How it works:
- Overview: this is the #1 scam to be wary of in Georgia as tons of unknowing tourists get ripped off year after year and both official and unofficial drivers do get in on the act. This is because the taxi industry is unregulated and any taxi meters are fitted voluntarily by the taxi company.
- Version 1: tell you that it only cost $x but when you reach your destination, tell you that the fare is actually $10x.
- Version 2:tell you that it cost x GEL, but when you reach your destination, tell you that the fare is actually x USD. Note that 1 USD is currently worth 2.9 GEL (in Dec 2019).
- Version 3: claims to use the meter when there is no meter in the cab.
- Version 4: having a meter, but rigging it so that it jumps too fast or by too much, or be programmed to have inflated tariffs.
- Version 5: pretending not to know the route well and bringing you on a long route to jack up the fare.
Places to beware:
What to do:
- Airport:the situation is worst at the airport. Here, there are several options you can take. You can take the white airport taxi with a fixed price of 25-35 GEL (make sure to confirm the price first); pre-arrange airport transfer; use a taxi booking app such as Taxify/Yandex; or take bus #37 (blue in color) which leaves the airport every 30 minutes and only costs GEL 0.50. Note that the bus runs 24 hours from Monday to Friday.
- Photo: take a photo of the car plate and driver’s license.
- Overcharging: ensure meter is turned on or research a fair price to negotiate with – check online fare estimators, your hotel/hostel staff or taxi booking apps (e.g. Taxify/Yandex).
- Longhauling: be very clear when communicating your destination. Check your phone’s GPS to see if you are headed in the correct direction, though detours may be taken to avoid jams.
- Rigged meter red flags: tampered/missing meter seal, only fare is displayed, driver clicking a hidden switch, driving slowly at a high speed area to prevent meter from jumping wildly.