We were just in Italy and found that in Rome, you really have to watch the taxi drivers. We were short-changed twice (that we know of). My husband gave the driver 20 euro but the driver quickly put it away and in an instant, was holding a 5 Euro and saying we still owed him more. so watch out!
Thanks for the heads up! That's yet one more thing to watch for.
The taxi meters start when they receive the call, so that's why there is already an amount on the meter. Unfortunately, we had to use taxis because of my husband's disability. We think we only were shortchanged twice so it didn't really spoil our time there.
If you call for a taxi the meter starts once the call is received. You can walk to a taxi stand if you are worried about that. After 10p the meter starts at about 5e. Taxi drivers pull scams in all cities so be on your toes.
I think Rick Steves said this in his Prague book, but why not other places too. He said if a driver over charges you, pay him the amount you think is fair and say you will not pay his crazy amount! What can the driver do to you anyway? It's the driver that is the criminal!
It pays to have an idea of how to get where you want to go and a variety of bills/coins on hand.
Whenever I get a taxi, I first ask how much it will be to take me to a place. If it's acceptable, I say OK and hop in. If it's too much I say so and consider other options (sometimes I don't have any other than to say, "That much to drive three miles?! I'll walk!"). As we're driving, I decide how much tip I'll add and have exact change ready. If the meter goes a little over what he told me, I pay it but it either reduces or eliminates his tip. If it's way over, I argue.
I find, wherever you go, if you appear lost or drunk, you are ripe for the plucking. I've had waiters, ticket salespeople, clerks and taxi-drivers all try to shortchange me at one time or another. When I catch them, they usually plead an innocent mistake (may or may not be true), fortunately I haven't yet had the one where they swear you didn't give them the bill you just gave them.
Though it's true the meter starts when a taxi driver receives the call, this does not apply at taxi stands where drivers are waiting. Tourists should familiarize themselves with the local taxi drop rate. I have had the experience of getting in a Rome taxi at a taxi stand and noticing from the start the meter was already at 8 euros or something. I pointed this out right away to the driver and he just shrugged and mumbled something. When we got out he tried to charge for the amount on the meter but didn't argue when it was clear I had a different amount in mind. We rode in cabs many times in Rome and didn't have other bad experiences, but it's important to pay attention to the meter and when paying.
Two taxi drivers attempted to scam me when I was in Rome in August. The first one had the tariff set to "2" instead of "1" so that the meter ran faster. During the daytime, the meter should read Tariffa 1 (this number is in the lower left corner of most meters). Tariff 2 is used after 10:00 pm (I think). I pointed out this "misunderstanding" to the driver as soon as I noticed--about 2 minutes into the trip. He changed the meter to tariff "1" and took 2 euro off the final bill of 8 euro, so I felt vindicated.
The second time, we jumped into a non-metered taxi (which from the outside looked exactly the same as the metered taxis). As we started driving, I asked how much to our destination. The driver wanted 16 euros, which was twice the 8 euros we paid in a meter taxi for the same trip. We made the driver pull over & let us out when he wouldn't agree to 8 euros.
The other half dozen taxi rides were uneventful, so just stay on your toes and don't be afraid to question the driver if things don't seem right.
"He said if a driver over charges you, pay him the amount you think is fair and say you will not pay his crazy amount! What can the driver do to you anyway? It's the driver that is the criminal!"
Hmmm. I like that, taking charge that way. Maybe we need Rick Steves in the White House.
I like the way you think Patrick!!! Rick Steves would make the best president ever! I know that from reading his blogs!
One other heads up...prepare yourself. We were going to the airport early on our departure date and the driver was going 170 kilometres per hour! Yikes!
In my experience so far, I've found that the metered Taxis in Rome haven't been a problem. The metered cost seemed to be reasonable for the distance travelled and traffic conditions (I usually "round up" for a small tip).
On my last trip in April, I took a Taxi from Termini to the Trastevere area near Piazza Trilussa, and the driver got there fairly quickly (can't remember what the fare was?). He was using a GPS (which I was watching also) and he didn't waste any time.
However, slightly different story for the unmetered ones. On one occasion I decided to try an unmetered Taxi from the Vatican to an area near Piazza Navona (not that far, but I'd been walking all day and my feet HURT!). The first driver I approached said "€15", to which I replied "costa troppo" and started to walk away. Another one of the drivers called out and said "€10" which I accepted (under the circumstances, a bargain!).
Definitely something to watch for though!
We only used metered cabs in Rome. Next time, we'll just use the public transportation!
In Rome you need to only use those taxis that have an official approved logo on the sides of the front doors--looks like an emblem( a shield) with number inside. We made a mistake on one trip to Rome of walking out the wrong door of the train station and most of the cabs lined up were not legit. We were staying at a hotel that was actually walking distance to train station. He dropped us at our hotel and demanded 20 euros as payment. My husband ended up giving 15 euros after some arguing. Last trip to Rome we stayed off Via Corso which was 5 or 6 miles from station--taxi driver charged 10 euros--this taxi, of course, had the emblem on the door.
Yes, always look for cabs with the seal of the Comune di Roma and a number. They should also have a badge attached to the license plate. If you get in a cab and don't see a meter--get out.
this happens everywhere, not just in rome. the most important thing you can do is Hold the bill to show before handing it over - that way you know what to expect back and the driver and you both know what it is he is taking. I always verbally say (in italian)what i am handing over - showing the euro mark and then counting the change given back to me to show i know what to expect in change.
I agree with John. I always "verbally" say the number--even in the U.S.
This way the cashier and I are seeing the same amount.
We fell for the bill denomination switch 3 times...first taxi ride in Rome, buying a Vaparetto ticket when we first arrived in Venice, and the first time we gased up the rental car. All were new experiences to us and we were distracted trying to sort things out. A shame but we just smiled and put it down as part of the experience.
Crooks. Hard to guard against it. Fortunately, we only got ripped once, from the train station to our hotel. As planned we walked everywhere. I think it is the best way to see a city and immerse yourself in a differnet culture. The taxi from our hotel to the airport was a flat fee, no extra charge for bags. Driver drove like the proverbial bat!
One more good reason to figure out the buses in Rome, which between that, the Metro, and walking; I found is all I ever need.
Have never really had a problem with taxi's in Rome. Once after arriving at Termini, I asked a taxi how much it was to Piazza Navona and he told me 40 euro and I basically walked away and found one driving past, put my arm up and he stopped and told me 15 euro. That was probably way to much also but at least it wasn't 40!!!!!
Rick's advice reminds me of being in Mexico as a kid.
Cops can charge you a mordida (sort of on-the-spot fine) if you are caught doing something wrong. If you think the mordida is excessive you ask for his boss (essentially call the police). If the mordida is fair and you won't pay it, you will probably go to jail. If the mordida is excessive, the cop is in trouble. We used to call the cops and watch the expression on our cop's face. If he looked confident, we just paid him and left. If he knew he was asking too much, he would usually just let us go.
Along the same line, don't ever be a witness to a traffic accident in Mexico. You could easily end up in jail until the insurance is straightened out.
Wierd system. Somehow it makes sense when you live there (I lived in San Diego).