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Clock off, commissions and delegates by WhatsApp: how the mafia of taxis that charge a fixed rate works


They operate in hotels, nightclubs, recitals and restaurant areas. They double or triple the value of the trips than if they turned on the clock. The fight with Uber and the official controls.

"Re passes through this area," says Belén (25), in a bar in

Plaza Serrano

, on a Friday night in March.

He is referring to

"fixed fare" taxi rides


"I would tell you that it is from 5 or 6 in the morning, when leaving the bowling alley. No taxi driver wants to turn on your watch."

Noelia recounts something similar: "I don't know if it's because they see you 'hanging' out of the bowling alley.

It also happened to me in Recoleta, at the same time." 

Lucila talks about the same topic, in another bar in the area.

"We went out dancing and we didn't want to wait for a car from an app. We got into a taxi and didn't realize that

the clock was always off.

We found out when we arrived that the taxi driver asked us for a fixed price. It made us noisy, but We pay the same."  

From what


was able to learn, the trend of

"fixed rate",

which always existed, although to a lesser extent,

grew from the pandemic.

"This starts in the big


. Before Covid-19, the chains worked with radio-taxis," explains a driver, at a gas station in the City.

And he continues: "When work decreases due to restrictions, some taxi drivers agree with the


. In exchange for a 'tip' they begin to pass trips to them. Now the radio-taxis

have very little work."

Based on this agreement between receptionists and taxi drivers, these drivers

created WhatsApp groups of colleagues.

There they pass the trips and the prices.

Whoever "takes" the trip must pay a

commission to the group administrator

(it is done by Mercado Pago), who in turn pays his part to the concierge.

"Since the passengers are tourists, and for them it is a trip in pesos,

they are charged between double and triple what the trip is worth

. Well, that was installed in a part of the City. With tourists and non-tourists" says the same respondent.

One of the areas of the City where there are more taxi drivers who charge abusive rates without turning on the clock is that of the restaurants in Palermo.

Photo: Martin Bonetto

The fixed rate appears in any event or

space with a lot of congestion.

Taxi drivers call it "work agreed".

Last November, at the end of the Coldplay shows at the River stadium, practically all the taxi drivers worked with their clock off.

"For a trip to Palermo they ask us for 8,000 pesos," said a passenger while waiting for the bus on line 15. The same thing happens at the Vélez Sarsfield stadium, at the end of each recital.

"Actually it's something common to every 'taxi rank,'" added another driver, at the gas station.

There are

"stops" at nightclubs in Costanera and Palermo , in



, in the Abasto shopping mall, in the Retiro, Once and Constitución terminals, in the big hotels, in Aeroparque and Ezeiza and

at the exit of recitals or massive shows


They all have a


In some, only during the day and perhaps in the afternoon, you work with your watch on.


at night, it is at a fixed rate.

Those who do not can not continue at the stop.

"So much so that we fought against Uber...

we ended up doing the same as them

," added another taxi driver, somewhat resigned.

"Those who do it are collecting a lot. Although you also have someone who charges a very expensive trip and prefers to make two or three trips and return home in a few hours."

That is the


of the taxi drivers, the logic of Uber and the rest of the applications.

During peak times and areas


when there are more riders wanting to ride than drivers are available in the area,

Uber raises its prices

to encourage drivers to get out to work and head to high-demand areas.

"They do the same thing. What happens is that today maintaining a car is very difficult. Nobody knows our expenses. And we assure it and the passenger knows it well: the applications started being cheaper than the taxi. But today the taxi is

more cheap.

That's another justification for charging them a fixed rate," they say.

The cheapest daily rental car (a Fiat Siena) starts at

12,000 pesos.

For a van you can pay between 15 thousand and 16 thousand.

The owner who rents his taxi must pay a social charge that costs 91 thousand pesos per month.

And an insurance represents another 33 thousand pesos. 

At Aeroparque, the taxi drivers who charge abusive fares are in the international arrivals area.

Photo: Guillermo Rodríguez Adami

These are data that list the sources consulted by


to explain the expenses they face.

The fixed rate option

is prohibited by the City Government


But to the listed circuits are added the rainy days, or those of the Boca or River match, to the first leg.

Others take advantage of the taxi shortage.

It is estimated that at the end of 2015 there were 38 thousand authorized cars and that four years later 60% were missing.

"Then you need a car, the applications take time, there are few taxis, the driver knows it: you stop him and he asks you for the price he wants," explain those consulted by



From the City Government they say that during 2022 169,696 transport controls were carried out in 2,627 posts.

As a result, 529 taxi drivers were cited, "of which 486 were suspended."

The only place in the City where the fixed rate regulated by the Buenos Aires Government works is Aeroparque.

Photo: Constance Niscovolos

They added that "mischarging or non-use of the taximeter clock, or the requirement of a fixed rate" are the main reasons for suspensions. 

"The Transit and Transportation Code provides that if facts to the detriment of users are verified,

the license will be preventively suspended

and, if it is repeated, it can be resolved in



," the Buenos Aires sources assured, adding: "This type of situations it is necessary to report them through the City's chat, at 147 or before a prosecutor's office with the license or license number of the vehicle that tried to charge an abusive price".

For now, the only space in the City where a

fixed rate system works is Aeroparque

, but in the national arrivals sector.

A QR is scanned that leads to the BA Taxi app, the data is entered and the system determines the rate that the taxi driver should charge.

Although when it was installed it was assured that it would be implemented in the Retiro bus terminal and other passenger transfer centers, it never happened.

Report: Malena Martos


Clarín Master's Degree



look also

"The mafia continues, it has not finished going": in Aeroparque there are still taxis that charge what they want and even have false QR

Aeroparque: complaints and delays due to a work without signaling and lack of traffic agents

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-18

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