Extortion in the Provinces

September 1, 2009

dollar signOh, but WAIT!  The story’s not yet over from our weekend in Batangas.  As if failing at SCUBA wasn’t enough for my weekend, we got another little surprise when we got in the car to go home.  (Background information: We had rented a car and driver through a Craig’s List posting and agreed to an amount up front.  The trip there took 4 hours, due to a 30 minute breakfast stop and an hour lost looking for the correct Balete.)

So we jump in to the car and start off on our ride home.  We are no more than 5 minutes into our trip when our driver tells us that “THE BOSS” said that there’s going to be an extra charge for the ride here because we asked to stop for breakfast in Tagaytay, creating a side trip.  He went on to state that we asked him to take a different route than the one “THE BOSS” thought we’d take.  And so for that, we owe more money, OF COURSE!  Can anyone say extortion??

Here are some of the things that defy reason in this scenario:

  1. The route we suggested was 20 km shorter than the other route.
  2. The route we suggested saved the driver toll fees.
  3. The reason it took so long was because we spent an hour LOST, which could have been prevented if the driver had looked at the map before beginning to drive.
  4. We had sent the map in advance showing the route we wanted to take and there was no feedback at that point suggesting otherwise.

Sadly, this is a common scenario here, as it is perceived that you have extra money you can part with.  It happens all the time in taxis as well, where drivers will try to negotiate a rate up front instead of using the meter.  Let’s just say that Nick gets boiling mad when this happens.  After a few harsh words and a reminder that repeat business comes from good service, we received an email from “THE BOSS” saying that there must have been some misunderstanding and he looked forward to serving us again in the future.  Fat chance of that…. and so we decided right then and there that we WILL be hiring a driver for our car.  Amazing how one little event can bring such clarity!  Interviews start in the next two weeks (our car gets here by the 15th).  More updates to come on that!

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  1. Caroline says:

    Are you not allowed to drive in the Phillipines? Or are is it just not worth it to drive, thus necessitating the driver?

  2. minnesotagal says:

    You can drive, but it’s a NIGHTMARE. There are no rules, corrupt policemen and nowhere to park. Having a driver sets you back $200 a month but minimizes all of those problems and dramatically adds to the quality of your life. They typically work 5 – twelve hour days.

  3. chad says:

    I commented on your blog once….

    It’s generally perceived that foreigners are rich and will pay any amount the trader/seller offers. For caucasian couples like you, you attract double the amount. It’s like being a magnet for extortion- especially in the provinces. It’s a bad reality that could dampen a good retreat. Good thing that you and Nick stand up to those people. Now for the cab drivers in Metro Manila, I would say it’s a hopeless case. They extort local and aliens alike. They say their price, it’s up to you if you take it or leave it.

    Hope to read more of your blog. Have a good day!

  4. minnesotagal says:

    I think you pretty much summed it up there… all you can do is put your foot down. I do feel like we have a big X on our chest sometimes, although it helps if I’m hanging out with other Filipinos. Thanks for reading…

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