I’ve praised taxi drivers in the “Queen City of the South” on this website in the past. I’m sorry that I now feel compelled to post this next story: “Corrupt Cebu City Cabbies,” but regulars readers of “Philippines Plus” know I always try to tell you the positives and negatives about living in the Philippines.
Scammer from Road Runner Taxi
My asawa and I recently made our third trip to the “Second City of the Philippines” via Cokaliong Shipping Lines. After 13 hours on the high seas we landed at Cokaliong’s port area and after an extremely long trek made it to the taxi area. We’ve taken metered cab rides from the port to our destination, The Travel Bee Pension House, about ten minutes away, several times.
I usually check the taxi’s meter as soon as I get inside to make sure the meter is on but failed to check this cab until we had gone about a block away. To my surprise the meter was already reading “334” pesos, $7.26!
“Why does your meter read 334?” I asked the driver. “We have only gone one block.”
The driver immediately cleared the meter but I still did not see it running; he “had forgotten” he told my wife. Right.
“If you’re not going to take us on the meter,” I informed the driver, “you can stop this taxi and we will get off now!”
The cabbie said something to my wife.
“He said he will take us to the hotel for 130, all inclusive.” my spouse informed me.
The driver, who operates a taxi for Road Runner in Cebu, was clearly trying to cheat us. But since we had already spent 13 hours on the boat we were anxious to check in to our hotel so I relented and said no more. I know that it never takes more than 100 pesos to reach the Travel Bee and was disappointed our trip had gotten off to a bad start.
Now I’ve read where some expats in the Philippines don’t care if they get cheated because of the “skin tax” or foreigner tax. I’m not one of those expats so if you don’t mind being cheated, then by all means, bend over and pay the extra money. It’s entirely your choice.
What the taxi driver from Road Runner doesn’t realize is that he would have gotten a generous tip for being honest and gotten more than the 130 he had requested.
More Corrupt Cebu City Cabbies
Unfortunately we discovered even more dishonest taxi drivers in Cebu when we arrived from a day trip to Bohol (more on that trip later) via the Super Cat Ferry.
It was around 7:45 pm before our Super Cat from Bohol arrived in Cebu City. We were one of the last passengers to get off the ferry and did not see any cabs in sight. We walked a short distance into the night outside the Port Terminal and found a whole line of taxis waiting.
I approached one driver and asked if he would take us to SM City Cebu on the meter.
“My meter is broken,” the cabbie announced.
We continued on walking through a crowded neighborhood near the port that definitely was not a safe area for any visitors, especially a foreign one.
“This is a bad area!” my wife exclaimed.
“Yes, it is,” I replied, “but we’re going on until we can find a taxi that will take us on meter.”
We walked another block through a city block teeming with locals, definitely attracting attention. We saw a taxi across the street. I opened the cab door and asked the driver if he would take us to SM City on meter. He would.
The honest driver received a generous 100 peso tip and informed us that we were indeed traveling through a very dangerous neighborhood.
The Honest Drivers
We used several Cebu City cab drivers throughout our week long visit to the “Queen City of the South,” all who took us to our destinations on the meter. On our trip back to the Cokaliong Terminal to return to Iloilo we boarded the taxi of one very friendly man who understood my English “slang” perfectly.
I told the driver about the trouble we had the night we got off the Super Cat. The driver informed me that many of the taxi drivers in the area will deliberately wait outside the terminal at night hoping they will hit “the jackpot.” He, too, told us that we had walked through a very dangerous area and told us what street to take if we ended up in that situation again. He also pointed out a nearby police station where he said we could have complained to the police and they would have gotten us a taxi that would go on “meter”‘ which is the law here. I thanked him for the information and had my asawa give him a generous tip, too.
Yes, it might seem that I’m complaining about a small amount of money, but it’s the principle of the thing that irks me the most. Like I said before, I’ve read of some expats who don’t mind being cheated and pay the “skin tax” without any protest. That’s their prerogative of course, but it’s not the path I travel on.