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Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
Atlanta, Georgia
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Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

I'm a rather seasoned traveler, but made some rookie mistakes and thought I should reiterate the warnings we all know.

I just returned from my 3rd trip to Mexico City, which is a beautiful city and wonderful place to be a tourist. Before going on this trip, I knew that it was important to have hotels, restaurants, shops, etc., call taxis for us and not to hail taxis from the street. I've followed that rule in the past, and never had any problems.

However, on New Year's Eve, our hotel was surrounded by the festivities going on at the Angel, and the nearby roads were closed. Since no taxi could get to our hotel, we decided to walk a few blocks and flag one down on the street.It was the maroon and gold official looking taxi.

We were going from Zona Rosa to Condessa, a short distance. The driver took us on a very circuitous route, even allotting for street closures. We went around in circles. At one point, I saw the meter jump by about 60 pesos while we were just sitting at a red light. When we arrived, the fare was 197 pesos. I thought this was very high, as I knew the airport was 200 pesos. But I did not know how to argue my case, and I thought there might be some surcharge for driving at night or driving 4 people.

I handed the driver a 200 peso note, and 20 peso note for a tip. He shuffled them in his hand and then held up two 20 peso notes, claiming that was all I had given him. There is no doubt in my mind that I gave him 220, and I argued with him for about a minute before going into the restaurant and asking the hostess if she would help us deal with the driver. He told her the same lie, at which point I asked her to call the police. Then, for some reason, my friend just handed the driver another 200 peso note. I guess he thought the police wouldn't believe us. I would have waited for the police. We had no reason to lie over a sum this small, and I thought that the threat of police involvement would cause this crook to leave. Regardless, my friend paid again and asked for the two 20's back. The driver refused, and sped away with the passenger door still open.

Part of this is our fault for hailing a cab on the street, but what this driver did was dishonest and was a crime. He STOLE 220 pesos from us. I should have gotten his car number, but I did not realize that he had been paid again and was going to speed off.

On the ride home, we did ask the restaurant to call us a taxi, and that driver arrived in a plain sedan, unmarked, which is not unusual. The ride home was 110 pesos. I handed him a 200, and he handed me a handful of change, which he had counted out. I handed him a 10 peso tip, and stepped out of the car, where I counted my change. As he drove away, I realized he had short-changed us by about 50 pesos. Learn from me:

1) COUNT YOUR CHANGE BEFORE GETTING OUT OF ANY TAXI.

2) HAVE A BUSINESS CALL A TAXI FOR YOU. DON'T HAIL ONE FROM THE STREET.

Queretaro City...
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1. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

I agree that you can get cheated by taxis (it's happened to me) but you say you got cheated by a taxi you got off the street AND got cheated by one called by a business? I don't see that makes one better than the other......

San Miguel de...
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2. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

Sorry about your bad experience. But, as SteveMex says, you got cheated BOTH times. If the car the business called was unmarked, then it wasn't a taxi anyway. If it were me, I wouldn't have taken it and insisted on a proper sitio cabb

I have to say I have not (yet) been cheated by a cab driver in DF and I hail cabs on the street quite frequently. I always make sure I have plenty of smaller notes and coins with me, to avoid the risk of being short-changed. And of course I don't tip. It's not expected.

New York, NY
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3. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

Sorry to hear about your experiences. I agree with your #1, but not necessarily with your #2. For my trip I just used taxi sitios and sometimes have had hotels/restaurants call us taxis (if we did not know where the sitio stand was or we were too far from it). Sometimes they would call us a taxi sitio and sometimes they would call us an unmarked car. The unmarked cars were a lot more expensive. A 50 peso trip by taxi sitio turned out to be a 150 trip in an unmarked car.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

I agree that the unmarked cars are more expensive, but there's some accountability if a business owner initiates the call. If our hotel had called a car that ripped us off as badly as the regular taxi did, they could have called the taxi service for compensation or punishment of the driver, or refused to do business with them again. At least we would have been able to identify who drove us.

Mexico City, Mexico
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5. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

Sorry to hear that.

Unmarked taxis are indeed unusual and and immediate red flag. Do other foreign tourists get them often?

New York, NY
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6. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

I should mention that the unmarked taxi we got was after dining at The Four Seasons. I think it may have been one of their cars as it was very luxurious, which explains why the cost was significantly higher than the taxi sitio. The other unmarked car was not very luxurious, but ended up costing us about 50% more than a taxi sitio.

I didn't end up hailing a cab from the street. But if I did, I would have looked for these things:

1. License plate starting with A or B

2. Photo registration pasted on the right rear window.

I've noticed there were some taxis that did not have the registration on the right rear window and it seemed to be OK. But I probably wouldn't have gotten into one unless both criteria were satisfied. And there was one taxi I encountered with no license plates and the photo registration on the window ripped out. That taxi was surely one that nobody should ever get into.

Mexico City
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7. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

Sorry to hear about this, but it happens to all of us. Early in November, I dropped off some visiting foreign clients at the Anthropology Museum. I went in with them to be sure they could figure how to get a map, buy tickets, etc. and then left and went to the taxi stand on Reforma just outside of there. The driver pulled the same stunt on me.

He told me the fare was 180 pesos to my office which I could have walked to in under 30 minutes. I was annoyed but handed him 200 and he claimed it was a 20 - same game you had. I cursed him and handed him another 200. Like your friend, I have no time to waste with this stuff. I was amazed this happened. It only happened to me once before in the world (Miami) with this bait and switch of the bill and that time my hotel (Fountainbleu) did nothing to help and driver followed me into the hotel insisting. Now, I have friends pick me up in Miami as the taxis there are usually particularly bad.

Taxis overcharge from time to time on holidays as there are fewer of them working so give a driver a break if he is driving you on Dec 24 or Dec 31. Taxis are a big mystery to all of us.

At 11 am on Dec 24, I took a taxi from the sitio in Col. Narvarte to the Pantalon building in Bosques. It was 105 pesos plus tip, very reasonable. I have him 150 pesos - Christmas spirit.

At 11 am on Dec 31, I took a taxi from the Parque México sitio in Col. Condesa (much closer than Narvarte) to the Pantalon bulding and the fare was 200 pesos. Too expensive for the ride, but OK. No tip.

At 5 pm on Dec 31, I took a taxi from the Bosques sitio from the Pantalon to Coapa (a very long distance) and it was 170 pesos. So cheap. I gave him 220 pesos - New Years spirit.

Usually I avoid taxis in Mexico City and drive myself, but had issues sharing with the spouse those days.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

Unmarked cars are probably not unusual if called by a business and not necessarily expensive. We were staying at the Hampton Inn last week and booked a car with the desk to go to the airport - it was a white unmarked car, not a taxi, and the fixed price was 180 pesos, only a bit higher than the Excelencia cab we took from the airport - domestic terminal (165 pesos).

New Hampshire
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9. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

So sorry you had this bad experience. Unmarked cars that operate at nicer hotels are typically more expensive than sitio and radio taxis (which are, in turn, typically more expensive than street taxis, but are more accountable), but there are also some reputable radio car services that use unmarked cars and that charge no more than other radio or sitio taxis and which have good communication with their drivers and to whom you can phone and get quick resolution if you ever have a dispute with the driver -- for example Super Sitio (7 Estrellas) (tel 5590 0745) , and Radio Elite (tel 5560 1122). I called Super Sitio 6 hours after I had left a camera in a car and they had a record of the car number, they reached the driver on his cell phone on the other side of the city and he found my camera which had rolled under the seat and he brought it back to me quickly, full of apologies for not having noticed it, and didn't want to take a tip for returning it.

See related post: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g150800-s304/Mexico-C…

Tampa, Florida
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10. Re: Taxis - Learn from Our Mistakes

From my first trip to Mexico City in November, the only time I was overcharged for a taxi was at 4 in the morning when the hotel called a "taxi" for me(just some guy with a car) to take me to the airport for 120 pesos) my hotel was on Luis Moya about 300m walk to the metro. I agreed to this only after looking around in the street for a

Regular taxi and finding it deserted.

Seriously, the prices at the airport for the official taxis give the visitor a false impression of what they cost. Most taxi fares in the central part of the city are 20 -50 pesos. I took taxis not often, using mostly public transport, but when I did they never cost more than this. They all used the meter without me saying anything about it. The most expensive fare was late in the evening going from the Chedraui near San Lazaro metro and the TAPO bus staton to my hotel, and that was like 47 pesos from a sitio metered taxi stand outside of Chedraui so I gave him 50 (and I had a lot of bags from shopping).

Under no circumstances would I sit in a taxi going around the center of Mexico City watching the meter go up to 200 pesos without asking the guy where the hell are you going long before that. At 50 I would have just gotten out. My Spanish is not perfect but I know enough to tell that scam artist where to go.

I found a great app to use (free) called TaxiAviso that can be used while riding in cabs in the Capital. Before you board a taxi punch in the taxi number into the phone, it will give you a response as to whether it is a legal registered taxi, and (if any) positive or negative reviews posted by former passengers about the taxi. (Sort of a Tripadvisor for cabs) You then have the option to press yes I will take this taxi or no

I won't. When you do, emails are sent to whatever addresses you choose with the taxi number and the map of your GPS location. It also posts the taxi number on your social media. (But without the map of your location. ) it does other things like estimate your taxi fare and the site keeps a record in case you have an emergency. But I think the most important thing is to make a big show of getting the taxi number and punching it into the app and sending it will avoid any serious problems like attacks, which are rare now, but also discourage ripoffs and hanky panky like the OP experienced. Used it on all my taxi journeys in Mexixo City and never had a problem.

And, come on. Don't tip taxi drivers any more than rounding up the fare. It's just not done and it paints you as an easy mark. The taxi driver rips you off by charging you at least 4 times the normal price and you give more as a tip?! The cabbie clearly thought he could squeeze more out of you.

I really have to give a full trip report of my Mexico City experience when I have time. Instead of posting in bits and pieces.