How it works:
- Version 1: all drivers are required to use a meter, but many will tell you that the meter is broken or do not have one. An inflated flat fare is then charged.
- Version 2: the meter jumps too fast or too much.
- Version 3: a driver can choose to use a meter, but take a detour or longer route to inflate the fare.
- Version 4: other tricks include shortchanging or note switching (switching a high value note you give to a lower value note and then asking you to top up the difference).
- Version 5: claiming that there are no more buses due to a strike, or that your hotel is closed and suggest bringing you somewhere else.
Places to beware:
- Alajuela: Juan Santamaria International Airport
- Guanacaste: Liberia
- Puntarenas: Manuel Antonio
- San Jose: Coca-Cola Bus Station, Tica Bus Terminal
What to do:
- Avoid: taxis at tourist spots (e.g. El Pueblo).
- Photo: take a photo of the taxi number and driver’s license.
- Overcharging: ensure meter is turned on (tell them “La Maria”) or research a fair price to negotiate with – check online fare estimators, your hotel/hostel staff or taxi booking apps (e.g. Easy Taxi, Uber).
- 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.
- Other tricks: check how your notes are handled, and check your change.
- Alternative: GetYourGuide (leading day tour platform) has 20+ transport options.