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Singapore Taxi Negotiations

Singapore taxis prices are very reasonable and most are clean and well maintained. Their attitude is often business cool. When it comes to paying be aware there maybe extra charges. I accept these as an offset for tips, as they don't expect any. The Singapore taxi system is controlled under well defined regulations.

Here are few guidelines:

  • The taxis are always metered, unless you negotiate a fix price.
  • There are predetermined extra amounts from predetermined places, such as: from the airport to the hotel.
  • There are predetermined extra amounts, at specific times of day, example, during rush hours.
  • All taxis have the same mileage/time rate, even the very nice Mercedes Benz taxis. However, the Mercedes Benz taxi may have an extra flat charge. Ask before you get in, and decide for your self if the high class ride is worth the high class extra flat charge. I was told there was a $10 Singapore dollar extra charge. However, it was worth it because it was Friday night, I was going to dinner, and the traffic was slow, really slow. It being in a nice car made it more enjoyable.

Point is, ask what the extra charges are, then there will not be any surprises, nor bad feelings, when it comes time to pay.

Negotiations with Asians:

  • Most everything is negotiable.
  • Be prepared to walk away and get another taxi if you do not like the deal. Most places and times, it is straight forward to get another taxi.
  • Negotiate the price before getting in the taxi. Else, he may drive off and then tell what the price is with you in a weaker position to say no.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be pleasant.
  • Taxi drivers do busy every time someone gets into their vehicle; they are good at negotiations.
  • They avoid confrontation. They like to save face for both themselves and you.
  • The driver and you are trying to get a good price, just that the driver's good price maybe higher than your good price.

If you have a pleasant conversational taxi driver, ask him to drive around the city. After a Friday night dinner, I said to the driver, "Singapore is a great city. Drive through to downtown tall buildings." The driver felt good to hear I liked his city, and he proudly took on the role of tour guide, telling me interesting points and showing me places I had not seen before. Again, well worth the extra $10 Singapore dollars.

Good luck, keep your cool, be happy.

Beijing Taxi Negotiations

In the evening, I went with friends to a few bars. The friend who spoke Mandarin, sat up front instructing the driver. When the taxi started moving, my friend opened the window. It was December and I was freezing in the back seat.

"Some of the drivers stay in their taxi for days, sleeping in the car and not showering," he explained. "I like to clear the air when I get in."

His explanation also answer my question of the odd smell.

Working for a large American corporation, Sun Microsystems, I was picked up at the airport by a pre-arranged driver that my company has an agreement with. The next day, the host manager rented a van, and a group of us went to the Great Wall of China. In China it is common to hire a driver for a few hours or for the day. A word of advise when going to a popular spot on the Great Wall of China on the weekend, get there by 9:00am or you will be in lines up to get on the wall, and in lines once on the wall. Note, at some locations there are lifts to the higher point of the wall, to the most scenic location.

Don't let the driver start driving until you are very sure he knows where to go. Mostly the driver will likely refuse to take you if they do not know where to go. I thought a paper map would help, but the driver but my Beijing experienced friend told me that it won't help because they cannot read a map. I countered with the point that the map was in Chinese. The problem is that the drivers are not educated enough to use a map. They either know where to go, or they do not. It was 5 drivers before I found one that knew how to get to my destination. Note, this was in 2008, so, with Google Maps being active in China, I imagine this is not such a problem.

In Beijing, the drivers always used the meter, so this was not a question nor a problem. However, to be sure, watch that they turn the meter on.

Kuala Lumpur Taxi Negotiations

Kuala Lumpur, KL as it is commonly called, is a Malaysian city that is the same as other cities of the world, except different. The business language is English however the local Malaysian language is Bahasa Melayu. Fortunately it uses the same alphabet as English which makes it easier than countries, such as China, which use special characters.

Taxi notes that are same as other cities:

  • When you arrive at the airport, in the arrival hall, get a pre-paid taxi to your destination. If you are feeling rich, there are limos; I like the black Mercedes Benz myself.
  • Bring with you the name and address of the hotel because the city is large with many district that may have multiple hotels of the same hotel chain. I suggest bringing a map or a printout from an Internet map.
  • Once at the hotel, get a local area map with the hotel card before going out.
  • Before getting in with the driver, be sure the driver knows where you are going; they will always say they know, but they may not.
  • The drivers prefer a fixed charge, which is 2 or 3 times the charge of a metered ride. Their excuses, "It is late at night," "The traffic is heavy," Don't listen, insist meter, or maybe settle for 10 ringgit because it is a small amount anyway for us travelers. I had a meter ride in a taxi, 3.25 ringgit. later that night, the next driver wanted me to pay 15 to go back; I said no, how about 10? He said no. I said, "Look at all the other taxis here." Another did accpet 10.

If they insist on a fixed price, negotiate it to a price you are comfortable with, and go for it. Don't worry about 5 ringgit (about a dollar) here or there, they are only trying to make a living. And anyway, how far will a taxi driver in America drive you forl $1? No where.

Most Maylasian drivers where pleasant, the negotiations reasonable. But if you don't like the taxi or the driver, say no and get another, there are lots.

Manila, Philippines Taxi Negotiations

Arriving in Manila international airport for the first time is an wondrous experience, as in, I wonder how to get a reasonable priced taxi to the my hotel in all this chaos. The signs were minimal, the people somewhat helpful. They all speak a reasonable level of English. So, speak up and speak at a reasonable speed, and they will understand you.

Looking around, I found a sign to get the taxi. The sign had fixed prices for key sections of Metro Manila. Note, Manila is made up of a number of cities. I was not going far, I was going to Pasay City, near the Great Asian Mall. The price said 300 to 350 pesos. The co-ordinator picked the highest price and called a taxi driver. To put it plainly, this is bullshit. If by meter, the price is about 100 pesos. A friend of mine said insist on meter, or get another taxi driver. I was too tired and I was using business expense, so I did not argue; the company could aford the $7 US dollars.

Rules for taxis in Manila:

  1. Insist on the meter or get another taxi. There is lots of taxis, no need to get taken for a ride regarding the fare.
  2. Carry small bills. Check that you have change or the driver has change. Else the driver may say he has no change and that he wants to keep the extra 200 pesos on 300 peso charge, if all you have is a 500 peso bill (about $10 USD). If he has no change and you have only large bills, get another taxi or get small bills. The hotels likely handle currency exchange to help you out. Good to carry a number of 100 peso bills.
  3. Do not get into the taxi until he has agreed to meter, and you or he has change. If you get in and then start to negotiations, he will take off and start driving which puts you into a weak negotiation position.

Remember:

  1. As soon as you say, "No thanks, I will get another taxi," you will be amazed at how your negotiation strength increases, and you get a better deal. If not, get another taxi. Be reasonable, no need to negotiate over 50 cents, let it go.
  2. Tip is based on task, not on a percentage of fare. 20 peso for short, or 50 peso for a long ride, should be enough. And if you feel generous, give what you feel like, it is money into a poor economy, a little help, never hurts.

All in all, the taxi drivers are okay. Enjoy your trip, stay safe, be happy.

Side note, visitors are not allowed into the Manila airport terminal, which makes for less people traffic. unless you want to meet someone, then you need to enter a gateway area, or exist (let the attendant know), meet your guest and come back into the terminal to get a taxi.

Mexico City Taxi Negotiations

Preparing to fly to Mexico City, I asked about taxis service. I was warned about the Green Taxis, green as in green in color of the taxi. I was told, no green. The locals, the natives of Mexico, said the authorized airport taxis are safe, for a reasonable standard price.

My instructions:

  • After arriving, and leaving immigration and customs, when entering the departure hall, turn right. There are signs with the word Taxi, and the taxi symbol, to follow.
  • Go through the glass doors, and on the immediate left is the yellow booth for the yellow taxis named sito. These are authorized airport taxis.
  • Tell the person, at the booth, the hotel you are going to. They give you a price, you pay them, they give you a ticket.
  • Walk down 20-30 feet, a taxi driver meets you, takes part of your ticket, you keep the rest as your reciept.
  • The driver drives to your destination. Tip or not. A local said 20 to 40 pesos fine.
  • My taxi ride experience in Mexico City was safe and fine.
  • On the return trip from the hotel to the airport, I used a hotel arranged limo. More expensive, 300 pesos to the airport verses 200 from the airport, but safe and comfortable.

Use the word Taxi. In foreign countries, foreign to Canada or the USA, use the word taxi as it a univerisal word. The word cab is a North American word, not as common outside Canada and the USA.

Good travels, stay safe.

Taxis in India

In Bangalore and Hyderabad, there are taxi services you can hire for multiple days. This is handy because it is not always easy to find a taxi. When taking a taxi from the hotel, ask the price before you leave, and keep the driver with you. I took a taxi from 10:00am to 10:00pm.

While working from 5:00pm to 9:30pm, the driver waited in the office parking lot for me. I was gratiful to see him because it was dark, late, and there where no other taxis in the area.

Indian Driver