Monday, January 3, 2011

How to negotiate with Auto drivers a.k.a. rickshaws a.k.a. tuc tucs?

First of all it's everytime useful to be prepared. So, check with some friend for the usual fares or check on google maps for the correct distance to your location to estimate the meter price (currently 8 INR per km, min 19INR). In addition if you have plenty of time in advance it's quiet useful to learn the local language like Kanada for Bengalore, if you able to speak than you mostly get the correct price (even at night time you will be able to make the best deals).
Nevertheless, don't worry if you have no idea of the destination or language, you still able to make a good deal.
So let's begin, go to the street and wait for a rickshaw, if you now the direction wait on the appropriate site.
Clearly avoid to go to non-police driven rickshaw stands,the rickshaw drivers  there do not act like independent competitors like the drivers you will find on the street. They will act as an overpriced collectiv with nearly no negotiation. Instead you should prefer to stop a rick or go to some police-driven prepaid rickshaw stands like the one at Bricade / MG Road.
Check the frequency of rickshaws to decide whether you can effort to wait for another one. It's always better to plan a bit more time because it's always possible that especially at nighttime it takes time to find a rickshaw or that a rickshaw driver don't understand the correct destination or a driver takes you for a roundtrip.
When the rickshaw driver arrives the best tactic is to say only the location and when the driver confirms directly enter. Usually the driver will automatically start the meter if it's daytime and begin to drive. Otherwise you have to ask for meter, at daytime you should not agree on anything else.
In the case a driver ask you for a certain amount you have to bargain. To know the target of your negotiation it's usefull to know the distance/normal price, otherwise you only possibility is to achieve like 40% of the requested price. So if a driver ask you for 50INR the normal price is hardly around 20INR. But be aware of drivers asking for immense amounts like 400INR this prices are not even applicable for the longest ride you can take in BLR, so go for 100INR. The drivers are using lots of legends around the law and police to get extra charge from you.
Only 3 guys per rick -- There is the legend that rickshaws are only allowed to take 3 people otherwise the police will charge them a fee, this never happens for my time here in India and none of my friends ever experienced this, so do not take it as any argument.
Double meter at nighttime -- The nighttime fare starts at 10pm and is about 50% more, so one and a half meter. Do not believe any other stories they wanna to tell you like double meter or nobody will be there on driving back.
So the golden rule is to stay near your targeted price, stay friendly and keep on arguing. Should the driver not come near to your desired, you should try to find another rickshaw (even the attempt will shrink the price). And don't worry, the next driver will even be easier to negotiate, because he already realized that you do not take any random price.
Although, a rickshaw is going by meter, one has to be aware of faked and very fast meters. So it's quiet useful to know the distance or at least own a feeling about how much is one km that you can check if everything ticks the right way. In addition please watch out for roundtrips, tuc-tucs tend to take longer ways as usual to get more money out of you. So even if you not knowing the way and get some deja vues, just tell the driver to go straight to your destination. (it's worse to risk a bad feeling if he didn't cheat on you).
Any price you aggreed with your driver is fix and no circumstance can change it. Even if the driver did not clearly understand the location and therefore take a roundtrip, you have to clearly refuse to pay more. Same for adds to the meter price such as entered nighttime or 4 people and so on.
In general, you should always stay patient and calm to rickshaw drivers, avoid harsh and loud language and do not make yourself any stress it is not worth it.