San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Overcharged by a Taxi? File a Complaint

It’s a common problem for those who visit San José’s hotels: oftentimes, taxis waiting outside the door deny service to anyone unwilling to be overcharged, saying they work exclusively for the hotel and charge extra fees for their services. Their target customers are unsuspecting tourists, so locals are often left to find a taxi on the nearest street that will use a meter, called a maría, to calculate the fair.

This is common, but not legitimate. All licensed taxi drivers, whose cars have a yellow registration seal on the door, are required to use meters, and do not have the right to charge special fees for hotel or mall pickup, driving at night, traveling between provinces or other excuses, according to the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP), which oversees the nation’s taxis. The only exceptions are the official orange airport taxis (TT, Aug. 19, 2005).

Public Works and Transport Vice-Minister Viviana Marín told the daily Al Día that any taxi driver who engages in these practices and is reported could lose his or her license.

No complaints have been filed to date, Marín said, attributing this to citizens’ lack of knowledge about the fact that taxis’ licensing agreements require drivers to provide “equality of service.”

To file a complaint, get the taxi’s license plate number and the name of the cooperative to which the driver belongs (usually listed on the lighted sign on top of the car) and call ARESEP at 220-0102 or fax 200-0374.


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