On Air

Money Saving Monday: Taxi Fares

by Will Johnson
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I find myself using taxis almost every month, whether it be for short commutes after Charlotte Bobcats games back home or getting to my hotel once I’ve landed at an airport.  It is very important to be aware of your surroundings and taxi meter rules while the driver is transporting you from place to place, so here are some helpful tips for next time you ride in a taxi…

1.) The meter itself is an important part of the process of charging you for using the taxi.  Check to make sure a small metal loop is securely attached to the meter (typically it is in the lower corner of the meter).  If it isn’t , then a taxi driver or someone else has tampered with the mechanics of the meter and can overcharge you.

2.) The taxi meter also has words that light up depending on what time of day it is and other miscellaneous reasons.  In North Carolina and maybe other states, the Time-Off Light is used during the Weekdays when there is typically heavier traffic.  From 7 – 9 AM and 4 – 6 PM, the Time-Off is used for traffic wait time for stopped or slow traffic.  During these times, the words “TIME-OFF” should not be illuminated since the meter will charge you even if you are at at red light.  “TIME-OFF” should always be illuminated if you are being driven around and it is not these times of days.  I know I’ve been tried to be charged numerous times for this on the weekends by taxi drivers, so be on the look-out.  They might tell you that you are wrong, but contact the Taxi Company if they keep on objecting.  The time-off charge is .50 cents per minute here in Charlotte, which can add up quickly!

3.) Taxi Drivers typically know how to get around the city effortlessly.  But, when you know your way around a town and know a better direction of how to get to your destination, let the taxi driver know it immediately.  Your directions trump theirs (even if you might be wrong), so let them know so that they aren’t charging you extra for taking you the long route in the city.

4.) A big group of people can give you somewhat of a discount as well.  In Charlotte, a taxi will charge you $2.00 per person for more people over 2.  Before you start riding in the van taxi, talk with the driver about a standard flat fee, especially if you are going to a far destination longer than +5-10 miles.  With the flat fee, you can ensure yourselves that traffic or longer routes won’t raise your total, and you can split the cab fair with your friends/family to make it even cheaper.

5.) DO NOT throw up or spill beverages/food in the taxi.  The taxi drivers can charge you ridiculous amounts of fees just to clean it up.  These fees start around $100 and can go up to $250!

6.) Make sure your taxi that you flag down is a legitimate one in your city.  Some drivers have taxis that aren’t licensed by a state, and they can overcharge you or be unwanted individuals.

7.) Always be polite to the taxi driver.  The cab drivers should be courteous with you as well, which will make your ride much more comfortable.

8.) Try to eliminate small errands while the meter is running on your taxi.  Getting money out of an ATM or picking up groceries can add a lot of money to your meter total because the “TIME-OFF” button is used for these purposes.

9.) File all of your complaints with the Taxi Cab Company, and make sure you get the Driver’s ID number too.  The company can’t do anything about a bad experience if they don’t have the necessary information to process your complaint.

10.) Tipping a taxi driver is not mandatory, but you should definitely tip them something for their driving since this is how they make most of their money.  15-20% is standard.  Get the driver’s phone number if he or she is a good one and call them personally if you need them again.  You can build a relationship with him or her, and in turn, maybe get some reduced fairs for the return business and word-of-mouth comments to your friends/family about your taxi driver!

Have any more tips to save money while using taxis?  Post them below in the Comments Section…

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