Saturday, December 31, 2005

Chris's Law of Auto-Rickshaw drivers

On the way to the train station this afternoon, I figured out what had happened this morning.

I was charged a tiny 10 rupees for the ride from the train station to the hotel.

However, when I tried to go back to the train station this afternoon, no auto driver would give me the time of day for less than 15rs. So, what happened?

The answer is that the auto-rickshaw driver received a 20 rupee kickback, or backsheesh as its known here, for taking me to the hotel. Heell, he probably would have driven me there for free.

I was pretty pissed when I found this out, as I pride myself in not being taken for a ride... pretty soon, I figured out a way to get my revenge on rickshaw drivers everywhere:

Fact: Auto drivers are happy to take you to a hotel, as they will receive a kickback.
Fact: Auto drivers will take you to the hotel for less than a normal fare as a result.
Fact: Auto drivers have no way of knowing if you are alreay a guest at the hotel.

So.. I figured out of that I can keep travelling to my guesthouse from either the train/bus station for a amazingly cheap price, as long as I look like I just got off the bus (i.e. clueless)

I tried this on the way back after buying my train ticket... worked like a charm.

and, continuing this line of thinking, I now present:

Chris's Laws of Rickshaw Travel

1. Do not use the rickshaws that are waiting in line outside a station/famous place. They are waiting in line, and so the person in the front will not give up his place for anything less than a full priced fare. He has probably been waiting there for hours, and is not going to be happy to take you somewhere for 10rs.

2. The more recently an auto driver has had a customer, the more willing he is to haggle with you. Flag them down while they are driving for best results.

3. Auto drivers will not haggle in front of their friends. This is due to a combination of pride, and price fixing cartel style rules enforced by peer pressure.

4. The older the driver, the slower he will drive.

5. Young guys spend all their money on their auto, and will quite possibly have a very nice sound system. Ask them if they can play some music.

6. If the journey you are taking involves any kind of entrance or toll road fee, the rickshaw driver will never ever mention this when you are haggling for the price before you depart.

7. If he takes you to a hotel or shop, expect to pay more as it will for sure include a kickback to the auto driver.

8. If you are drunk or carrying heavy bags, you lose bargaining power. Have a sober friend do it for you, or leave your bags inside the hotel while you go out and hail the auto.

9. Never agree to go anywhere for a quick stop. If he doesn't want to take you exactly where you want to go, and directly, you don't pay.

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