When in Rome II: Getting Conned
I know, I know. I’m an expert European traveler, having been in Europe over a dozen times since 2013, even having lived there. We’re all vulnerable at some point. Having been there over a dozen times we think we’re invincible. Let me tell you how I was conned.
First let me say how humbled I feel. To the point, I just wanted to forget it even happened. However, I just kept coming back to the point where I feel stupid, and it’s a gutwrenching feeling, to where I want to throw up. Then I thought. I’m not the first person this has happened to, and I will not be the last. So I thought I would share my experience with you.
I landed in Rome a day before my Dad and Grandma (we’re doing a Three Generations Trip). Everything was perfect. I’m a master of public transportation so I took the train and then the metro to the hotel, got checked in, went to the grocery store, walked around the neighborhood a little bit, and went to bed early.
Took the metro and the train back to the airport so I could be there to pick up my family and bring them to the hotel. And that’s when it happened. I could sense something was off as the man took us past the taxi station and led us to a bigger vehicle parking lot. Where, there were several other people being brought this way too. At one point I grabbed the suitcase and said “Where are we going”. That should have been where I grabbed the suitcase and walked back over to the taxis. He had an airport ID, which my guess now was forged. We walked to the bigger “taxi” vehicle and got in.
I always follow along on my GPS to make sure we weren’t going anywhere out of the way. I already knew what the cost of the taxi to the hotel would be, thinking it would be a bit more because we were in a larger vehicle. If you have me on Twitter, you were probably following along my Taxi Story. Which I will also post here for those who didn’t. (Read from the bottom upwards.)
At one point he did seem to take the scenic route. Which wasn’t too of course. We were driving in severe morning traffic, and he only went maybe two blocks away from it to get us to the hotel. Okay, so now I knew we would be paying a little extra. That’s okay, I wasn’t mad about it. It was here I realized I made my second mistake. I didn’t ask how much the ride would be. Amateur move. Holy amateur move. I have NEVER not asked, EVER. So I was now expecting about 100 euros give or take.
It was pretty much a death experience I was having. (I’ve come to realize, that’s just how people drive here.) When we got to the hotel he helped us out of the vehicle. I was paying more attention to my 92-year old Grandma. And that’s how he got me. He said it was 150 Euros. A typical taxi ride from the airport to the hotel is about 70 Euros.
That’s when I made my third mistake. I didn’t count it out when I handed it to him. What I didn’t expect, was him to pull the fast con. Quickly moving the 100 Euros to his pocket and giving me two 10s. He was good. I thought about it for a second. That’s when I should have called him a Ladro or Thief loudly– we were blocking traffic at this point. I should have yelled Polizia. Fourth mistake right there. And my fifth mistake was giving him 100 MORE Euros. It took me 10 seconds to realize I got conned.
This happens. Often. Way more than we would ever think. So now we just have to learn from it. Here are a few ways you can make sure you aren’t ever going to be conned.
1. If you need a taxi, NEVER be lead away from the taxis. Even if he has an “airport ID”
2. Ask the price before getting in the vehicle. Do your research before you go. Or even ask a couple of taxis the prices to get a sense of what you want to pay, or even the average of what it is to pay to go where you are going.
3. Do not be afraid to get the license number and the cab number. This is also a safety measure.
4. Count out your money as you give it to him. That way you can see if you’re giving the wrong bills, and you know and the driver knows you are giving him the right amount of money. (Take a recording if you would like to as well. There’s no shame in getting the transaction on film. You can say it’s for receipt purposes if you need to.)
5. If you’re in a public place, never be ashamed to make a scene if you feel cheated, unsafe, or like you are in trouble.
Don’t be afraid to take a taxi if you need it. Just make sure you’re taking the correct steps. But by following these measures, you can make sure you will not conned out of your money.
Remember, even if you have done this a million times, it can still happen to you.
As for me, since public transportation is out of the question due to my Grandma not being able to walk as quickly as other commuters. We’re sticking with Uber for this trip—no money is changing hands.