5 Best Ways to Keep Taxi Drivers Honest

It’s that time a year again when some of us not so seasoned travelers have to hit the road again. From past experiences and based on current inquiries about local taxi fares, I decided to come up with a list of pointers to look out for.

1. It is best to hire a taxi through your hotel or local friends. We hired a taxi through the hotel while we were in London last month. The fare was 10 pounds more than a street taxi, but at least the price was fixed. This proved useful as we encountered an accident on the main road and our driver had to take quite a detour. Nobody enjoys the feeling of doubt whether you have just gotten ripped off or not.

From Leadenhall Market in London (the banking district) to Heathrow Airport, most quoted a fare of 60 pounds. Our taxi was 70 pounds and it was worth it!

2. If your cab hire is not done through the hotel, get the driver to commit to a price. If you are in the U.S.A., e.g., don’t forget to ask whether this includes taxes, service charges, etc. Some taxi drivers do not mention the total charge and surprise you at the end of the ride.

If you are with fellow passengers, repeat the agreed upon total price, and name them as witnesses. A cunning driver might insist after the ride that you had misunderstood the quoted price.

3. Take a photo of the taxi before you get in or note down the license plate. This knowledge might also prove useful in deterring him from overcharging.

4. If your arrival by taxi is at night, remind the driver to turn the interior light on all the way. Here comes the important part – ask your fellow passengers to watch you pay the money as they are your witnesses. Then count out the notes in a strong voice, ask for confirmation of how much you have handed over, before he puts it away.

I have learned this from my New York cab driver who insisted I had not given him the full amount (which I had), but my tired fellow passengers in the back seat were no suitable witnesses either. We were just not prepared for this kind of deception.

5. Somewhere along the ride from e.g. the airport to the hotel, ask for the local police number in a casual way. Then store it in your mobile phone. Make sure the taxi driver takes notice of this.

I know it is difficult after a long flight (sometimes even a short one), when you have to deal with locking up your home, getting to the airport, checking in, waiting for your delayed flight, picking up your luggage, dealing with immigration, and finding your way to your destination.
But you have to stay alert up to the last minute until your feet hit the sack or your elbows hit the hotel bar.

New York City

I will be making use of my own list in Nottingham quite a few times next week. But besides keeping taxi drivers honest, I also intend to visit the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (England’s oldest inn), say “Hey up me duck” to the locals, and I also hope to catch a glance of our son while his farewell partying ends for the semester break.