Taxi scam

Jamaica-taxi-scamTaxi’s ripping off tourists are an omnipresent phenomenon across the world. Every tourist knows to be on guard when he gets into a taxi cab somewhere in a part of the world where he is unfamiliar with the local prices, habits and environment (also read the Budapest taxi scam).

In Jamaica, the hotels and resorts are banking on the unfamiliar environment and the tourist’s perceived risk of being robbed or scammed by a taxi driver. They use scare tactics to manipulate their guests into being afraid to use a taxi that the hotel doesn’t earn a commission on. The hotels and resorts all have their own taxi service counter at the reception and/or near the exit of their property. They make tourists believe that it is not safe to order a taxi outside of the resort, and they scare them off with warnings of robberies and rip-offs.

Of course, every single tourist will believe these tales and book a taxi at the hotel counter, just to be on the safe side. That’s when they end up paying double for what a Jamaican taxi would cost “on the street”, while these are just as safe as the taxi that is booked through the hotel service counter. The excess payment is in no way used to improve the comfort or safety of the taxi, but is pure profit for the hotel.

When taking a taxi on the streets of Jamaica, make sure the driver is certified by JUTA (Jamaica Union of Travellers Association). They are easily recognizable by a red license plate on their car and a JUTA sticker on their windshield. Also don’t forget to haggle on the prices with the taxi driver beforehand. And if the ride has been safe and comfortable, a tip is certainly in place (for example giving the original asking price after all).

This scam is very similar to the one run in Gambia (read our Gambia taxi scam as well), where it is run by the travel agents rather than the hotels themselves.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Montego Bay and Jamaica Tourist Scams Forum.

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