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.