Re: Taxi Drivers - sharp practice


I must admit, I have become numb to the cabs and overall insane driving habits of Argentina. Over a year back, the first time I stepped off the plane and into a cab, I think I closed my eyes most of the way to the city. I recall my first impression was that traffic laws and speed limits simply just don't exhist here. I wonder why they even bother painting lines in the roads. Now when I visit the states, it's like people are driving in slow motion, as if they have nowhere to go. I always considered myself an agressive driver, but these streets are another animal altogether.
Does anyone else feel the same, or is this just one of those stubborn Argentine things to accept and move on? How many more families have to die on the highways until they re-think the driver-education or penalty system down here? I know accidents happen all over the world, but when I see an accident on the NEWS here , there is rarely anything left of the vehicle (s)


Death on the roads? fraid you just have to live with it. I saw a news report on the 8th Jan reporting 50 deaths in Buenos Aires province so far this year.
I do not know what the figure stands at now but I suspect 6-7 a day will not be far off the mark. I think the Argentines believe when your day comes then that is it, so why bother being careful.
I try to look for the taxis that look well looked after, but that is no guarantee. I caught one that looked pristine and it stalled at every junction, causing some hairy moments.Obviously not yet my day.


I totally agree with Paul L, be sure to stop when there is a crowd and preferably policemen.
An acclaration to all of you americans: This doesn't happen to you as foreigners but to the whole population. As soon as I take a cab, I do two or three things that I highly recommend

1) Detail the way you'd like to get there, e.g. please take el bajo, libertador, then turn right on xyz and then...I know it's a bore and not that easy for just arrived foreigners but it works and avoids detouring. It's my common practice and I'm argentinean. If you leave it to themselves....who knows (Philcar o Lumy should be THE component of your handbag). I remind you not all of them might want to cheat you but there are plenty of new taxidrivers out there who don't know the city and won't acknowledge it. So rule of thumb, do your homework.
2) Ask in ADVANCE if they have any change, so there'll be no cheating nor insults once you get there. More and more often they want to get paid with exact change as if we were taking a bus.
3) Just casually you can drop the following comment, Any idea how much it can cost to xyz?

Hope it helps,


I have been in BA for only 2 weeks and nearly every cab I've gotten has ripped me off. This is a very frustrating matter. My Spanish is only good enough to offer the exact address. I simply don't know the city well enough to give a detailed route. That said why should I have to?
I'm from NYC and have in 10 yrs been taken for "a ride" a hand full of times. Here it's ridiculous. I've taken only the radio taxi which everyone seems to tout. They've repeatedly run the "I'm new/lost/didn't understand" routine. Just finished with a guy who was given explicit directions from my BA who got dropped off first and then took a completely different turn. I ended up just getting out after I realized what had happened and walked home 30 mins. out of frustration. I have traveled a lot. This city is very special with it's taxi situation. Never have I experienced this consistency with scams from drivers.


If there ever was an example where a little Spanish goes a long way, this is it! When I get in a cab I always say "Beunas" and then "Ida (pronounced "eeda") a la esquina de ( and then the streets)..."Esmeralda y Santa Fe" (for example), and "por favor". I also trill my R's just enough not so instantly identify myself as a foreigner. I usually am already on a street that is on or close to a direct route to my destination. I can also say "vamos al Cordoba y Colonel Diaz, por favor" (for example, when going to Palermo from Recoleta or Ritiro). If you look at a map before you get in a taxi and know the name(s) of the major street(s) that lead to your destination, you will be far less likely to be "taken for a ride". That has only happened to me twice in two years. Ironically, one of those times was on the way to an expats dinner. If I had looked at a map before taking the taxi, I would have used the subway instead and only have to walk a few blocks from the nearest stop to the restaurant! Live and learn....and watch out for the driver who won't accept a ten peso note because the edge is torn. He may be trying to get you to give him a larger denomination and then not give the correct change, and he may even have switched the bill in the front seat where you couldn't see him do it. This happened to me once. I just gave him another ten peso note and he said there was something wrong with it, too. The only other note I had was a hundred and he wanted me to give it to him. I just said no and got out of the taxi. He scowled, said something I did not understand, and than drove away. Ten minutes later I presented the first rejected bill at a grocery store and it was accepted with minimal scrutiny and no objections.


Buenos Aires is the "City of Fury", endless frustrations that never needed to happen. Today i had a fight trying to get change for a 2 peso note (i was a customer). they refused, rudely.
Its hard to punish or turn anyone in here. the kirchners keep money in Switzerland and get away with it, there has never been a trial or public hearing for the crogmanon disco fire (were public inspectors bribed? we may never ever know.). I reported several well known discos that had no non smoking section. it was ALL smoking. one was basically a restaurant and they had no non smoking section. my denuncias went nowhere. no doubt due to bribery.
sounds like i went off on a tangent, but i didnt. all of these things stem from the same culture. why they cant put garbage cans in front of their house, why they cant use the red round mail boxes, why they cant have a govt. car inspection system, why passengers cant get a taxi driver in trouble, fast and swift. nope. just try getting justice or standing up for your rights here.


Quoting "JG":
". . . . all of these things stem from the same culture. . . . just try getting justice or standing up for your rights here."
An Argentine friend of mine once observed, "We have the best laws, and the worst enforcement." The key, then, as JG has indicated, is the culture: laws are easily enacted, changed, repealed; but, culture? How does one change culture for the better? Only by trying to set a better example himself, I think, even if that often feels futile or foolish.


You have my word, that only a day after reading this thread and posting my comment, i met friends of mine from the usa who are visiting for a week. as we were finding a taxi to take us to recolleta, one told me how theyd been "ripped off" 3 times so far in taxis.
we get in a taxi and after a while we realize the meter is running fast. i could swear i saw it jump at one point from 6 to 8 pesos. then my friend, who is from another s. american country, explained to the driver that he thought the meter was running too fast. the driver basically responded by telling my friend he didnt know what he was talking about. then my friend calmly said, no they had taken this exact route other times and he felt the meter was too fast.
i sat there and didnt say a word, letting him handle it. then the driver looks at the meter and says ''thanks for telling me, the sensor is broken". he turns off the meter and said it would be 15 pesos. my friend said that was higher than normal, then the driver said 10.
i still laugh when i think how it transpired. the driver had a rigged meter to cheat passengers and lied right to our face shamelessly. But in the end my friend won. it reminds me of the many many times ive been cheated here and when i was lucky enough to catch "the mistake", they thanked me for finding the error.
how about this for an ending to my post: "Huff"!


The first time last night I got a bent taxista. A journey that normally costs $15 I saw the meter reach $24 by the end of Gascon, when I challenged the driver he said I was no2 tarif.
The argument continued but in the end I agreed to pay him $20, then the cheeky ****** gave me his card.
Watch out for City Tax 4585 5544 Just read the card and it says "No cobramos adicional" Do they understand irony?


These follwing basic tips are what I learned on my own here, and they apply worldwide:

1. First you ought to know basically where you are and where you want to go, and the best way to get there. You can ask someone on the street, in a store, newspaper man, etc, just BEFORE flagging down a cab.
2. Try to CALL for a cab, even as you see it go by. Tell the dispatcher where you are, the cab number you are looking at, and your destination and ASK THEM APPROX. COST of the trip.
3. When opening cab door, BEFORE hopping in, ASK THEM how much it costs to go to your destination. (mas o menos-at least a more or less guestimate) That will cap his fare, and his first quick answer will likely be the truth, not an inflated rate.
4. Once you have those 1 or 2 estimates (and you should have a PRIOR 3rd estimate either by experience or asking a friend or passerby) then you tell the cab driver "GOOD because that´s ALL I HAVE on me!!! (you should prepare that EXACT amount in a separate pocket)
Once you tell him that´s your limit and you have no extra cash, he can´t hold you accountable for taking a longer detour. All you say is "You told me X pesos and I told you that´s all I have."
Don´t feel bad if you need to pay less than the meter, if you know he stiffed you. They WILL NEVER hail a cop, and the cop will be on YOUR SIDE anyway.
But that won´t ever happen, much less with all these precautions.
(BTW "sharp practice" here is called "avivada" or "viveza criolla", meaning local wise-guy street-smart people praying on the inocent decent victims.)