help the poor, but when you travel the world it ‘wises you up’ to the routines they have for extracting extra money from their passengers.  Sadly everyone has a story and we can’t help them all.  It makes you so uncomfortable as you know the minute they start they are going to try and pressure you into a big tip or a high fare.

3. The Snail Speed Scam

The snail pace driver – Mum had one in Sydney and he was ‘milking the fare’ so he’d go fast and slow, fast and slow, and crawl up the hills or drive in a 60 kph zone at 35 kph.  She told him about ten times to do the real speed limit or she would get out.  He tried it one too many times.  Guess what Mum did???? YEP – she got out. This only works if you have no luggage and you are safe to get out.

2. The Traffic Jam Scam

And oh help me with this one please – they want to go a different way only so they deliberately get stuck in a traffic jam and you sit wedged in with your only entertainment being the metre numbers spinning around in from of you. 

We get tricked with this one when we are tired after shopping and forget to check the map.

1. The Misquoted Price Scam

And my last one happened in London. We just arrived and we asked the ‘cabbie’ the approx fare before he started the meter. He told Mum, let’s say 20 GBP, but when we finally arrived it was 60 GBP. And there was no traffic jam either – thank goodness or it might have been 80 GBP and Mum would have really been annoyed.

So basically, there are hundreds of ways to be scammed a taxi passenger. But I really just get in the taxi now and wait for what is next and it puts me on edge, and that shouldn’t be the case for any kid to expect to get ripped off. 

Questions to our readers:

Do you have any taxi scams you can add to the list??

What do you think is the biggest orbest scam out of my list?

Tell us in the comments below.

Thanks!

(Farewell from me in Kenya for now)

This is an article by 12-year-old Explorason – written in Kenya, Africa where we educate via a method called world-schooling. It is a bit like home-schooling but it allows the learner free reign to explore and learn at their own pace, encompassing their current surroundings, in their own time, and with their own interests.

Right now he is interested in bugs.  We have also studied the local monkeys, and Explorason spends his days following his passions which include graphic design, video and YouTube creation and editing, music remixes, young entrepreneur business establishment, photography, and much more. You can listen to his music here on Soundcloud.

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8 comments

  1. Great information! My first scam was from the US border into Tijuana, MX. It should have been a short trip, but the driver went round and round, exiting on and off a nearby highway. Then he let us off in the alley behind a souvenir store we had to walk through to get to the street. We did NOT buy anything!! We smartened up, so walked back to the border. Next time was in Jerusalem. We didn’t know exactly where the shared taxi from Jordan let us off, but needed to get to the Old City New Gate. Hailed a taxi, he drove us 2 blocks – cost $8 US. LOL

  2. A great round up of the scams Louis. I know people who have loaded their luggage into the boot at an airport, only for the driver to whizz off with it, or vice versa when they arrive at their destination. I ALWAYS insist that the driver gets out of his taxi while I load/unload or I refuse to get in

    1. Oh, good point. He likes that one. We’ve had a couple try to charge extra for each bag and several but or damage our bags, but thankfully never take off with them. that would be awful!

  3. Hi Louis, I don’t know if it still happens but 20 – 25 years ago we’d go to Bangkok and the taxi driver or tuk tuk driver would always want to go to a gem store or handicraft place on the way to our destination. They would ask us to go into the store even if only for a couple of minutes because then they’d get a voucher from the proprietor that they could use for petrol. It was always a long winded hassle as we didn’t want to but often got caught up in the emotion of feeling sorry. A couple of times we were late for appointments at our kids orphanage because of it. I remember once getting out in the middle of nowhere because I was so cranky. The trouble with taxi scams is they get travelers at their most vulnerable, tired, jet lagged, disoriented and in strange surroundings.

    1. Yes always when you are tired. We have had the scam for petrol too but not the gem store. That is not good they made you miss the appointment. Mum gets really mad but now I’m older I actually tell them to don’t even bother trying. The trouble with that is one guy dumped us in the middle of no-where in Cambodia. So what do you do?

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