Doha Taxi Driver Scams: How to Spot the Tricks
I'm not really a car person, so I rely heavily on public transport to get around in Doha. When it comes to taxis, oh boy, don't I have my fair share of stories, of the ways they tried to trick me out of a couple of riyals (or 20QAR form my friend) over the years.
So I thought it would be good to share my observations and precautions needed to protect yourself from being 'scammed' (as my friend and I have labelled it) from these unscrupulous drivers.
1. Meter Not Working
This used to be common in the initial months when I arrived in Doha, when the driver would say the meter isn't working but would still take you if you accept his price. Don't fall for it. The meter does work, but they may have switched it off or try pressing other buttons that having nothing to do with turning the meter on.
The Remedy: Go grab another taxi.
2. Covering the Price
Usually this involves placing the dialog box on the meter over the price to cover it. This is easy to notice. However, the driver is testing how much the passenger is paying attention. When you arrive at the destination and ask for the journey price, the driver will quote a price greater than what he knows is the actual cost of the journey.
The Remedy: Ask the driver to remove the dialog box so that you can see the price. Be prepared for the driver to play dumb, look for signs of staling or ignoring your request but be insistent! I remember one driver pretending not to speak or understand English (speaking in his native tongue to me when I said I wanted to see the price), so I leaned forward and pointed to the dialog box on the meter and said 'price' and LO! AND BEHOLD! he can speak English.
3. Charging the Night Rate for Morning Travel
This used to be common as well, when I would grab a taxi to head to work in the morning.
Morning Rates are labelled '1' and night rates as '0' (if my memory serves me right, or was it the other way around?). The rates change after 09:00.
For the morning journey, the driver will select '0' and charge you a higher rate.
The remedy: Inform the driver to select the correct rate. Again, be prepared for the driver to play dumb, ignore your request or (it can happen) argue with you.
4. 'Forgetting' to Reset the Price
This happens when you get in a taxi that has just dropped off a passenger/s but decides to keep the journey price on and add it to your journey cost.
The Remedy: Request the driver to reset the price. But be prepared for the driver to say something like "Don't worry, you won't pay this amount", but its a trick. When he drops you off, he can suddenly demand the full price and produce a receipt to show to the nearest policeman that you're not willing to pay the full amount. Because he will have evidence against your word, you won't be left with a choice other than to pay the full amount.
5. Withholding the Correct Change
When the journey cost is like 18, 19 QAR (as an example) and you pay 20QAR, the driver may not give you the change. Or if the journey cost 20.25QAR, the driver may ROUND UP instead of ROUND DOWN to get you to pay 1QAR extra.
The Remedy: 'Hey, what about my 2QAR change?' Usually, they will comply, but in some cases they may (genuinely) not have change. Therefore, it is always best to keep ALOT of 1QAR just in case (as well as coins).
So, thats it. I hope this has conveyed some beneficial information and will help you to be more careful when boarding the next taxi.