The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Classic scam in Manila, the calesa carriage rip off

Written By: herbrunbridge - May• 10•10

Manila scamwagon

A scam has been going on for years near the waterfront in Manila with regard to taking a tour in one of the quaint two-wheeled horse carriages called calesas. We wanted to see first hand how it worked, and it was a classic! Before we tell you how the scam works, here are a few rules if you want to tak a carriage yourself: 

1)      All fares are negotiable. 250 pesos per hour is about right.
2)      Make sure you’re carrying exact change for your fare. Your driver will claim he has none.
3)      Show your driver your watch when you start moving. That’s when the “clock” starts.
4)      Under no circumstances ever pay your driver more than you agreed to. You will never get change, and your money will never be returned. 

Here’s how it works. You will initially be quoted something like 300 pesos per hour. Try to negotiate it down, 200-250 pesos is fair. At the end of your ride, the driver will claim you owe in excess of 400 pesos, because you’ve been riding for 2 ½ hours, even though you’d only been riding an hour. Be firm, tell the driver you don’t need any of his bullshit. Pay the amount you agreed on, and walk away. 

Carriage drivers have been getting away with this scam for decades, because westerners are soft and are easy marks. Don’t you be taken. Stand your ground, pay the amount you agreed upon, and walk away.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that your driver’s kids are along for the ride. Dad’s teaching them the scam, and illustrating to them how to cheat foreigners. This way, the scam continues into the next generation.

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  1. tobias says:

    The moral decadence of some of these people is real.They seem to take pride in decieving and fooling a foreigner.While the men do scams, murders, and setups as well as thieving the women can be expert liers and money milkers without a flynch.

  2. That’s a classic! Looks like the locals know about the scam as well…

  3. tim says:

    thanks for this.i have been tempted to ride many times and locals have told me its a waste of money.was unsure why.but now i know.i was laughing as i read this.finally i have found a great site to help me not get scammed.about to go on my 6th trip to philippines

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