When living in Latin America, you'll obviously take a taxi every once in a while.
Though I strongly prefer Uber because there's a lot less bullshit.
Regardless, you'll notice over time that some areas have taxis with a meter and others where you got to negotiate.
The experience is a little bit different with both.
So let me explain.
The Taxis with a Meter
As I wrote here, I remember taking a taxi in Mexico City a few months ago to basically go church hunting in Xochimilco.
The taxi driver wasn't giving me any bullshit.
What the meter says is what I pay.
He wasn't attempting to jack the price up in anyway.
I simply told him "OK, we're going to this spot next."
And to that spot we went.
All around, it ended up costing like around 6 or 7 bucks per hour (120 to 140 pesos per hour).
Gave the dude a little over 40 bucks for what was about 7 or 9 hours of riding me around?
And it was a good time.
No being treated differently for simply being of a different skin color or nationality.
None of that.
I used his service. I paid. He was happy. I was happy.
In contrast, I remember taking two other taxis recently.
One of them was in Xochimilco where I was leaving the canals and heading home.
The dude didn't even finish his ride and dropped me off at some point a little bit away from where I was living at the time in Tlahuac area of Mexico City.
And the price was noticeably higher at around maybe 7 bucks or so more or less for what was a ride not too long.
While you could argue that maybe the price went up for other reasons like traffic, it definitely seemed to go up faster than normal and he didn't even drop me off at where I said I wanted to be dropped off at.
Lazy ass motherfucker.
Similarly, I took a taxi not too long ago in Iztapalapa of Mexico City.
The dude also didn't drop me off at the the place I wanted to go to and also ripped me off by an extra dollar or two while doing a song and dance to look out the window in hopes he could jack the price up some more.
With him, it was clear he had some mechanism to jack up the price a bit faster than normal despite using a meter (though at first he didn't want to use it).
You could read more about that story here.
That's all with using the meter anyhow.
What about bargaining?
Bargaining in CDMX & Colombia
While most drivers in Mexico City use Uber or a meter, I have rarely used some negotiation skills instead.
For example, as I wrote here, I had an Uber driver take me around for about 5 spots.
Uber only lets you have the driver stop at 5 spots before the ride is over.
So, when we reached all our destinations, I asked him "how much to have you keep driving me around?"
We agreed on about 7 bucks an hour more or less and kept on moving.
There was no checking the meter.
None of that.
The price per hour is agreed upon and that is that.
But that isn't typical of drivers in Mexico City.
Usually we use a meter and that is it.
When I lived in other Latin American cities though like Barranquilla of Colombia, it was always basic bargaining.
There was no meter.
In those cases, your results would vary.
Many times a driver would see your gringo ass and want to charge more and you'd have to tell him to kick rocks until a new driver showed up that would agree to a normal price.
In other circumstances, maybe you found a professional taxi company running a corner and they'd give you a price based on the location you are going to with prices pre established for cetain zones of the city.
And the taxi driver would still try to argue with you during the ride.
It is what it is.
Final Verdict: Bargaining vs. Meter in Latin American Taxis
There's a few final thoughts to be had.
First, as you have seen, just using a meter doesn't mean the driver will be honest.
They could obviously take longer routes to get to where you want to go or have some other way to jack the price up on the meter.
That also means that, if you are in a hurry, your ass is waiting a longer time to get to where you want to go because you have a 50 IQ retard behind the wheel that will hustle for that extra 20 pesos.
Second, with just basic bargaining and no meter, obviously the driver has no incentive to drive an extra long route as the price is pre agreed upon.
Third, sometimes culture does matter. Specifically, I find places that are either Caribbean in culture or heavy indigenous (with no local that looks like you) to be the worst in terms of scammers for bargaining.
A lot more folks in those areas who won't accept an honest price because they see your gringo ass and go "OH SI SI DOLLAR DOLLAR! YA PUEDO TENER DINERO PARA MI MISTRESS! SI SI SI SI SOY UN MARICA SI SI!"
It is what it is.
Fourth, when they do use a meter though, it is nice that you can just hop into their taxi without having to negotiate.
You might have to ask them though if they know where the destination is if it is obscure.
But you can have greater trust that no fuckery will happen with the prices.
Fifth, the price difference isn't that much between the two.
In worst case scenario, perhaps it is three times the price of what you would normally pay if you were negotiating versus using a meter.
However, unless you are a broke ass backpacker, that isn't much as it means 15 bucks versus 5.
It's not so much the price then that bothers me but the retard trying to scam me and the principal of not giving money to low down syndrome retards who want to scam me for being different.
Let them die of starvation.
Sixth, even in cities where the meter is common, you'll find areas of said cities where bargaining is the way because most of the taxis are "pirate taxis."
In Mexico City, that could mean going to San Francisco Apolocalco or Cuautepec in the higher up zone of that area.
A lot more pirate taxis then.
Seventh, if you are taking a taxi though that is using the meter and it's going to be one of those 7 to 9 hour taxi tours that I do, I recommend you start it out small.
Have him take you to a spot or two you want to see nearby your apartment or starting point.
See if he is fucking with the price.
If he is, get out and find someone new.
If not, obviously he is cool and keep using him for whatever portion of the trip he is cool with.
In my experience, they are usually cool with most of the trip (even those that long).
If not, have him finish his portion of the trip dropping you off though on a road that has plenty of traffic where you can easily find another driver and test him real quick to make sure he also isn't going to jack the prices up by 1000%.
Eighth, obviously using a professional taxi company has less risk of being screwed than a rando off the street.
Ninth, if in an area where the meter is common, you should stick to the meter. Any use of bargaining in such an area is most likely going to lead to a higher price for you.
Finally, I prefer the meter usually.
If I was in a hurry, I'd prefer Uber though because it has a fixed price and also I know the dude isn't going to take an extra long route to take me to my destination.
Without Uber, I'd probably prefer the bargaining taxi dude after finding one that isn't trying to scam me.
If I'm not in a hurry though, I much prefer the meter simply because it's the least bullshit option and I know I'm not being treated too differently for my skin color or nationality.
Which is my main issue way above the whole the cost difference because, as I said, it's usually not THAT much different between the meter and bargaining.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
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Thanks for reading.