As you all know, no doubt, in taxis worldwide they have meters which keep track of how far you go and the length of time that you are using the cab. This information is used by the meter to calculate how much you owe for the fare of taking you where you went in the taxi. The combination of distance/time used are caluculated based on Government regulations on how much taxi drivers are allowed to charge for their service.
In the Philippines, and every other country that I am aware of, the fare that you are to pay is the amount that is shown on the meter. In the Philippines, they have recently instituted a new law that you are to add P10 to the fare shown on the meter to cover the increased cost of fuel, but the price on the meter is what determines how much the total is.
In several recent articles on the site, we’ve been talking about taxis, change to pay the fares and such. There have been a few comments regarding taxi drivers who won’t use the meter. Most foreigners like us get very upset when a driver refuses to use the meter, or “forgets” to use it (conveniently). Then, at the end of the trip, he demands some price that is way higher than it should be. About 7 years ago, I was involved in an experience like this, and found a great way to deal with it.
I was living in General Santos at the time. The airport in General Santos is a fair distance from the City, maybe 20 to 30 minutes depending on the speed, traffic, etc. I had just flown in from a business trip in Cebu and was so happy to be home. When I got into the cab, I didn’t notice that he did not start the meter. After about 5 minutes of riding, I noticed that the meter was not turned on, but since we were already underway, I decided to sit back and see what the driver would charge me. I knew well that the fare from the airport to my house should run around P110 or so. I texted a friend (Filipino) and told him what was going on, and that the driver must think I am a tourist. We both laughed, and he was also interested to hear the outcome of my experience with the driver.
All along the way, I was very friendly to the driver, we talked, laughed and had a pleasant time on the trip. When we arrived at my house, I got out of the car, got my suitcases and headed toward the gate. The driver yelled at me – “Sir, you forgot to pay – it’s P400.” I turned around and went back to the cab. I told him that the meter said “Zero” – it was blank, no price listed. He said that P400 was the normal fare for this trip. I told him that I knew he was being dishonest, because I lived here and had taken this ride many times. I also told him that under Philippine law you were to pay the price on the meter, and the meter did now show any price, so I would pay nothing. He argued with me, and threatened to call the police. I told him that it was fine if he called the police, and I would also call the LTO (Land Transportation Office) so they could send somebody to take his license, because he was breaking the law by not using the meter. After a while, I told him that I would give him P100. He said “the normal fare is P120 from the airport to here!” ha ha… I said “You just told me that the normal fare was P400, were you trying to steal from me?” At this point, I gave him three choices:
- Accept the price on the meter (zero).
- Accept P100 and move on with his business.
- Call the police, and I would file a complaint against him.
He pleaded and pleaded with me to give him P120. I referred him back to the three choices. He talked to Feyma and pleaded with her. She advised him that he was supposed to use the meter. In the end, he took P100 and left. What else could he do, it was he who broke the law. I was only obliged to pay what was shown on the meter, and that was blank. He made a mistake that day and it cost him a few pesos. Ten or twenty less than it should have been, whether you choose my amount or what he claimed it should be.
Either way, it was he who messed up, not me.
My only advice on this strategy is that you should only do it in a place where you will be safe. If you are in a public place with a lot of people, I see no reason to pay a huge sum that is not right. If you let the guy take you into some dark ally, then you need to decide, because it may not be safe. The guy has already proved that he is dishonest by stealing from you, or attempting to do so. Violence may not be far off, if you let him get you into an area where he can’t be seen.
Overall, I find that the vast majority of taxi drivers, at least in Davao, are very honest and friendly. It is very rare that any of them try to rip me off. I only bring this up because it has already popped up in comments in recent days. I am very generous with tipping taxi drivers, generally I will give them P10 or so tip, even up to P20 if I really like them and they are nice to me. But, for the guy who tries to steal from me… look out. I don’t accept that lightly.
Pay what is on the meter, or offer what you think the trip is worth. No more.