Not knowing the local language, customs, or currency means that tourists can be easy prey for scammers.
Airport taxi drivers, for instance, have been known to overcharge, add additional fees, take longer routes, provide incorrect change, and steal belongings from unsuspecting tourists. In a recent incident, hundreds of people lost millions in a GTA taxi fraud scam.
3 Smart Tips to Avoid Airport Taxi Scams
Scams are, unfortunately, sometimes part of the adventure that is travelling.
Here are some proven ways to avoid airport taxi scams.
1. Do Your Research
The most common way to avoid airport taxi scams is to research the most reliable airport commutes before hiring a taxi.
Some taxi drivers take tourists on longer “scenic” routes to run up the meter. Research the fastest route to/from the airport and insist that your driver take that specific one.
Or you can opt for an airport limo with pricing that includes fees for wait times or midway pick-ups and drop-offs. This way you don’t pay more for longer distances and additional services, like loading and unloading luggage, as they are included.
2. Always Hire Licensed Taxis (or Limos)
Unmarked or unlicensed taxis usually offer unbelievably cheap rates that are attractive to travellers on a budget. But you usually get what you pay for, and unmarked taxis with inexperienced drivers don’t have to follow industry regulations.
Drivers who aren’t properly licensed and trained may arguably put you at greater risk of theft or accident. Since safety is your number one priority, always book licensed airport taxis when travelling. Your cab should sport a visible company logo and telephone number.
You can also book a car from a reputable airport limousine company that hires chauffeurs through an extensive selection procedure. Make sure you ask the company about their drivers’ licenses and permits. If possible, ask for proof of these licenses.
Limousines are especially recommended for travellers with disabilities as they train drivers to handle a wheelchair and attend to their special needs.
3. Look for Good Customer Care
Although not common, some cabbies will drive off with their passengers’ luggage or personal belongings. Others will verbally abuse their customers. Unlike limousines, taxis don’t always offer a hotline for passengers to contact if they face any trouble during their ride.
To avoid theft when travelling in a taxi, keep your valuables with you in the backseat, even if that means keeping your bag on your lap. Never put your passport, wallet or electronics in the trunk, and delay paying your fare until all your belongings have been unloaded.
If you ever feel unsafe or suspicious while in a taxi, photograph the driver’s license details and report them once you’ve safely exited the vehicle. While airport taxi scams are all too common, you can avoid them by following the above-mentioned tips. Plan ahead, stay vigilant and make sensible choices.