4 Common Taxi Scams
in Buenos Aires
If you think you’re getting the run-around, you probably are. It’s one of the top four scams taxi drivers try to pull on tourists. Follow these tips to avoid getting scammed!
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The taxi drivers, or taxistas, in Buenos Aires, can be a very tricky group to deal with. For every honest taxi driver, there seems to be two more who are out to get you. Here are some of the common scams to look out for.
1. Unofficial Cabs
Never, ever take a cab that is not labeled “Radio Taxi.” Cabs marked “Radio Taxi” are registered with the government, have unique cab numbers and are required by law to post certain laws and regulations related to taxis in their cab. These taxis are usually yellow and black. However, there are a lot of unofficial cabs that paint their cars to look like Radio Taxis, but are not registered with the government. Usually, the worst they will do is grossly overcharge you for your ride, but the extra sketchy drivers will also rob you.
2. The Run-Around
This is a favourite scam of taxi drivers around the world, and Buenos Aires is no different. They figure tourists have no idea where they are or where they are going, so they take you for the scenic route and really milk that meter. There are a few ways to avoid this. First, try to give a cross street instead of just an address. For example “Las Heras 3500” might just be an address you wrote down but are not familiar with, while “Las Heras y Scalabrini Ortiz” shows that you have at least a vague idea of where you are headed. If you really do know where you are going, suggest a route. If you want to sound polite, pose it as a question, “We can just take Santa Fe all the way down to Scalabrini, right?” or something along those lines. Worse comes to worst, you can also carry a map and make it clear you are following along.
You should always avoid paying for cabs with bills larger than a 50, and most drivers will get annoyed with anything over a 20. Argentina has issues with counterfeit bills, but it is unlikely you will end up with one as long as you get your large bills from banks. However, taxi drivers will try to convince you otherwise. When you hand a driver a 100 peso bill, they will switch it with a counterfeit one and tell you it is fake and they cannot accept it. The driver pockets your original 100 peso bill and then makes you pay the fare on top of that. Like I said, the best way to avoid this is to not use large bills. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get your hands on smaller bills in Argentina, so sometimes you don’t have a choice. If a 100 peso bill is all you have, make sure you warn the driver as soon as you get in, otherwise you risk not getting enough change back (the driver will claim he doesn’t have enough) at the end of your ride. Also, before you hand the driver the bill, take a look at the serial number. If he tries to give you a counterfeit bill, call him out on it.
4. Off the Meter Charges
Some taxi drivers will try to convince you that you owe more than is on the meter. This is almost never true, but there are some exceptions. If you call a cab, there are fare minimums and the company will also charge a call-in fee. However, they should tell you how much this is on the phone so you know up front. Some companies will charge you an extra fee if they take you out into the suburbs of the city so that they can cover the gas back. That’s a pretty bad business practice, but not exactly illegal. Once again, the extra amount should be discussed up front. If the fee was not mentioned at the beginning of the ride – don’t pay it.
If you ever encounter a Radio Taxi driver who tries any of these scams (or others), write down the cab number (which by law must be on display) and call their Radio Taxi company to report them. Not only will this usually scare the taxi driver into giving up on the scam, you can also try to keep them from scamming others.