Since I last lived in India the arrival of digital meters into Tuk-Tuk’s has created a greater confidence that I am getting charged the right fare. I – and I may be wrong in the IT capital of India – believe that it’s a darn sight harder for deviant Tuk-Tuk (sorry, that’s my term for autorikshaws & I ain’t for changing) drivers to ‘fix’ them. I think this has led to much more fun when negotiating the fares for journeys in and around the area as we now both know that the meter is ‘straight’.
The other big change is that with Google Maps, I can track where we’re going ‘live’ and be confident that we’re going the right, most direct route. To be fair to the drivers, I haven’t seen any try the old ‘road is closed sir’ routine so I trace my journey less than when I first arrived.
In our first few weeks, from the OneMG mall to home, we were first charged ₹100, then ₹60 before eventually I put my foot down one afternoon and said “METER!” – the ₹30 charge was mind blowing. We had been idiots… and no doubt Tuk-Tuk drivers around Bangalore had been giggling at our foreign ignorance.
Since that revelation though, I’ve been adamant that I’m paying the meter rate. Sure, on occasions I’ve negotiated (and lost) but the circumstances have been in the driver’s favour (late at night, raining, far away). When doing local I insist on the regulated fare and walk away if the driver is not playing ball but when I find a driver who doesn’t try to extract the proverbial, I am guaranteed to pay extra. I appreciate that here is a man who’s doing an honest day’s work and prepared to just get on with it. That deserves extra reward in my mind, when so many of his colleagues aren’t.
Last weekend I jumped in the Tuk-Tuk of a man called Hussein, an Insurance Company worker who drives in the evenings and at the weekends for additional cash – he didn’t say why and I wasn’t for asking (talking about money is usually a bit of a taboo amongst the British). Yet it struck me that here was a man who could have tried to haggle more out of me but he was happy to just go with the regulation fare. Bravo. Added to his extremely entertaining chat on the journey he was a shoe in for a big tip, which he got.
And it just goes to show, that the honest man can earn more and I think that the more often that people jilt the negotiation and insist on the meter – but reward the honesty – that better fares for punters and better rates for drivers can become the norm.