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The Tricycles are charging me double!

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Everyday, 7 days per week, I get literally hundreds of emails.  Mostly they have questions about life in the Philippines, maybe they need help is solving some kind of problem that is facing them here in the Philippines.  Usually, I just answer the question and go on with my day.  Sometimes, I take a day or so to think the situation over and come up with what I feel is the proper answer.

Tricycles

Tricycles

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

Yesterday, I got an email from a fellow from Europe, and I have decided to share his question, and my answer.  Why did I decide to share this particular question and answer?  Well, because the question is so common, and I hear it all the time.  I hear a lot of people complaining incessantly about this particular problem, it is just non-stop.

The thing is, I never experience this problem anymore, although I used to.  I can’t remember when I last experienced this, I mean it is many, many years now.  What problem am I talking about?

The Skin Tax

What is the Skin Tax?  Well, that is what some people call it when Filipinos overcharge them for products or services, simply because they are from outside the Philippines.  I think that “skin tax” is a misnomer, because it denotes racism.  This overcharging is not based on race, it is based on the fact that you are a foreigner.  In fact, Filipinos are even charged extra if they have lived out of the Philippines for a long time.  I know Feyma got hit with this when we moved back to the Philippines, and I did too.  So, it is not really based on the color of your skin, it is just because it is figured that you can afford to pay more than a local person.

A note from “John”

I got a note from “John” (not his real name, I want to protect his anonymity).  Here is what he said:

My name is John and I am from Europe. I am foreigner living here in the Philippines just recently moved to Davao city from up north. I came here with my filipina wife, her aunt, her aunt’s husband and their baby.

We are living in the Southern part of Davao, you probably know where it is. We are now living here in Davao for about 2 months and I like it very much except for one thing and that is reason I am writing you.

It’s tricycle drivers. They keep charging us “foreigner” price. 50% or even 100% more than usual price for Filipinos. I even talked to them (drivers) in my broken cebuano and I thought if I talk to them and not my wife they would stop, but no it is the same.

Last time, few days ago when 4 of us took tricycle for a short distance, maybe 1 km or less driver wanted to charge us 100% more than usual price. Husband of my wife’s aunt was talking to him about 5 min about price and pointed at me while I was standing and waiting for him.

I approached them and understood a little bit whats going on. Driver keep asking for one price and my friend said its because of puti (white). He is from here so he knows price and obvious thing was driver saw piso sign on my forehead.

My friend was very upset by driver wanting more money that he was ready to call 911 to check price and to tell them that driver is basically trying to rob us by keep asking for more money and lying about price. Eventually when my friend typed 911 and got ready to call driver just left.

It made me sad that I am reason for that. My friend from US said that sounds like racism. Do you know the way how can we stop this from happening in the future? Is it legal for them (drivers) just to charge any price they want? If he really called police can they do something about it?

Thank you in advance, looking forward to your answer, John

Hi John,

Nice to hear from you.  I am sorry that you have experienced this problem, but I also think that it is a problem that you can put to rest.  I do commend you, though, for keeping your cool and for trying to talk to the driver in a calm way.  Feeling embarrassed that this has happened is something that most foreigner would not do, most would just get mad, and it would lead to more problems.  So, I feel that you are trying to solve the issue in a good way.  I hope that I can help you to put this to rest.

I feel, John, that there are two different types of solutions for you.. the long term solution and the short term solution.

The short term solution is what you need now, so that you can put this to an end and live a quiet and peaceful life without the hassles of being expected to pay extra for no good reason.  The calling of 911 is a possible solution, however, to me it is not the right solution.  In my opinion, 911 is reserved for more emergency type situations.  Somebody is injured, there is a fire or a traffic accident, that sort of problem.  However, I will say that I have been told of people in Davao calling 911 for such annoyances, and it seems to be a normal thing to do, but I feel that there is a better solution for you.

If I were in your position, what I would do is to go to the Barangay Hall for the Barangay where you live.  A Barangay is the most local government unit in the Philippines.  It is sort of the “neighborhood” although generally encompasses several neighborhoods.  The Barangay Captain is the highest “neighborhood” government official. He (or she, of course) is in charge of keeping peace between neighbors, handling situations in the Barangay, etc.  If you go file a complaint at the Barangay Office, a hearing will be set up between you and the tricycle drivers.  It is rather informal, but is understood to be serious.

If you go and meet with the Barangay Captain, be nice!  Be nice to the tricycle drivers, and especially to the Captain himself.  Show him respect.  Don’t speak out of turn, let the other speak, and wait until they are finished talking before speaking up.  Be very respectful to all.  If the tricycle drivers get mad or say bad things, keep your calm and don’t follow their example.  I have been to two Barangay meetings in my 16 years in the Philippines, and keeping my cool and being kind paid off big time for me!

Explain to the Barangay Captain what is going on with you and your family being overcharged.  I am sure that he will explain to the drivers that they are not allowed to do this.  And, I also believe  that the drivers will take it seriously, and follow the instructions of the Barangay Captain.

Now, the long term solution.

You said that your spoke to the drivers one time in your broken Cebuano.  I think that was a good move.  However, I would encourage you to study Cebuano and become fluent in the language.  I speak Cebuano myself, and I try to use Cebuano 100% if I am out in public, unless I am with other foreigners.  If you can become fluent in the language, I think you will find that these “overcharging” problems will not happen to you anymore, at least very rarely if they do.  That is my experience anyway.

Good luck to you, John!  It sounds to me like you have the right attitude, and I believe that you will work this out.  I wish you the best.  If you see me when you are out and about in Davao City, please say hello!  I would enjoy meeting you!

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Nilda
6 years ago

Yes indeed! Some drivers take advantage of the foreigner they think they have lots of money, that happend to me when we are in Davao, thank you to Bob Martin for helping us getting a taxi without getting over charge because Bob speak to the taxi driver in bisaya, if you speak the language they cant argue with you because they know you know the rules, after we left Perl Farm Resort and get a taxi back to the bus terminal, my goodness, they all tried to charge us 5 times more, and other taxi was asking 8x more the… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Nilda

Ha ha.. I’m glad I was able to help you Nilda! Knowing the language is very helpful on this kind of thing! 🙂

AJ UK
AJ UK
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

I’m surprised a taxi would do that in Davao. Mayor Rodi keeps a tight rein on things like that. I have never had that problem in Davao purely because the taxis always run on the meter We did have one taxi driver who “forgot”, I did give him the benefit of the doubt, to switch on the meter and my wife just handed him exactly the same fare as we were charged going in the opposite direction. The guy really had no argument. My wife always keeps the phone number of the mayors office in her phone but we have… Read more »

Nilda
6 years ago

Best thing to do before you get in the tricycle or jeepney, ask how much they charge to get to your distination and be it. If you dont ask first they can asked you what ever they want and they only do this to foreigners because they think you have a lot of money. Bob Martin is correct that get the drivers name and tricycle # then take him to Baranggay captain in your area where you live, just be nice and believe me they will get a big penalty for taking advantage to foreigners. Be carefull out there.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Nilda

I totally agree and I should have mentioned that to John. Always negotiate the fare before riding! Not after! 😉

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago

Maybe best to hand over the normal fare ..then pretend you cant speak English.or Cebuano! lol…Lots of foreigners cant ! if they can`t communicate with you , they cant overcharge you ! (:-))

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

I try to have exact change when possible. But, I also think that it can be worked out where you are not overcharged on this kind of thing, if you learn how to handle it the right way! 🙂

Peter
Peter
4 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

hi i have found if i give correct fare first then 2 php extra and say it is a tip. they are so happy and surprised to get a tip they dont think to try over charge.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
6 years ago

Bob; Learning the cost of the ride is more important to me, I know that from the Jeepney stop to my house is 15 pesos. When I get to my gate get out of the Trike with authority I’ll hand the driver the coins. If they try and tell me it’s more I smile and simply say; “Nice try.” Then we both laugh and go on our way. In a new area riding a Trike where the amount isn’t known to me I’ll hand him a bill and again with authority hold my hand out for change. I know there… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Absolutely, Paul, knowing the price ahead of time is a real important thing, no doubt. Another thing, like you say… if the guy gets you for P10 or something…. think about the big scheme of things.. how important is that P10 to you after all? But, I think it is important to get something like this taken care of, because if it is an every day thing, costs can really add up!

Richard
Richard
6 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

good.. me too.. I usual ask what cost to X.. sometimes it is “what you give?”.. if I know it is 40p and they say 100.. I say 60?
When it comes right down to it?.. it is cheap inexpensive transport and I only ride.. hope for the best yes.. but only ride..

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Indeed, about as cheap as you can get.

bigp
bigp
6 years ago

If I can get the Tricycle it will have a full load where as 12 of the local population can get in the same space, so maybe we should pay more.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  bigp

Are you talking about me now, BigP? 😉

jon.j.
jon.j.
6 years ago

I just give the correct fare and walk away, there is nothing the driver can do then.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  jon.j.

that is one way to go, for sure! But, in cases where you don’t have exact change, it may not be so effective. 😉

Steve Baker
Steve Baker
6 years ago

Interesting comments. My time in the Philippines has been concentrated in Laguna. I have used Jeepneys, Tricycles and even Pedicabs, and have never been overcharged. I don’t speak Tagalog (yet!) but I always travel with my Fiance and she takes good care of me. I let her handle most financial transactions! I think I would feel much more vulnerable alone, though…but so far no problems! At restaurants my Fiance always gets mad at me for what she feels are excessive tips, but hey, that’s another discussion!

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve Baker

We don’t have many pedicabs in Davao anymore! They are kind of a thing of the past here. 🙂

Like you, I don’t get overcharged, and I am thankful for that. I travel alone most times… living here permanently, it is not like I go everywhere with my wife in tow. So, in a situation like that, you have to be able tohandle things!

Richard
Richard
6 years ago
Reply to  Steve Baker

haha.. should hear my lady when she thinks I am being charged “Kano” rate.. I sure hope I never give her reason she thinks she
needs to talk to me that way!!!

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Ha ha. Sounds like punishment time for the taxi or trike driver.

Robert Elliott
6 years ago

Its great article Bob thanks for sharing your insight. I think part of the solution is to behave like you live here. When ever we go anywhere in a tricycle or multicab we just hand the driver the normal rate. 8 peso for a trike ride and short multicab ride. This takes away any chance for the driver to charge more. If we are going on a route that is outside the norm for the area then we will ask the driver before boarding his trike. Often the price they quote would be the same for a taxi so we… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Robert Elliott

Glad you enjoyed the article, Robert. Here in Davao, thenormal trike fare is P7, not P8… so that is a perfect example that you have to actually know what the fare is! 🙂 Having the proper change is important too, if possible! If I am going to an area where Id on’t usually go, I usually ask another passenger how much the fare should be, which is a good source of information! 🙂 The City of Davao did not change the Taxi rates.. it was changed by the LTFRB on a national basis. The flag down rate is now P30… Read more »

Luke Tynan
Luke Tynan
6 years ago

Good Morning Bob, When I was visiting here in Gingoog City I was hit with this a lot. I ended up talking to my Father-in-Law about it. And he smiled and gave me some advise (not sure that this will apply to other places. And it is simple 1) All of them are required to have a # on the tricycle. 2) They are required to post the fares in the passenger area in plane sight. 3) Do not get mad nor talk mad to the driver. 4) note the Tricycle # and bring it to him or the police.… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Luke Tynan

Good strategy, Luke! Yes, mentioning to the driver that you will take his trike number and report him will usually get a quick change of attitude!

Luke Tynan
Luke Tynan
6 years ago

Plus I forgot to add I also have my Philippine (Gingoog City issued) Senior Citizen card and I use it for the reduced fare. And I think that tells the drive I am a local and it makes a non issue now.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Luke Tynan

Hmm… I don’t want to get into the whole senior citizen card discussion, because those are never ending arguments… but I just want to let you know, Luke, that under current Philippine law it is illegal for you to have or use a Senior Citizen Card.

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