Pixi (macropixi) wrote in bad_service,

Jumping on the cabbie band wagon

Three or four years ago my then boyfriend now husband and I went down to Saint Thomas for our good friend's wedding. The bride and her family were from Saint Thomas, which is why the wedding was being held down there. The groom and his family are all from Massachusetts (and most of his friends).

My husband (groomsman) and I ended up sharing a hotel room with another of our good friends (bestman) and taking a mini vacation at the same time. How often are we going to get to Saint Thomas after all.

Now we had the choice of taxi cabs or renting a car. People drive on the left side of the road out there (in US Standard cars, drivers on the left of the car), Shadow (husband) did not feel comfortable driving on the left hand side of the road so we opted to use the local taxis.

This is how the taxi system works in the US Virgin Islands: Taxi rates are based on destination rather than milage. In other words they charge a set price to get you to places on the island. From hotel to downtown five dollars. Per person. This means one person going downtown from the hotel, five dollars, two, ten dollars etc.

On our first or second night on the island the group of us (three total) went downtown to get a bite to eat (fifteen dollars). We took a cab back to the hotel later that night. 15 dollars was the total again. I gave the cabbie a twenty (all we had on us were twenties or travelers checks). Our friend gave us five dollars to pay us back for paying for him. Then the cab driver starts to try to leave. Without giving us our change. We stop him, tell him he owes us five dollars change. He tries to tell us that we just got it (the five that our friend gave us). We carefully walk through the payment process with him.

You took three people at five dollars a head from downtown back to the hotel. That costs 15 dollars. We gave you a twenty. You owe us five. Even at 20% your tip would only come to three dollars, not five. The five that our friend handed us was paying us for paying his fare.

We spoke with the hotel and others about tipping practices for taxi's after that. Basically everyone said that since they charge per person a set rate based on destination, tipping is completely up to you.

And some drivers got very high tips from us. (the taxi driver who got us to the other side of the island in time for the wedding rehersal in five minutes avoiding traffic got a MAJOR tip)

But don't try to scam money out of us. We weren't born yesterday.

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