Sunday, March 11, 2012

10 ways how auto/taxi drivers cheat you

While I do have sympathy for those who earn their daily bread through manual sweat and toil(sympathy to the extent that I do not usually bargain), that does not extend to those who exploit/cheat their customers. Having dealt with auto/taxi drivers in 3 metros and 2 other state capitals, below are some ways where the unwary can be fooled. Some ways are well known, while others are not. There is, however, no substitute for asking a friend/other resident of the city about how the system works, so that you are not fleeced.
  1. Forged Tariff Cards-fake tariff cards are prepared for those customers who imagine that they will only play by the book!
  2. Rigged Meters-this is the most standard practice, sometimes even in Mumbai.
  3. Stating the meter reading instead of the fare, in the hope that passenger will pay it-A joke goes as follows, 'A person enters the opticians shop and asks the price of a specs. The optician tells him Rs 200...and then seeing no reaction..says for the 'lens'..and then seeing no reaction..says 'each' and so on! So sometimes, the driver bends the rules a bit and hopes the passenger is price insensitive and will pay the meter reading without converting it to rupees! This is true for cities like Ahmedabad also.
  4. Taking longer routes than necessary-sometimes if the driver feels the passenger does not know the route, he may take a longer route to ensure higher meter reading(remember the meter is well over marginal cost!)
  5. 'No Change'-Driver pretends that he does not have change, this is usually done for small amounts(say 10% of the fare) so that the customer will not feel like taking so much effort for getting it back.
  6. Charging night fare beyond the timings-Some drivers charge fare even for journeys starting before/after the night time window as declared by the Road Transport Office(RTO). Ensure you know the timings before agreeing to pay more.
  7. Appeal to sympathy as 'boni'/'first fare of day'(for non metered fares):-Unlike other vendors who give a reasonable rate during boni, these guys use it as an excuse to loot. That is why I am adamant against paying boni, as many drivers are fluent liars.
  8. Charging for luggage/waiting:-There are specific tariff rules for those cases, so ensure you know that. Mostly, luggage is NOT charged extra in taxi/auto.
  9. Taking 'sharing passengers' after charging entire fare from you-I have nothing against better capacity utilization if it does not make me uncomfortable, but ensure that you reduce the price you offer the driver accordingly. This happens at airports mostly when the supply constraint holds.
  10. Not dropping you at doorstep after negotiated fare:-This is especially true for complexes etc where drivers may not want to go inside. But if they decide to halt at the gate(even though the society rules permit them to enter), deduct some amount accordingly for the added inconvenience/distance you are facing, IF the driver has refused to go inside. 
Customers can fight back by
  1. Using services like G-Auto of Ahmedabad which have minimal service charges and allow booking by phone also
  2. Finding out approximate fare, and negotiating it-stay firm despite any emotional pleas etc. 
  3. Not succumbing to tactics like 'fare recently changed'etc. 

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