MONTREAL TAXI RIPOFF
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Warning: Loyal reader ripped off by taxi driver at Montreal Airport.
by Wendy Perrin
Frequent globehopper Joe_Kayaker reports that he was “taken for a ride” when he landed at Montreal International recently:
“It was late in the evening, the shuttle bus to the Airport Novotel had stopped running at 10:00 p.m., and none of the taxis would take me on such a short trip. Grrr. I finally found a taxi driver who would take me. As we were driving to the hotel, he said he didn’t understand why the Novotel was called an “airport hotel,” since it’s not really that close to the airport. We drove for quite a while, and the ride cost $30. When checking into the hotel, I asked how much a cab ride from the airport is supposed to cost and was told, ‘No more than $15.’ I overpaid by only 15 bucks (well, Loonies), but how does one avoid being taken in by unscrupulous taxi drivers? Thanks, Joe”
Joe, you paid $15 in what I call “tourist tax.” I’ve been taken on circuitous routes and overcharged by cab drivers in many a city — Cairo, Beijing, Moscow, New York — but I have to say I’m surprised to hear of this occurring in orderly and lawful Montreal. Here’s my test-driven advice for avoiding unscrupulous airport cabbies:
1) Ask the hotel in advance how long a taxi ride it is from the airport and what the cost should be. The Hotel Novotel Montreal Aeroport‘s web site says it’s “just 10 minutes” from the airport and provides a map of the route (see left).
2) Before getting into a cab, ask the driver how much the ride will cost. If he quotes a price higher than what the hotel told you, offer your price. Negotiate and reach an agreement before stepping into the cab.
3) When you arrive at your destination, if the driver demands a higher price than was agreed to, ask for a receipt with the driver’s name on it, write down his ID number (make known to him that you’re recording it), and take out your camera to snap a picture of him and the car. Often, as soon as you pull out the camera, the driver will drop the price.
One more thought: If the hotel has a doorman or bellman, see if he can hold the cab while you notify the front desk that you’re in the process of being ripped off. I’ve never done this myself, but I bring it up because a few weeks ago a hotel in Madrid happened to suggest just this. When I called the Tryp Atocha a few days before my arrival in Spain to confirm my online reservation and find out what the length and cost of a cab ride from the airport should be, the front-desk clerk volunteered that if the driver tried to overcharge I should tell the front desk and they would deal with him for me. I got the impression that they had done so for other guests in the past.
Hope this helps, Joe. Always good to hear from you.