Taxi Scams Suck

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It was bound to happen again, and I was expecting it. This morning, it did - I met another taxi scammer. The modus operandi? They call it "Batingting", named after the fact that the taxi's meter has been tampered with. Here's how it works.

A taxi's meter gets modded, in the same way we mod our gaming consoles, except instead of cheating software publishers of their money, the taxi drivers get to cheat particularly naive passengers. They rig a button somewhere in the car, which when pressed, fucks up the counters of the taxi. Here's the standard computation for a taxi fare:

Base Fare: 30 Pesos for the first 500 meters.
Mobile Increment: 2.50 Pesos for every 300 meters.
Steady Increment: 2.50 Pesos for every 2.5 minutes
Final Increment: 10 Pesos

From what I understand, both iterators run in parallel, and only increase the total fare once the 300 meters or 2.5 minutes marks are reached. The racket? The "batingting" button adds false distance to your travel time, making your fare increase unnecessarily.

I've been taking taxis to and from work for a very long time, and I've been traveling the same route to the office for almost 4 years now. I know the progression of the taxi meter by heart. My average taxi fare to work on a heavy traffic day never goes over 80 pesos even with the final increment.

This morning, I was actually happy because there was no traffic where I usually get stuck in traffic. I've already gotten past the place where I normally reach 40 pesos in the meter with only 32.50 in the meter.

Then, bullshit happened.

The drive started fixing something on the lower right wall beside the gas pedal. I heard him flick a switch three times. Last time I checked, Toyota doesn't put any buttons there for very practical reasons (i.e. not get the driver killed). Sure, my '81 Isuzu Gemini had a manual compressor switch in that same location, but the car looked no more than 5 years old.

A few seconds later, I checked the meter, it was already at 40 pesos.

Remember the algorithm? The two iterators run in parallel, but even if they increment at the same time, there's no way in hell the fare can jump 7.50 pesos in a heartbeat. We passed another intersection, it was already at 47.50. That's six iterations in less than 300 meters, in a matter of minutes.

My bullshit detector when crazy.

I decided to just let him take me somewhere near my office, but not exactly my office. For my case, the corner of Taft-Faura was okay already. I told him I'd be getting off already, but I will not be paying. He did not react at once, but asked why moments later. I told him nonchalantly, there's nothing to pay. He raised his voice and asked "Ano?" with an intimidating tone. I repeated my words and told him, "Kung may problema tayo, punta tayo dun sa may pulis para matingnan natin yang metro mo." He didn't say a word after that. I took a photo of his license plate and side-decoration for good measure as I got off and pretended I was getting in touch with a "tita" in the Traffic bureau.

Kinda ironic because just yesterday I was talking to another taxi driver ranting about how these cheating bastards are giving the remaining honest 5% in the taxi driver population a bad name.

If I weren't trying to catch my afternoon work time-in, I would've loved to really go further and ask for money from the guy as compensation. Maybe next time. There's always a next time, and I can feel it in my guts.

Here are things you need to watch out for to uncover scams like this:
- Increments greater than 5 pesos.
- Frequent increments
- The driver playing around with his radio, aircon, stickshift, or for this case, somewhere under his steering wheel.

If you're sure it's a scam, ask to be dropped off at the next safe location you pass by, then politely give the guy a dirty finger, or if possible, a new asshole c/o a .45 slug.

Taxi in the article: TYG237 Junife Taxi

1 comment:

rei said...

whoaaaah~ thanks for the info.. @_@


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