We Got Scammed By Our NYC Taxi Driver (But Only A Little)

by joeheg

When you say that you’ve been scammed, it’s usually the case when you pay way more than you should for a service. For example, the people selling trips to see the Statue of Liberty at the Staten Island Ferry entrance. They are selling tickets to an experience that people are steps away from experiencing for free.

Taxicab scams at airports are nothing new in New York. There are plenty of “drivers” who look for unknowing visitors and then charge exorbitant fares to take them to their hotels in Manhattan. We avoid these by using the official taxi stands at the airport.

When we landed at JFK at 2:15 AM, all we wanted to do was get to our hotel and go to sleep. We walked from JFK T5 to the taxi stand and waited for a cab. The attendant pointed us to a car as it arrived. The driver took our luggage and put it in the trunk and said that it was a flat rate of $65 to Manhattan and I nodded in agreement.

It wasn’t until we started on the ride that I remembered Sharon writing about how NYC was having hearings on raising the rate from JFK from $52 to $65.  At the time of our trip, that increase had not yet been approved. We spent the duration of our trip wondering if our bags were going to fall out of the back of the cab (from damage that left a gap between the hatchback and the rest of the vehicle) and hoping we didn’t crash as we sped down the highways of Queens and Brooklyn.

I knew something was amiss when none of the taxi fare apparatus was functioning during the ride. When we got to our hotel, instead of using the card reader in the back of the cab, the driver asked me to hand him my credit card. That’s when he ran the card through a Square reader on his phone for the $65 fare. He handed me the phone to tap my “tip” for the ride and helped us get our bags from the trunk.

Did the driver take advantage of “tourists” by overcharging the fare that an NYC Taxi should be charging for a ride between JFK and Manhattan? Undoubtedly he did.

Do I feel that I overpaid for a ride between JFK and Manhattan at 2 AM? No, I don’t.

That doesn’t mean that our driver, in an NYC Yellow Cab, didn’t break the rules by not charging a metered fare and instead of having us pay him using his phone. In all, I ended up paying less than $10 more than I was expecting, which was not worth arguing about after a long flight delay.

Removed a week from the event, I’m not sure how to feel about the encounter. Should I be angry that the driver took advantage of travelers who were obviously having a bad day? Or should I chalk it up to paying a little extra to prevent any friction and just be happy that it was relatively easy to get a reasonable price for a ride to our hotel in the middle of the night?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


JP2 April 8, 2022 - 7:03 pm

Never let people get away with taking advantage of you.

Mike April 8, 2022 - 8:29 pm

If yellow cab keeps ripping off customers, I think I am glad that Uber and Lyft are ahead of the game. I am happy if yellow cab goes on bankruptcy, we have much better fare transparency with Uber and Lyft. I won’t patronize yellow cab

Gene April 8, 2022 - 8:49 pm

What JP2 and Mike said. Always use uber or lyft, unless you know the flat rate taxi fare is lower, but then make sure you are charged correctly for that. It s all ridiculous.

Roger April 9, 2022 - 7:01 am

Only a fool “breaks the rules” and pays more and he is happy

SubwayNut April 9, 2022 - 7:41 am

Please call NYC’s 311 center you can reach it at 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675) outside of NYC and report this driver, this behavior is unacceptable. I think there is also a way to file a NYC 311 complaint on-line.

Yellow cab drivers must follow specific regulations and not scam customers.

WAE April 9, 2022 - 12:37 pm

I am sorry you got ripped off but “glad” it was only 25%. It is illegal and a lousy start to visiting our fair city. I wish taxis were better policed, but with so many thousands of fares all day, I am not sure how best to do that.

In case it is helpful to you and others, you might consider the following before getting into a NYC taxi:

1. Ask the driver if the meter is working
If it is not working, do not get in. All licensed taxis must have a working meter.

2. Confirm the fixed price or estimate
Do your research ahead of time. If the price is different, walk away.

3. Take a picture of the license plate on your taxi
Tell the driver you have left things in taxis too often. This lets them know the ride is documented.

4. Pay with a credit/debit card
All licensed taxis must accept cards. Keep your paper receipt. You can dispute a charge with the credit company if necessary.

Once inside, take a picture of the driver’s taxi license. It must be posted. This lets them know they are accountable.

Note that trips can include substantial tolls and surcharges:


As of this date, face coverings are still required by both drivers and passengers during a ride. (This is true of all public transportation, including buses, subways, etc.) You do not have to show proof of vaccination, nor does your driver.

One final note: If you are traveling light, you can get the bus/subway to/from JFK for $2.75. Check out my comment:


and remember that you can now use a “smart” card [with a chip] to tap and pay for subway and bus rides or use Google Pay, Apple Wallet, etc. on your phone.

Mak April 10, 2022 - 9:53 am

This proves to me that Uber is much more successful in regulating its own drivers than the elaborate New York City Taxi and Limo Commission bureaucracy and its arcane licensing system, but you should absolutely do your part to file a complaint with the NYC TLC (212) 639-9675. A guy who will rip off an English speaker of $10 is capable of doing far worse to those who do. This driver enjoys a government granted monopoly, and clearly he isn’t entitled to the trust that status assumes.


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