My Uber Mexico City Experience & Why I Challenged the Fare

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uber mexico city problem

Uber Mexico City Review

I have made no secret on this blog that I am not a huge fan of taxis in general. In my post about Berlin’s UberTaxi service, I was called out asking why I feel that way. While my opinion comes from numerous bad experiences around the world, I have adjusted my overall view. I don’t like taxis in most situations, however I won’t make blanket statements regarding them anymore.

Of course there are a ton of places around the globe where taxi drivers are known to be absolutely corrupt. Mexico City is definitely one of them. When you exit customs at the airport, there are a ton of “unofficial” taxi drivers who would love to take your money drive you. You can of course pay for a licensed taxi which seems to be fairly legitimate, however you have to deal with cash. Uber really does seem like a great solution.

Since I have been generally loving both Uber & Lyft lately, I decided that I would take Uber from the airport to our hotel in Mexico City’s historical center. After exiting customs, we headed to one of the exit doors and called a ride. That is sort of where things went wrong.

My Uber Mexico City Ride

uber mexico city problem
As you can see, we weren’t taken on a direct route. It was about twice as long as the route Uber quoted.

My phone has international data, however for some reason it was taking awhile to acquire a signal so I connected to the Boingo WiFi and requested a ride. We then headed outside to meet the driver and the data cut out. The driver arrived shortly thereafter in a BMW 3 Series sedan. At this point I knew it had to be UberBlack instead of the UberX I thought I had requested.

I am fully willing to admit I may have made a mistake, however I have no idea how my phone would have been set to UberBlack. Either way, I was willing to accept it and off we went. At some point during the ride though I picked up internet on my phone and noticed we had deviated significantly from the route Uber had originally shown me.

Instead of heading straight into the city, the driver was taking us around to the north. It also isn’t as if this route was any faster. In fact, he drove us right into a scheduled protest where we sat in traffic for an extra 20 minutes. In total, a ride that the Uber app quoted as taking 18 minutes, lasted for a total of 54 minutes. My final cost was of course much higher than expected as well. It came in at 337 MXN or about $20.

Challenging the Route

I have used Uber a number of times and have never had an issue with the route. As you can see from my receipt, we clearly were taken for a “ride”. Anyway, this was the first time I ever decided to challenge a routing. In the Uber receipt email there is a link to contact them regarding your ride. I simply clicked that link and said I had an issue with the route. I also mentioned the UberX vs. UberBlack issue.

Uber’s Response

uber mexico city problem
The first adjustment.

To their credit, Uber responded within a few hours of my ride. Actually, they responded twice. First, I received an adjustment for the route. Uber lowered the price from 337 MXN to 183 MXN. ($20 down to $11). They lowered the price to what it should have been based on the route as originally shown to me. That made perfect sense and I was satisfied.

Then to my surprise, Uber responded again. Suddenly the 183 MXN had been lowered to just 85 MXN or around $5. They had also adjusted for the ride type. I sort of feel bad about this second adjustment and certainly didn’t expect the rate to drop by 75%, but that is the result. I almost feel bad for the driver too, although then I remember that he was the one who decided to take us way off course.

GPS Is a Savior

This situation is a reminder that GPS is a powerful tool. Being in a new city, I had no idea exactly what route we were taking, however the app didn’t lie. Thankfully in my 30+ ridesharing experiences between Uber & Lyft, this is the first time I have ever come across something like this. In fact, just about every time the rate quoted by the app is very accurate. This is still one advantage Uber has over a taxi, even if they can have dishonest drivers as well.

Conclusion

I chose Uber for its simplicity in Mexico City and it ended up turning into a more complicated experience. Still, I am impressed with how they handled things and plan on using them more over the next few days as I get around the city. The truth is there are bad apples everywhere and a company should be judged by how they deal with issues. In this way Uber impressed me.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll make the blanket statement and I don’t care if people don’t like my opinion – I don’t like taxis. I said it. We’re entitled to our opinions, and if others don’t agree with me I can respect that as well as we’re all different.

    I’ve had some less than stellar memories of being in a taxi in Mexico City. I remember one experience vividly. There weren’t enough seat belts and the maniacal driver played chicken and cut through openings that made me feel like I’m on an Indian Jones ride at Disneyland. I literally had to close my eyes a few times. By far, the taxis there were the worst I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps some of it had to do with the nutty drivers there that made me feel like I had to run across a street like Usain Bolt to avoid being run over.

    • I totally agree with you anthonyjh21. I hate it when people are over sensitive about blog posts and being retarded. They need to stop acting like everything in life needs to be politically correct. No it doesn’t. Shit should be called SHIT. Not a pile of roses and rainbows with unicorns.

      Donald Trump obviously takes this concept to a whole new level, but I digress. I too will make the blanket statement and I don’t care if people get offended because I am calling it like it is. Most taxi drivers are scum. I always look them straight in the eye and first ask “are you gonna be legit with me or should I give my money to someone else because I only have cash and have no problem not paying you after I get out”. Works all the time.

  2. Well I’ve been in this metro from mexico city airport for an hour now and I still have to change one more time. It cost 3 pesos but it’s taking forever!

  3. I totally agree with you. 2 Weeks ago, when I was coming home from EWR, the driver took 95 S, instead of North even though I was repeatedly telling him. And he had the GPS on the whole time and he took me that way. My ride was $85 which usually was never > $50. If it is a 10$ difference, I would not have made a deal, but I decided to reach out to Uber. They adjusted the fare to $53 and this is a classic example why I like Uber.

  4. You have to treat taxi drivers like strange dogs. Some of them are friendly, and some of them only lie in wait until you expose your carotid artery. Mexico City is a nexus for the second type. But this, this is a very strong recommendation for Uber. I’m surprised, however, Uber doesn’t simply adopt the custom common in Colombia, where both the driver and passenger are given two-digit identifying code numbers.

  5. Have had terrible experiences in the past in both San Francisco and Paris with taxis and will never take one again if there is another option. We used Uber everywhere in Europe this summer with no problems.

  6. Well, I think you made out great (sorta). Taking the Periferico (the driver’s route) is normally not a crazy idea. I doubt if he was trying to screw you. I mean, the Über estimate of 18 minutes seems optimistic. (Of course, an hour ride is terrible… But Welcome to Mexico.). Uber made things right, so good for them.

    In a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Mexico City for the first time since it’s had Uber, and my take-away from your post is that I’ll TAKE UBER over the horrible cabs.
    I enjoy your posts.

  7. Took essentially the same route from MEX to central for 300 pesos flat. I paid upfront for my cab inside the terminal with one of the authorized companies. No money changed hands in the taxi. Car was a heavy duty SUV and appeared to be hardened (not a bad thing to have there). Driver professional and drove safely. When in certain cities I’ll gladly pay to get safely from A – B. I didn’t deem the fare as outrageous. I knew it would be cheaper with other taxis, but that was the easiest way for me to quietly get a cab and not deal with the risk of hopping in an unlicensed taxi. When in the Distrito Federal..

  8. I live in Mexico City and I use UBER often. Checking your routing map, I would take exactly the same route your driver took! There are some rough places around the airport that I would avoid. Your driver chose the best option for you.. Believe me! That’s sad your driver didn’t get the money he deserved for that trip.

  9. I have few problems with your experience or rather the way you felt and delt with it. Let me share them with you.

    First lets agree that we all take Uber not for simplicity but because it is cheaper than regular taxi. Period.

    Secondly I don’t believe you actually compared the routes in regards to time, ( this is what you get if you have live Google maps connection) you just figured out, post factum, , when Uber send you the receipt via email that the route the driver took you was longer by distance.

    No dynamical comparison ( were you saving on data roaming?) then you decided to add to your unfair description a ” protest event” . How do you know that there were not one or two or five “protest events” on the shortest ( again, geographically) route?

    Finally, you don’t have to feel sorry about the driver getting ripped off second time ( first was the route) by Gringo via Uber management, because of the wrong car you ordered in first place. Just send one more email to the Uber service and ask them to charge you what you should be charged, simple no?

    Now , so we are on the same page, this is not a malicious reply to your post, treat it please more like a positive feedback from the fellow traveler who is fun of your posts, even if sometimes disagree with the way you see or present things.

    • Hey Robert,

      I have no problem with your criticism, however I do want you to know my post is 100% factual. Sure I like to save money, however even if the price were the same, I would probably still take Uber because of the simplicity and not having to deal with money. Secondly, I have free data roaming with T-Mobile on my phone and did compare the route in real time. The route quoted by the app was direct to the Centro whereas this route went way north.

      Also know that I sent Uber a nice email explaining the situation and a local representative from Uber here in Mexico City is the one who decided that the route was worthy of adjusting. Remember, they could have told me something different, but agreed that the route was long. Drivers are not supposed to deviate from the Uber route unless they ask permission. This driver didn’t do that and there wasn’t a language barrier either since I speak some Spanish and my wife is fluent.

      Whether I should ask them to charge me for the UberBlack or not is sort of a fair point. The real issue with that is the problem with the app and not the driver. The app should default to what you always order but somehow it didn’t. The one truth about all of this is I would not have complained had the driver not taken such a long route. I’ll consider what you are saying though.

      All I can say is that I standby my complaint given what happened. I have already taken Uber 3 more times in Mexico City since this and have had no issues. I have also taken Uber/Lyft dozens of times and this is the only issue I had. Thanks for sharing Robert and like I said, I take no offense to this, however I am not stretching the truth or lying in anyway. It doesn’t do me or the readers any good if I do.

      • And you also get a chance at a referral link…

        I personally think that in the MS world you live and breath, $9 savings is great on a scaled basis but the time to “inform” us world traveler idiots who don’t know a taxi from a stuffed teddy bear, $9 is a waste of your time. Except that you stand to scale this with several referral links that are likely to make you $20 multiples.

        Thinly veiled.

        It’s a free country, capitalism lives, and we get hooked into a story that really saves us big Miles, ya?

        • Perhaps you are new to the site, but I share my experiences. In this case I was sharing about the process of challenging a route with Uber. That information is valuable to many people. If you really think I wrote this for the referrals then can you answer why I didn’t put my referral code in the post at all? Yes I informed people they can get the $20 free, but they have to go to a separate page to see that. If I did this for the referrals then I did a really bad job.

  10. @Jose: Good point regarding the route the driver took, as did mine. I knew that there was a more direct route, but I knew that the driver knew what he was doing. The MEX area is not the best.

  11. Pretty sure that’s the standard route for taxi drivers taking you to central Mexico City from the airport. That’s the route I’ve been taken taking one of the taxis you book ahead in the airport. I actually had a driver once take me the “direct route” and it took forever since it was super slow going.

    And 18 minutes to get from the airport to where you are going is joke. Maybe in a helicopter that would be possible or if the guy was driving a Ferrari and there were no cars on the road. Mexico City has a lot of traffic.

    Not trying to bash you or anything, I just think you have to understand that what looks like the most direct route might not always be the fastest/best route.

  12. Routes through Mexico City are not always obvious and always subject to traffic. I think the driver took the correct route, but agree with those that say 18 minutes is impossible.

  13. I agree that the driver’s route was the one that we ALWAYS take (Circuito Interior) when traveling from the airport to the central district. As many have posted, you can’t always just look at the map in Mexico City and draw a line; some neighborhoods are very rough (especially if you’re in a nice BMW), roads are closed, construction, etc. etc. And yes, 18 minutes is possible on a Sunday morning at 6:00 am; otherwise, no way. 51 minutes is much more likely during normal times (and it can be even longer). But I was actually glad to see that Uber is possible to take from the airport since we normally take those overpriced “offical” taxis and I hate it. So we’ll do it when we’re down in a few weeks. Thanks for posting the article.

  14. Oh, for Pete’s sake. After clearing Customs, just step to one of the many taxi desks, purchase a ticket to your destination, follow directions, go outside where your taxi will be waiting, generally a nice one, get in, and go to wherever. The set price is reasonable no matter what route the driver choses. This is not rocket science.

  15. Uber took you the best way to get to the center of Mexico City. I have driven in Mexico City and would have followed the same/similar route he took you. I travel to Mexico City quite a bit and have always been impressed by the Uber service down there, its quick, easy and the drivers are very professional, especially when compared to the Taxi drivers.

  16. I’d really, really suggest checking Waze to compare routes, because that’s the default navigation app used by most Mexico City Uber drivers. And it’s usually right, even though it might sometimes choose incredibly weird routes. As others have mentioned, taking the Circuito Interior northbound from the airport is the usual route, as going “straight” might actually take longer. I’d also like to point out that the Uber app will usually draw a route based on outdated info on either traffic and/or street directions (I’ve seen at least two cases where the Uber “route” chooses the wrong way in one-way streets).

    As for the higher priced service, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a weird bug w.r.t. the Uber app. Some people have requested a Uber unit but for some weird reason, the app ends up selecting “UberSUV” instead. I don’t know if this is a Mexico City-specific bug, but I’ve had at least two friends complain about the same thing.

  17. As someone traveling from the US to Mexico will the fare automatically be deducted from my card on file used here in the US even though I’m in Mexico?

    • Cesar,

      Did you get an answer about using Uber Mexico app on a US credit card? We are visiting Mexico City in a week and wanted to use Uber as we have 2 kids. But wanted to know how Urban worked – is it same app as in US? Do you get charged an international fee on your credit card etc? Any info you have would be most helpful. Thanks!

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