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scubacruiserx2

Beware of taxis in Santiago and Bueno Aires airports

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2 stories of taxi scams at the Santiago and Buenos Aires airports . They both happened last December when we cruised on the HAL Zaandam .

 

 

We had a good flight to Buenos Aires and were ready to be admitted into Argentina . Upon entering we were photographed and had to use a thumbprint . We also had to have our bags X-rayed . We had hoped to exchange some dollars for pesos or use the ATM for pesos for dinner and a taxi. Well,things did not go as planned - Taxi ride, check-in and going out to dinner.  Our pre-booked taxi was nowhere to be found and we waited an hour before getting another taxi. In the meantime we tried to use the ATM - it was Sunday and the ATMs do not really work on Sunday.  We did find the National Bank and exchanged USD for AR Pesos.  We had the Airport Information try to reach our taxi company Taxi Premium, no answer, so we got  a taxi willing to take someone. We agreed on a price and when in the car told us that we also had to pay for tolls. Because of the hour wait we are now stuck in a massive traffic jam. A local soccer team had just won. Lucky us. Bumper to bumper, honking horns, yelling waving flags  and probably 8 lanes across. It took over an hour to get downtown - our driver even drove on the shoulder. His car got hit on the trunk when a mechanical arm came down after he ran a toll .

Once near our hotel, we see that the roads are blocked off - yup, they were not letting cars into our hotel area because of the celebration of the game . Driver says our pesos are no good and wanted US dollars. Ok fine ( later we found out this is a scam. Carry a small amount in a pocket, do not show wallet with money and if they say it is not good, you say that is all you have or will they take credit card? etc. Usually they will take your pesos and definitely USD, but know the exchange rate).  Our driver tried to get close to the hotel and we have to schlep uphill with our luggage 3 blocks. Finally, we made  it to the Amerian Park Hotel Buenos Aires, checked-in and had half an hour before the restaurant stops serving food . After 22.00 it continues as a bar.

 

We used the HAL bus transport from the Santiago airport to the cruise ship on our last visit and we had hoped for a more enhanced and private tour . We had a recommendation for Personal Tours Chile and we contacted and agreed with them for a visit to a winery and a local lunch before our transport to the ship . They were another no show . (Later said he was there, but we could not find him). When contacting them from the airport we were told that we were scheduled to meet at 2 PM instead of 9 AM . This was contrary to our agreement . Plan B became to catch a ride to the port and arrive early at the port . We thought that we had a legitimate cab and agreed on a price before entering the car . However after leaving the airport we stopped at a gas station and the person who "booked" our cab and a 3rd guy showed up demanding full payment threatening to leave us if we didn't pay.  DW tried 2 ATM's they took us to, thankfully didn't work. She then tried our credit card, and that didn't work. They agreed to take pesos with a new price. Long story short, we agreed on a "lower" price and made a white knuckle ride to the port. Later to find out they are"Taxi Pirates" and they did manage to get only a couple hundred USD from our bank. Bank was alerted and we were refunded the amount. We have never had anything like this happen before in all our travels. I guess we were lucky. 

 

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I'm not understanding.  How did they manage to get a couple hundred dollars from your bank?

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12 hours ago, DaisyRose said:

I'm not understanding.  How did they manage to get a couple hundred dollars from your bank?

 

My wife tried her bank card and charge card in the ATM machines in the gas station . One of the men suggested that she try the other ATM in the store . None of them seemed to work . We then tried our card in his portable machine like this .

 

card_zpsi1fidsyy.png

Not being thieves we don't know how they did it .

We don't know if any of the machines had a skimmer attached or perhaps his machine retained our information which he used after we had left .

Edited by scubacruiserx2

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Always use a bank ATM. Don't understand why you said the ATMs weren't working on Sunday?

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15 minutes ago, DanL said:

Always use a bank ATM. Don't understand why you said the ATMs weren't working on Sunday?

 

They work but none of them had cash . We were told that they aren't restocked on weekends or Sundays . We did exchange USD for AP's at a bank in the airport .

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Argentina has big issues right now with their currency. Last I heard, charges at ATM's are as much as $11.00 USD and the most you can get in pesos is around $70.00 USD. 

 

During the tourism season the ATM's run out fast. Same problem here in Uruguay.  You cannot get USD from the ATM except at a bank during business hours as they are emptied to reduce thefts. 

 

Some cards work, some don't. Some with chips don't work - our US card has a chip but in some stores, the chip does not work and the store owner simply swipes it - no PIN needed and it works. 


Not very secure but what can you do? Our vet only takes VISA,  some restaurants only take cash.

I would make sure you have some USD/ Euros as any Cambio will change it for what ever you need in any country down here.

 

 

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I read your posts before my Feb.'19 trip. Very helpful. We were extra cautious at the Santiago airport upon arrival, got our taxi ticket from just outside baggage area, went outside and were directed to an official taxi. No  problem there. In town a taxi driver tried to let us out on the side of the highway. I protested that we could not walk the rest of the way so they took us to the door without a problem. We paid with the money we had exchanged in our hotel. The Hotel Plaza San Francisco let us exchange $100US per room per day.

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22 minutes ago, dog said:

I read your posts before my Feb.'19 trip. Very helpful. We were extra cautious at the Santiago airport upon arrival, got our taxi ticket from just outside baggage area, went outside and were directed to an official taxi. No  problem there. In town a taxi driver tried to let us out on the side of the highway. I protested that we could not walk the rest of the way so they took us to the door without a problem. We paid with the money we had exchanged in our hotel. The Hotel Plaza San Francisco let us exchange $100US per room per day.

 

Excellent , glad that things went well !

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19 hours ago, knittinggirl said:

How horrible! 

 

We're biting the bullet, and getting transfers from HAL.

 

We would not normally recommend ships transfers but in Santiago we think it's a good idea .

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I found a very helpful website:  solsalute.com

The recommendation from her blog says to either book a Remi (similar to Uber) in one of the booths just after exiting customs or Taxi Ezeiza right past the Remis.  Both accept credit cards.  It goes on to say “Do not hail a taxi outside the airport.  They will charge you whatever they feel you’ll pay.”

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Just now, SueMo said:

I found a very helpful website:  solsalute.com

The recommendation from her blog says to either book a Remi (similar to Uber) in one of the booths just after exiting customs or Taxi Ezeiza right past the Remis.  Both accept credit cards.  It goes on to say “Do not hail a taxi outside the airport.  They will charge you whatever they feel you’ll pay.”

This is in Buena Aires, by the way...

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On 10/2/2019 at 2:46 PM, knittinggirl said:

How horrible! 

 

We're biting the bullet, and getting transfers from HAL.

That's what we've decided to do, too.  This will be my 32nd cruise, and the first time to use a HAL transfer, or transfer from any cruise line that we've sailed.  We do not want to get robbed.

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We were hit by a different taxi scam in Santiago.  We had a precruise stay at the Ritz Carlton. I had intended to use the nearby subway station to use that back and forth to downtown.  However, we had language difficulties and couldn’t figure out how to buy passes and load them.  Giving up, we went back to the hotel to get a house car to downtown.  The hotel driver didn’t speak English but was able to make it clear to us to not pay more than 10,000 CLP on the return by taxi.

 

 On return, we caught a taxi, I asked how much it would be to the Ritz in my limited Spanish. He pointed to the meter, so I thought we were ok.  Well, that meter started turning like a slot machine gone wild.  When he stopped (across a major street from the Ritz, rather than the front door) it was around 19,000 CLP. Rather than argue I gave him a 20000 note.  He took it and handed back pointing out a small rip and saying it was no good.  I handed him another and that came back, with him pointing out a small corner ripped off.  At this point, I said I had nothing left but my husband fished out two of his 10000 notes.  We learned later the notes he handed back were actually counterfeit...they had no hologram. So, he had switched my good notes and returned counterfeits. Per, the concierge at the hotel this is a very common scam.

 

In BA, were very careful with taxis after this experience.  We used taxis from the hotel, where they used only Radio Cabs and wrote down cab numbers to ensure they knew who to go back to with issues.  On the return from somewhere, we did take our chances, but only used Radio cabs.

 

 On the last day we wanted to see a number of areas and hired a driver from the Sheraton for 5 hours.  It really wasn’t that expensive ($20 or $25 an hour).He didn’t speak English, but we would just agree on a location and time for each pick up in each area we wanted to see. We got the idea from someone else from our cruise staying at the Park (connected to the Sheraton).  They were a party of 4 and had done this for their entire three day stay and was quite reasonable given that there were four of them. Also, even before stepping foot in BA,  we had the ship concierge arrange for a hotel car to pick us up at the port.  Again, it might have cost just a bit more than a taxi at the port...I seem to recall something like $20, but well worth it.

 

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The night before our ship arrived in BA we received this letter from the Captain .

 

DSC05782_zpsqphf39lt.jpg

 

On our first day in BA our guide told us not not to walk around at night . We stayed at The Sheraton and wanted to walk across the street to take a picture of the hotel . A young man told us " Not safe with a camera " . The third warning was the charm and it finally sank in and we went back into the hotel .

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