Monday, June 14, 2010

Q&A

I have noticed that quite a few people ask questions in the comments sections and I don't mind answering them, so I thought we should try a true Q&A. If you have ever wanted to know something about Las Vegas or the cab business or this blog or the stories on it or why the sky is blue or anything at all now is the time. I think this could be interesting.

With that, I would like to open this blog up to your questions. Please post your questions in the comments section of this post or you can email me at lasvegascabbiechronicles@gmail.com or on twitter. I will post your questions here and do my best to answer them. I may even copy general questions that come up in future here as well so that this may serve as a resource. This means that I won't have to answer the same stuff repeatedly in the future like I have already.

I said in the MGM letter that Vegas visitors count on their cabbie for information and if that is true, it's time for me to do my part.

As always thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you - Andrew

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Anonymous asked: Why are cabs Yellow?

I realize you’re joking, but for the benefit of those who may not be in the know:

Firstly, all of the cabs in Las Vegas are not yellow. All of Yellow Cab’s cabs are yellow. There are 16 different cab companies in Las Vegas and they all have different paint and color schemes.

It is my understanding that this started in New York City. Every cab in NYC is yellow and to my knowledge, this is a requirement made by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (equivalent to the Nevada TaxiCab Authority), the governing body for the industry in New York. I believe it was determined long ago that yellow is the most easily noticed color so it was mandated that all cabs be yellow.


Bushman (and anonymous) want to know: How stupid is Wynn for the $20 daily resort fee? …As a follow up to the previous poster, those of us who are regular Vegas visitors are aware of the stupid resort fees, but is the average customer aware they're being ripped off? I can't imagine many travel agents are warning people about the fees when they book their trips...

I think one thing we will find during this process is that my knowledge will be limited on things that pertain directly to being an actual guest at the hotels. People ask me all the time what time the pools close and stuff like that but I’m not really sure. (although I know pools close early) Those are the kinds of things you learn when you stay at the hotel. As you might imagine, I don’t stay at these hotels very often. In fact only on one occasion, for one night, in my 11 years in Vegas. Coincidentally I stayed at the Wynn because they had promotion shortly after opening for a free night’s stay for cabbies.

As it were, I too am a little interested about this so I decided to call the Wynn to try and figure out what the deal was. I spoke to Ashley and she informed me when I inquired about the “resort fee” that it covers basically four things; the gym, internet service, phone calls and the airline boarding pass printing service. Ashley also told me that the Wynn resort fee was just implemented on June 10th 2010. Prior to this arrangement, a guest would pay separately for these services as needed. Previously, a guest would pay $30 a day for access to the gym, $13.99 per day for internet service and all phone calls from the room billed separately. So naturally, Ashley sold it as a savings and a good deal for the guests there. Then I asked her-

ME: Is the resort fee mandatory?

Ashley: Yes it is applicable to all guests.

ME: Even if I don’t use any of those services?

Ashley: That is correct sir.

ME: What if I am unable to use those services?

Ashley: What do you mean?

ME: What if I’m handicapped, don’t own a computer, don’t have anyone to call and drove into town? I’m not even capable of taking advantage of services but you’re required to charge me? That doesn't seem right.

Ashley: Well I’m sorry about that sir but that is the policy.

ME: Is the Wynn the only hotel on the Strip that has such a policy?

Ashley: No, many other hotels do as well.

ME: If I make a reservation through a 3rd party agency, are they going to let me know about this or am I only going to find out about it at checkout?

Ashley: All 3rd party sellers are required to inform customers of the new policy sir.

ME: I can’t believe that all 3rd party agents and sellers are going to be diligent in properly informing customers. Aren’t you worried about people being mislead?

Ashley said that’s not for her to decide, and she’s right.

So is it stupid for the Wynn to be doing this? I don’t know. No doubt it comes down to money. Companies are always looking for an extra slice. But buyer beware should always prevail. We should never let the fact that “they are supposed to tell us” detract us as buyers from doing our own homework. Which in effect is what you are doing now so kudos to you.

If it were me, and I was booking a room, I’d rather you just quote me a price that was $20 more for the room with the knowledge that all of those services at that hotel were complimentary. I think you could leave customers with the impression that that hotel was amazing as opposed to possibly feeling slighted.


Notorono asked: Top stuff, as a Brit hailing from a service culture devoid of tipping what is the etiquette for Las Vegas cabs?


It’s not any different than what you should tip your waiters. 15% is customary. More for stellar service, less if bad service. Nothing if the guy takes you the long-way. That said, I have always said that you should never give your cabbie less than $10 total. For example, if your fare is only $5, that means that you went a very short distance, somewhere you could have walked, and in theory the driver should be compensated for that. According to the percentage I just told you, you should tip .75cents on a $5 fare but that's just a waste of my time. I would have been better off refusing you and picking up the next guy. If the ride total is over ten bucks you can use your percentages.

I know most Brits are familiar with the term “service charge” as opposed to a gratuity or tip. It’s basically the same thing. Just assume there is a $2-$5 service charge on every ride. Tip me more than $10 and I'll promise to support your futbol club.


Matt wants to know: I come to Vegas every now and again for the day for work. If I wanted to ride in YOUR cab to swap stories, is that even possible - or do I take my chances in line at the airport as per usual?

Follow up question, what are the ODDS that I would randomly get you as my cabbie?!


Yes this is possible. Anybody planning on visiting Las Vegas is more than welcome to contact me in advance (email preferred) and I will gladly see to it that you are taken care of while you are here. I have many regulars that call me every time they are in town and a good number of those came as a result of this blog. All of which have turned to out be great people and I’m privileged to call them customers, dare I say friends.

If you are arriving at the airport, that is not a problem. There is a special location for people waiting for their personal drivers. What, if my Mom is flying to town, and just so happens to be landing while I’m working I can’t go pick her up? I have to let one of these crazies take her? No. There is a place to pick up regulars and if you are good, you will call me as soon as you land which will give me 20 minutes to finish up whatever it is I’m doing and I can be there as soon as you walk outside. ;)

Keeping in mind I work nights, no matter where in town you are I can pick you up.

Email me at lasvegascabbiechronicles@gmail.com

Regarding your follow up: The odds are as long as they are impossible to calculate. That said, on two occasions I managed to pick up someone that I already had, within the same weekend, totally by chance. Once was two guys, I had dropped them at the Convention Center, daytime, and then two nights later I picked them up at Rhino at 2am and they remembered me. I didn’t remember them. They reminded me that we had talked about the ad for Crazy Girls, ya know the girls butts one? Which we had, and I remembered them then. The second was a lady I dropped off at NYNY and along the way she mentioned that she was going to the Sterling Club later at Turnberry and then sure enough I happened to be at NYNY a few hours later and managed to pick her up again.

But those don’t compare to the time I picked up my cousin at the airport, completely by chance. Actually, not my cousin. My brother’s godfather’s nephew. Crazy. Hey Bill what’s going on?


@KapKa0s from twitter would like to know: What kind of money do u pull in on a good night?

4 years ago, if I netted a 1000 a week I would say I had a good week. Today I would say that was an outstanding week. If I netted over 200 in a day I would call that a good day. This varies greatly on the day of the week though. A great day for a Tuesday is not the same as a great day for a Friday. On 3 occasions I have gone home with over a 1000 in my pocket. Keep in mind, I work 11 or 12 hours usually.


Anonymous wants to know: Where is best place to stay if you are a girl alone who wants to go sightseeing? I was told never to go alone to Vegas but I want to anyway. A place that is not crazy expensive. Thanks.

Thank you. This is a good question as I have never heard it before. I’m sitting in my cab as I type this, my shift is almost over and I’ve been mulling on this one all day.

First off, the individual who told you not to come here by yourself is a fool. I assume the pretext of that advice was that it would be unsafe for a single female in Las Vegas. That is absolute hogwash. Las Vegas, particularly the Strip, is incredibly safe. There are more cameras in this town than anywhere in the world and all of the properties are stocked full of security guards. It’s in everyone’s best interest that Las Vegas be a safe city. It’s a very very rare thing to hear about a tourist having a problem getting jumped or mugged or something. It happens so little I’m safe to say it never happens. And that said, certainly you can find some like minded people to have a drink or two with providing you’re not a total introvert. That aside, some of the best shows, restaurants, shopping and pools and spas in the world are right here, that’s enough to make any girl I’ve ever known giddy.

So where to stay? As I said, I’ve thought a lot about this and I came up with two places. Location is important for you, as I’m sure you’ll want to walk around a lot, and any first time visitor needs to stay on the Strip. If I were you, I would stay at Caesars or Paris. Caesars will be a little more money most likely but the Forum Shops there are awesome, they have a great pool and some of my favorite food on the strip is at Caesars. Paris is a very nice hotel, but not too much $$$, some great food there too and it’s right across the street from the fountains at Bellagio, which you need to see and right next door to the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood. You could also have lunch on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi and later go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and get a great nighttime view of Las Vegas. From either Caesars or Paris, you can walk to a dozen different places.



Anonymous asked: Why are you 86'd from The Venetian?


Well fortunately enough, it was only a 24 hour ban. The reason for being kicked off the property and not allowed back for a day is as follows:

I had 3 annoying Brooklyn girls in the cab that I picked up at the Palms and they were going to the Palazzo. I took Wynn Rd. straight north out of the Palms to Spring Mtn. and took that east to the strip. We made a right turn onto the strip and at the first stoplight you can make a left into the Palazzo. While we were waiting at that light, to turn into the Palazzo, the girls indicated that they wanted to go to the Walgreens there which is situated right on the strip in between the Venetian & Palazzo towers. They asked that I drop them off nearby there.

In order to understand why I was 86'd, you must first understand the Venetian & Palazzo properties. At every entrance onto either of those properties there are manned security check points that stop every vehicle coming on property. Venetian & Palazzo are the ONLY properties in town that do this and it is beyond cumbersome. Some other properties have similar checkpoints entering the parking garages but not to simply enter the property altogether like the Venetian & Palazzo. These checkpoints, and the security guards that man them, are beyond pointless. They simply stop every vehicle, the guard pretends to look inside your vehicle and then waves you by. It's all about the illusion of security. Due to the sheer shortness of the driveways at these properties, and the mandatory security stop's location, the inevitable result of stopping every vehicle entering the property, which is well into the 1000's daily I'm sure, is that traffic gets backed up, usually out to the street which blocks through vehicles northbound on the strip that are not even attempting to enter Venetian or Palazzo property. The fact that these checkpoints routinely result in blocking traffic on City streets is something I think the City should have remedied a long time ago. To my knowledge, you need a permit to block traffic or close a road, however the Venetian & Palazzo do it countless times daily. I won’t speculate as to the reason(s) that Venetian & Palazzo are the only ones that do this.

Additionally, there is this notion that a cabbie cannot pick up or drop off anywhere he wants too. He must do so on a stand, or so the myth goes. This is actually a topic that I am currently writing about and hope to have that story completed soon. I plan on examining this particular issue extensively so stay tuned for more on that particular aspect.

The girls wanted to get dropped off at Walgreens and the only way to effectively do that is to stop at the start of the Palazzo driveway and let them out. If I choose to do what the Palazzo security guards would want me to do, take them all the way up to the door of the hotel, then my passengers are going to bitch at me for making them walk a good distance. This is a catch 22 if there ever was one. Somebody is getting pissed off, either my customers or a Palazzo security guard. Considering I strive to give good service to my passengers, and I could care less about small cock’d, power hungry security guards, I decided to do right by my customers and let the girls out where they requested they be let out.

In preparation for this, as we waited for the light to change I told the girls to pay me then so when I pulled up and stopped there they could jump out real quick and we could limit the amount of time I would be stopped. I did everything in my power to expedite the process and when we got the green arrow, as soon as I passed the sea of pedestrian traffic jaywalking in the crosswalk, I pulled over to the right as far as I could, allowing enough room for cars to get around me, turned my four-ways on and as soon as I came to a stop I told the girls to hurry out, as we were blocking traffic. Right on cue, Martin, the resident Palazzo security guard/douche begins yelling and pointing at me and then starts running towards me from his guard shack. By the time he makes the 50 feet from his shack to my cab my passengers are already gone. But that isn’t going to stop Martin from demonstrating for everyone within an earshot how small his penis is. He comes up to my driver window, 3 feet from my face, yelling.

"YOU CAN’T DROP OFF THERE YOU CAN DROP OFF THERE! CABBIE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU’RE BLOCKING TRAFFIC!"

"Blocking traffic? You block traffic all day everyday right here, what’s the difference?"

"YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DROP OFF RIGHT HERE."

"Really? Where’s the sign that says that?"

"YOU KNOW THAT. YOU CAN’T DROP OFF HERE!"

"Again, where is the sign that indicates this? I’m just supposed to magically know that? That’s a lot of stuff to remember man."

"BULLSHIT. YOU KNOW DAMN WELL!"

"The only sign around here I see is a your stop sign, coincidentally enough. I stopped. What’s the problem? You stop traffic here all day. What’s the difference if I do it or you do it. Either way, everyone is stopping. I might as well take care of our guests don’t you think?"

"KEEP IT UP DRIVER AND I’M GOING TO TRESPASS YOU. DON’T MAKE ME CALL YOUR COMPANY."

"Seriously Martin? A cabbie talks back to you and you gotta go tell on me? Can’t handle your own business huh? You need somebody else to do it for you? And the fact that you think anybody besides you cares is a fair indicator of your intelligence. I’ll save you the suspense Martin, nobody cares. Only you. Call whoever want to, let me know how it works out for you."

Meanwhile by this point, thanks to Martin, I have now been blocking traffic for a full minute at least and I would have been long gone 50 seconds ago had Martin not been on a power trip. How much irony is there in the fact that he is giving me shit for blocking traffic, but the only way to accomplish this task is to detain me, thus blocking traffic.

"YOU LEAVE THIS PROPERTY RIGHT NOW! I WILL TRESPASS YOU I PROMISE!"

"What makes you think I want to stay at this dump? Oh no not that Martin. Anything but that. I love coming here so much and dealing with you, please don’t take that away from me sir."

"OK GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE DRIVER, RIGHT NOW!"

I started to pull away and as I slowly crept away from Martin I said,

"You know how important you are Martin? They gave you a flashlight! How neat is that huh? Don’t shine it in my eyes though ok buddy? That might hurt my eyes ya know? Temporary Blindness over here!"

I continued up the driveway and around the drop-off area by the front door of Palazzo and as I passed the tunnel to go down to the loading area I contemplated going down there and loading anyway. I thought better of pressing my luck though and decided instead to blow a kiss to Martin as I exited the Palazzo. I think that was what actually pissed him off. I might’ve been good had I not done that.

But sure enough, a half an hour later my dispatch is looking for me on the 2-way. I respond and they tell me over the air that I am not allowed on Venetian or Palazzo property for the remainder of my shift. I called my dispatcher on the phone in an attempt to find out exactly what they said. Turns out they told my supervisor that I “cursed out” one of the Palazzo security guards “repeatedly“.

So why only 24 hours? Because in all likelihood, I’ll be driving another cab tomorrow or next week and to try and keep me off of their property based on my cab number is going to be next to impossible. Furthermore, if they wanted to trespass me permanently, for real, they are going to need to get Metro there to inform me. Which brings me to the real reason why this is silly. They can keep me from picking up there, for a shift, but they can’t prevent me from dropping off there. By law, I must take my passengers where they request to go. So in a nutshell I was banned from doing something I rarely do anyway, pick up at the Venetian or Palazzo.

Throughout the rest of that night I believe I dropped off there 3 times and hey guess what? I picked up at Venetian later that evening. Fuck yourself Martin ok?

Interestingly, this is the first time in 6 years of driving that I have been 86’d from private property and in talking to fellow drivers, I’m way way below average on that one.

The girls tipped me two dollars for my trouble.


@kmorris9090 from twitter wants to know: Love your stories. 2 questions- Any cab scams LV visitors should be aware of? How much is the fare from McCarran to Paris or Ballys?

The biggest and really only scam in the cab business is long-hauling or taking a route longer than necessary. If you are staying on the strip and you take a cab from the airport, if your meters breaks the $20 threshold you should start to ask some questions. You can even be downtown for less than $25. (keep in mind there is an additional $1.80 fee from the airport). As a general rule if you end up in a tunnel or on a freeway you are probably being long-hauled.

I should also caution those seeking the "sin" side of the city to be very careful in asking cabbies for advice. Oftentimes they have a motive to steer you in the wrong direction.

A cab from the airport to Paris or Ballys specifically should run you ~$12 plus $1.80.

Anonymous asks: Cabbie- all the blogs that I used to read have basically gone dormant, leaving me with few outlets for fucking off and procrastinating on real work...so my question is: what active blogs are you currently reading?

I don't read a lot of blogs. Due to the nature of my occupation, it makes more sense for me to read books as I am not online very much. Most of my time on the computer is spent writing, not reading. That said I love http://waiterrant.net/. I've had the privilege of meeting The Waiter and not only is he a great guy but a fantastic writer.

I also support http://kristinandlogan.blogspot.com/. Kristin is a dear friend who has supported my page since it's inception. She blogs about being a stay at home mother with her two boys in Ft. Collins. Personally, it helps me keep up to date on my friends but anyone interested in a stay at home mothers perspective would enjoy this page as she does a great job with it.

Recently I've been reading http://taopoker.blogspot.com/ Pauly updates practically everyday and if you enjoy poker in the slightest you will enjoy taopoker. But it's more than that as Pauly links to all sorts of things. He also works on a page called truckin which is a online magazine of a collection of short stories. There is a chance I may submit a story there someday. Pauly has been a big supporter of my blog and I hope to return the favor.


Anonymous asks: To follow up on Notorono's question, are you paid a small hourly salary like a waiter or is your only income from driving and tips? Could you survive without tips?

No I can't survive without tips. My tips are the only portion of my moneys that I don't have to split with anyone.

Drivers in Las Vegas are not paid an hourly wage. It's more of a commission type of setup. I get a percentage of the meter amount + my tips. The exact percentage varies on a few things but mainly the specific company that employs you (they all have different arrangements) and your seniority with that company. I believe the lowest percentage of the meter any driver could get is 39% and the most is 50%.

It's important to understand how the long-hauling problem is linked to this percentage/commission based pay structure. In this system, the company has a considerable interest in the amount of money each cab earns in any given shift. If I'm getting 39% of the fare totals, that means the company is getting 61% so the more I "book" the more money they make. This as opposed to the basic arrangement in NYC where I can pay a lease per diem and whatever I make is what I make. In that situation, the only thing the company has to think about is you bringing the cab back in one piece. In Vegas you have to bring it back in one piece, and with a satisfactory booking or be prepared to face the consequences.

And there are other factors too that you haven't thought of:

Trip Charges: Some companies charge you a "trip charge" every time you turn your meter on. In effect, this is a means for the company to nickle and dime the shit out of you. Some companies do not have them, others are as much as $1/trip. That means if you have 30 rides in one night you will be paying the company an additional $30 in trip charges.

Trip Sheet Fee: A handful of companies wont charge you individual trip charges but will charge you a rate for the trip sheet itself. That's right, you pay for a piece of paper.

Gas: Again depending on what company you work for, and how long you've been there, you could pay nothing for gas, or you could be paying for all of it.

A basic rule of thumb is that a driver will take home 1/3 of his meter total plus his tips. So if I booked $300 and had $50 in tips on a shift I would have netted $150 for the day.

Anonymous asks: Been a follower for years. I have three questions for you.

What's your biggest ever fare, biggest ever tip and your favorite route or area to drive around?


The biggest fare total I have had, although I don't recall the exact amount, was right around $340 bucks. I took a gentlemen to the brothels in Pahrump, NV. which is about 45 miles out of town. I waited for him there and then brought him back to Mirage. He paid me a deposit before we left town. Now that I think about it, I should probably tell that story on this blog sometime.

A long time ago I told the story about Kisha and her $58.05 tip that, at that time, was my largest ever. Well that was a long time ago and I never told any stories about tips that surpassed that one. Since then I have gotten $100 bill for a nominal ride on a few occasions. But those have been surpassed by a lady who gave me 7 20's for a $16 fare. So $124 bucks is the current high water mark.

I loaded her at Mandalay Bay and she was going to Luxor, right next door. She mentions that we were going to be looking for a cab over there. I thought that was a little strange so I asked and she told me that her and her two friends shared a cab to Mandalay where she got out and the other two were going to Luxor. This is how she knew where that cab was going and considering it had just left, and she had just realized she had left behind her phone in it, our mission was to go to Luxor to try and find the cab and her phone. Of course, she didn't know the cab number.

We drive around Luxor and she doesn't spot any cabs that she thinks is the one she was in before. So I asked her if she tried calling her phone, to which she responds, "no I didn't, that's a good idea." So I get the number from her and dial it on my phone. Right away somebody picks it up and as luck would have it, it's the cab driver. I explain the situation and tell him to wait there where he was at the Paris and we are on the way.

When we arrive he is right where he said he was, phone in hand. I tell the lady I'll go get it from the guy and that it would be nice if she had 20 bucks to give him. She agrees easily and I get out walk over to where he was, thank him for the phone and hand him the 20 bucks for his trouble.

On the way back to Mandalay Bay she confesses to me that that is her work phone and she is in town for work and to lose that phone while here would have been a catastrophe. Considering I "saved" her, she wanted to take care of me handsomely. So much so that she made me stop at a gas station so she could use the ATM to get more cash to give me. Awesome. $124.

My favorite part of town to work is the center Strip. I prefer to nickle and dime rides but to get as many as possible. On a busy night, this is definitely the best method for making money in my opinion.



Matt asks: Has there ever been a time when someone didn't tip you but they actually had a good reason for it?


Yes many. This usually happens for one of a few reasons.

-I gave you bad service. If I long-hauled you or was in a grumpy mood and didn't make you feel welcomed. Customers have withheld a gratuity before in situations such as these and for good reason. I didn't deserve one.

-They didn't have anymore money. Countless times customers have had just enough money to cover the fair and nothing extra for me. No doubt some of those were full of shit but if you don't have anymore cash you don't have anymore cash.

-I fucked up. There have been a few occasions where I made a wrong turn or misheard you and took you to, or started to take you to, the wrong place. In this situation I probably don't deserve a tip and in most cases I will even discount the meter amount to what the fare should have been had I not made the mistake.

Outside of getting long-hauled, getting really shitty service or the driver making a mistake, I can't think of any good reasons not to tip your driver. If you think you know of any please let me know I'd love to hear them.

Anonymous & Carl want to know: Hey, love reading your blog. I know you mentioned long hauling. If I were to take a cab from the airport to the MGM, how can I ask the cabbie not to long haul me without insulting the driver. I don't want them to accuse them of intentionally scamming me, but I also don't want to be scammed at the same time. What do you think?

Yes yes...long hauling. It's hot button issue not only for the riding public but for the cabbies as well believe it or not.

To answer your question directly, I don't think there is an easy way to do it. I don't care how much you sugar coat it, you're still basically accusing me of some shit before I've even had the chance to do right by you. That said, you shouldn't care. The long hauling problem has reached epidemic proportions and if you telling the guy not to screw you pisses him off, than so be it.

You have EVERY RIGHT to give me a specific (lawful) direction as they pertain to route being taken, and I am required by law to abide it.

Here is the law, read it for yourself. Know it. Cite it to a driver later if you must.

NRS 706.8846 Prohibited acts concerning destination of passenger. With respect to a passenger’s destination, a driver shall not:

1. Deceive or attempt to deceive any passenger who rides or desires to ride in the driver’s taxicab.

2. Convey or attempt to convey any passenger to a destination other than the one directed by the passenger.

3. Take a longer route to the passenger’s destination than is necessary, unless specifically requested so to do by the passenger.

4. Fail to comply with the reasonable and lawful requests of the passenger as to speed of travel and route to be taken.



Very simple isn't it? The driver cannot deceive you, he cannot lie to you. Keep that in mind when you hear things like, "that road is closed" or "this way is faster". He must take you where you tell him to take you. Also, he must take the must direct route to your destination, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED SO TO DO BY YOU! Now, there is mantra within the industry, the TaxiCab Authority included, that if the driver "sells" the ride he will not be cited. (One could debate the motives an administrative body has at play when taking such a loose interpretation to a legitimate and really sole, public concern. ) To me that is total hogwash. To me, a "sale" is not a specific request. A specific request is you getting in my cab and saying, "I'm going to Mandalay Bay could you take the freeway there please?" And even if you want to assume that; a sale brought up by the driver, and a specific request brought up by you are synonymous within this statute, than one still has to abide by the first part of the statute. The driver cannot deceive you. If you allow that the "selling" of rides is permissible under this statute, realize that the driver cannot lie to you as a means of achieving this "sale". And I promise you, if I'm going to sell you on why a $14 ride to the Venetian needs to be $24 ride than there is going to be bullshit floating around.

That said, I hope we can keep things in perspective. We are after all, talking about a few dollars. If getting had by a cabbie for 6 bucks was the worst thing that happened to you in Vegas I'd say you ended up pretty good. I'm not saying any of this long-hauling business is ok by any means, but let's not blow things out of proportion.

Last but not least, and I've touched on this before, if you think this is strictly about individual cab driver's greed than you are sorely mistaken. There are considerable pressures on Las Vegas cabbies to "perform" so the crooks thrive and the honest cabbies do what they have to to keep up. Once my time in the cab business has run it's course, I will assuredly fill in the blanks in on all of the behind the scenes activities. As it is today, I am unwilling to rock the boat I'm sitting in. The simple fact that I'm refraining from talking about it should be a fair indicator as to the level of muck I'm currently wading in. This blog has never been about that stuff anyway.

Not so much a question but in the long-hauling vein and something I wanted to touch on. Tarpie adds: I arrived last Thursday night. As we started to veer off to the I-215/I-15 signs I just said "No highway please." This actually pissed the driver off and he lied under his breath about traffic. Of course it was real smooth sailing to the Flamingo. I have a 100% track record on being long-hauled/attempted long-haul to the IP to Flamingo stretch of the strip. Very depressing. As you get up towards the Palazzo, taking the highway starts to make more sense...not sure where the cutoff line is for surface versus highway being the quickest/cheapest.

I think a polite way of saying "please don't screw me" is to say "no highway please" when you get in the cab.


Notice how in the first part of Tarpie's comment, he(or she?) mentions driver "lied...about traffic". See what I mean?

I do however, take issue with the second half of your comment. (no traffic in all examples here) From the airport, there isn't a "cutoff line" where the freeway starts to make financial sense. I don't buy the argument that the highway is faster either, I never have. I might give you that it's faster to Ti, or Mirage. That's it and only because you shoot off Spring Mtn exit and you are right there. Literally everywhere else you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the freeway is faster from the airport. If it was faster it's going to be measured more in seconds than in minutes. The center of the Strip is like a 4 mile drive from the airport on the surface roads and takes 10 minutes tops. Your (the proverbial you) telling me we're going to make up a meaningful amount of time by adding 3 miles and in the process we're going to head south before we go north? I don't think so. Besides any property on the East side of the strip it's basically retarded to take the freeway. Crossing over the Blvd. when it's not necessary does not a punctual ride make.

Yes, "no highway please" works just fine.

Lastly on this (for now anyway) I'm going to copy to here something I said on this topic in a previous post's comments. I think there is some good advice here even though you may not do what I do. If nothing else, please take away the "T.A." and the importance of getting the cab number...

I've made the joke that the first long-haul probably happened soon after the first cab started picking people up. It's the nature of things.

I will admit that I've done it many times. It's not something I'm proud of but it happened.

My advice would be to do what I do. You've all been here enough times. You have a basic idea of which direction you need to go or about how much it should cost, especially if your going back to the place that you came from for example.

When I get in a cab, which I have done many times, usually when I'm hammered and going home, I never let on that I'm a cab driver and I never tell him which way to go (unless he asks) and then I just sit back and see how he plays it. I give them the opportunity to do the right thing. And if and when he doesn't, I know which direction he should of went, I know how much it should cost, and that's what I pay him.

"I dont' give a shit what the fuckin meter says. I know it cost me x to get home from here and that's what I'm paying you. If you have a problem with that you can call the TA and get them here and explain to them the route that you took and after they tell me to give you x dollars they are going to write you a ticket." That's what you say. And then hold your ground.

Stand up for yourself. Stand up for what's right. Just saying the two magical letters "T.A." will usually be enough to make the guy play it straight.

If you have real problems with a cab driver always get the cab number. It's posted everywhere on the outside of the car and inside by the permit. This is paramount. The number for TA is 702-486-6532. It is also posted in the cab on the drivers permit. The permit is also numbered and it's a bonus if you remember that. It's a 5 or 6 digit number in red.

But fear not. There are many many many times more crimes committed against Las Vegas Cabbies than they commit against you. The instances of a cabbie assaulting, a victim or anything else for that matter are very rare.

Champ wants to know: "I have a buddy that usually arranges a complimentary limo when we arrive in town. Provided by the MGM resorts.

It's free as far as we are concerned...but I'll tip usually $20 or more coming or going to the airport. How do these guys get compensated? And am I tipping a good amount? Too little or too much?

It's funny cause I would think $20 is fair, but I get deflated looks more often than not. While my buddy gets this as a comp, we are not ballers, so maybe the drivers are used to the big wigs with a fresh wad tipping fatty?"


Last part first, the ballers are not the tippers usually. This is something I learned after a few days of hacking.

I believe the casino employed limo driver is paid an hourly wage, probably not a very good one, plus tips. I'll come right out and tell you that giving the driver a 20 in the situation you're describing is more than adequate. Especially if it's just a pick & drop scenario. You didn't ask the guy to cruise the strip and stop by a liquor store did you? If not, and he's got a problem with your 20 bucks, then he can go fuck himself. I promise you, there is a good number of people that stiff their comped limo driver. I've thought that before and you don't have to know that to know that. If you really are a baller, from say Taiwan, and you're dropping 6 figs+ at the Wynn on a regular basis, you're not the guy who thinks about stopping to give your Maybach driver some bills. Without knowing any more about it than I do, I'll betcha that casino limo drivers get stiffed more than private company drivers.

Just to figure out what you should be tipping though for the hell of it. Let's say you hired that car instead of had it comped...which actually brings up a point, if you are ever comped anything in Vegas, you should still tip what the actual bill would have been. As Champ's already knew, getting a comp does not mean a cop-out on the tip. When the cocktail waitress brings you your Budweiser, you give her a dollar. When you get a comp breakfast, you leave your $5 spot or whatever it should be. When you get a comp bottle at the club, you still need to drop at least $100 for the servers. The valet gets a few dollars. On and on, and the comp limo ride is no different, you should tip on what the ride would have cost, what the fair market is.

So if you hired that car for a pick/drop from the port to the Strip for $100, and in sticking with our %15 protocol explained previously, your 20 bucks is more than enough. And hey guess what, that car probably isn't even going to cost you a hundred. I believe you can get a town car for less than 50 and a regular stretch for a good bit under $100.

Lastly however, just to give a bit of insight as to the mind of a driver, and no he should never sweat you because you gave him $20, but maybe if your flight got delayed and he had to kill time at the airport, and then your bags didn't show up, and then you wanted to cruise the strip and stop by liquor stores and then it's like, "man, that fucker only gave me a 20 for all that?"

If any limo drivers, particularly casino employed drivers ever come around here, we would love to hear from you on this topic.


It's not so much a question but it serves to bring up a point. Henna says: "I think you are right, its better to complain (about longhauling) rather than get harassed by the foul talking taxi driver, instead of talking uselessly to them, why not just complain and get rid of it. Being nice is no good if the other person is as bad!!

I believe most if not all cab companies will refund your monies if you get screwed by one of their drivers, as long as you have all of the PERTINENT INFORMATION as prescribed above^^. Just call them up. Furthermore if you make a similar complaint with the T.A. a citation could be issued. T.A. can also help you identify which company you rode with AS LONG AS YOU GET THE CAB NUMBER!!!!

And in that vein folks, the T.A. board met on this very topic the other day and in that meeting Gordon Walker, the Administrator himself finally admitted that longhauling was an issue. In the past the T.A. denied it ever being a problem, and in fact fired an officer who was trying to cite drivers for it, but now it appears that they are ready to at least discuss it. A preliminary suggestion was to make a flat rate to and from the airport, something that I think I'm for.

The issue of long-hauling keeps coming up; Sprunt continues the topic: "Speaking about the current "investigation" into the long hauling problems (and this may be more appropriate for a new blog entry as I imagine it could spark some debate),

1) what are your thoughts on the current system (straight meter-drop)?

2) What do you think about a flat rate from Airport to hotel?

3) What do you think about moving to a 'zoned' system?

4) How would you feel if they changed it to a flat-rate destination matrix (point A to B = $X; point A to D = $Y; etc.) with metered or zoned rides outside of said matrix?"


Actually this topic is not something I want to start dedicating blog entries to. This blog has never been about the politics of the business and I doubt it ever will be. Besides there are other guys who are already doing this and undoubtedly doing a better job of tackling the issue than I could. What's impressive is their lack of concern for the potential repercussions of their activism. Most notably is Unk who is always tweeting on this topic @lvtaxidriver and his website has an extensive collection of blog posts, articles and forums that do little else but point out the shortcomings of the TaxiCab Authority. Although I have never met the man, I consider his work the place to go for information about my industry.

You can check that out here:
http://lasvegas-taxidriver.com/

Regarding #1- I have no problems with the current meter system, in and of itself. The current meter system as it pertains to long-hauling could be reevaluated I suppose but the meter system is not the source of this problem. It's important that we understand that. We don't need to change the meter system, we need to enforce existing laws and that's basically it. Anything else is just BS in my opinion.

#2-I like this, but only as a 2nd to meter system+enforce laws. If we concede that no real change will come in terms of enforcement, than I believe a flat rate system could work. But keep in mind the amount of said flat rate becomes crucial and the number they are throwing around ($20) is way more than most any airport to strip ride will cost had you taken the shortest route. A cab to Tropicana from the airport will run you 10 bucks +1.80 if you go direct route, and 20 bucks +1.80 if you take the freeway. This formula changes as the property differs of course but as you can see they are effectively locking in the long-haul rate, which would amount to a gigantic rate increase. Naturally, the owners don't seem to be against this "solution". That said, if this were to become the norm, it could be a great thing for me because I wouldn't have to compete with the crooks anymore and yet still get the benefit of being one.

#3- I think zoned systems are totally lame. Washington D.C used to be on a zone system until about 5 years ago. They are now on a meter system. The changed from the zone to the meter system because, get this, they had a problem with long-hauling in the zone system. Apparently, drivers would always try to scam as to what precise zone they originated and what precise zone they were headed. So the powers that be concluded that going to a meter was the fix and I would bet the farm that they now have a not taking most direct route long-hauling problem.

#4- That's ok I suppose, I bit cumbersome perhaps, but none of this is necessary. All we need to do is place the blame where it belongs and hold those parties accountable.


Jenn wants to know: "You seem to hold your own with people very well in the cab, but has there ever been a time that you were so uncomfortable or annoyed that you couldn't wait for the ride to be over? Or have you ever made someone get out before they had reached their destination?"


The time I almost got robbed (XVIII) has to be the most scared I have been. I think that was was the worst because I had so much time to think about what was going to happen.

There are two other note worthy events that happened eons ago, one that I as of yet I have not shared here. I won't spoil that one; one was a pretty rad guy that a few minutes into the ride decided it would be wise to show me his gun. XXXVI Not because he wanted to do anything with it, other than brag. The other, and crazier, was the time I picked up at the Oasis, some dive hotel on the north strip at 6am and these two guys roll out of the motel in a big fucking hurry loading large black garbage bags, that appeared to be filled with clothes, into the truck. Both of them had blood all over them. The destination they gave was "get us the fuck out of here."

Uncomfortable is a tough one. Uncomfortable is when you load a middle aged couple and the woman sits up front next to you and the man in the back by himself. The man didn't shut the door completely when he got in so you stop and ask him to try it again. He does with a bit too much enthusiasm. Then throughout the entire 10 minutes that they are a part of your life, no one says a word. Complete silence. Uncomfortable is when two people start humping in your backseat. XXXVII

There are quite a few times when I have terminated a ride, for a variety of reasons. I haven't had to do this in while though, now that I think about it. I think maybe I just don't pick up those kind of rides anymore. Learned my lesson I suppose. I believe there are a couple stories about my kicking someone out on this blog but I can't find them right now. I know I posted one about two hot chicks that I kicked out of the I-15 overpass on Flamingo.

Things I find annoying are the elitist, self righteous, arrogant, inconsiderate and closed minded. And valley girls. Get four valley girls in your cab and each of them will be telling a story (usually about themselves) to one of the other three. So each of them are telling a story to a different one of them which of course means that not only do you have four people talking at once, which also results in everyone raising there voices, but that no one is listening to anyone. Now they may try say that they are all in fact listening to each other as they talk to each other but I just don't think that's possible. If it is possible, it's super annoying for innocent bystanders I'm sure.


Bomberman has two questions: "What are some funny/interesting things people have left behind in your cab? & Do you think we ever will see an extension of the monorail to Downtown/McCarran?"

That was weird, this comment/question disappeared for a few days. I read it, and then it was gone lol.

Well some lady gave me two very large wall sculptures 5 years ago. V Although, wherever those pictures I found of them were hosted is no longer there sorry. They are rad though and still hang at my place.

I've found 10 or 15 wallets, a few dozen cell phones, shopping bags a few times, 15 cameras. One time a guy placed his briefcase on the front seat and then closed the door and got in the backseat. I dropped him off at the Paris 10 minutes later, he paid me and got out and walked into the hotel. I couldn't fucking believe it. I parked my cab right where I dropped, much to the chagrin of the valets and ran inside after the guy. I spotted him and was able to get it back to him.

One time I dropped off a younger couple, with momma carrying a baby, off at the Premium Outlets. The three (four) of us had such a great conversation that none of us remembered that we had put their stroller in the trunk. Of course that's my fault, it's my responsibility to make sure passengers have their belongings, but how in the world did THEY forget it? I actually didn't even become aware of the stroller that I was carting around until hours later when I picked up at the airport and as soon as I opened the trunk I felt really really bad. I just kept picturing them having to carry the baby all day. And it wasn't even like they got out and I sped off, I actually got out of the cab and opened the door for the girl with the baby. They tipped me well and I watched them walk away as I got back in the cab. So I turned it into the office at the end of my shift per protocol and a few days later I got a notice that I would be paying for the shipping back to Seattle.

Just the other day I picked up a middle aged guy at the airport, no luggage whatsoever. Always something peculiar when you load at the airport and the people have no bags. I asked the guy what was up and he replied it was a long story. I leaned a bit and he tells me that his wife and him were in Vegas on the first half of their Vegas>Cancun vacation. They reside in Austin and as it were actually weren't even planning on coming to Vegas but they got "such a great deal" that they decided to spend a few days here first. Sweet, sounds like a fun time. Well this was the day, actually, supposed to the be the day that they were to head out to Cancun but somebody forgot the passports in Austin. He said it was his fault so he was charged with fixing the problem. Since no one in Austin had a key to their house, the only solution was to go back and get them. So he pushed back the Cancun flight, which I'm sure wasn't cheap and also purchased a last minute Vegas>Austin>Vegas daily which is a ton probably. It was 10pm when I picked him up and I took him to the Mirage. I wished him well the rest of his journey tomorrow morning. He did not tip me very well if memory serves and I drove off and left the property to go the Rio. I was actually going to the Rio to take a shit, I'll be honest with you, that's why I left Mirage. So I'm almost to Rio, turtle head pokin and I hear a phone ring in the backseat. I couldn't fucking believe it. I knew who it was before I even answered it, "Things just aren't going your way today are they sir?" I said. I should have shit first, I really should have but I turned around and raced back to the guy and gave his phone back to him. Nothing extra for me of course. I ended up parking right there at the Mirage, again pissing off the valet and ran in to shit at the bathrooms right there by Jet. I didn't occur to me until days later that the guy had no luggage whatsoever, not even a carry-on or a handbag, and he still managed to forget something in my cab.


No way the Monorail is going downtown or the airport. The MonoFail, as locals refer to it, is in no financial position to expand. They have corporate sponsorship on all of the trains and they still can't break even. They already have a insurance policy in place to pay for the demo of it if and when it finally goes under. (whether that's a common occurrence with this sort of thing I have no idea)

I make the joke that the MonoFail is overpriced & inconvenient. It's kind of a bad business model if you think about it. I mean, I don't have an MBA or anything but it seems that if you are overpriced, you'd better be pretty fucking convenient. Or if your inconvenient, than you'd better be inexpensive. But the Monofail is neither, or both. On probably 100 occasion a passenger has tried to sell me their unused MonoFail passes. Think about it; first time they buy multiple passes, then after using it one time they realize that they never want to ride it again so they try and ditch the passes. It's that bad. The only time it makes sense to use it, (if it were less expensive) is to and from Bally's & a certain hotel I'm boycotting. Which interestingly enough, was the exact and ONLY thing it was designed for.

Oh but wait, if they'd just expand it to the Airport than EVERYBODY would use it. They'd make a killing Right? Hardly, people don't want to walk to the stations now you think they're going to want to do that with all of their luggage? No fuckin way.


Paboo said: "I've heard cabbies avoid the RIO when the WSOP is in town. Are poker players generally bad tippers?"


Poker players are generally horrible tippers and I have actually said myself that I wasn't going to pick up there anymore during WSOP. I'm kind of puzzled why it is really, you'd think for as often as they come to Vegas they would know by now. So I refuse to believe they aren't aware that they're supposed to be tipping. So if they're aware, and they still don't tip, then it's even worse. It's one thing if you're from China and tipping is not a part of your culture and you didn't, for whatever reason, take the time to educate yourself before you came to Vegas. I wouldn't say you should get a free pass in that situation but the fact that you're ignorant should be taken into consideration. On the other hand, if you're American, and you come to Vegas all the time, and you know damn well what the tipping culture is AND YOU STILL DON'T TIP than that's twice as bad. And let's not forget, the douche wannabe poker player, that thinks he's hot shit, is also trying to represent like he's got a lot of money and that just makes it even worse yet. Don't take my word for it, the dealers will tell you the same thing and even the players themselves admit it.

This brings to mind, I asked resident poker writer/Las Vegas guru, Pauly McGuire this exact question a couple weeks ago on twitter and he said, "Contrary to popular belief, most poker players are not rich; they are broke, cash poor, and in debt to their "backers""

Undoubtedly. One cannot disagree with this but it doesn't take into account that lot's of people are cash poor and they'll still throw a brother a dollar or two. Poker players will go out of their way to give you nothing. Therein lies the mystery.

You guys should check out Pauly's new book "
Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, and the World Series of Poker"

I know all you guys love reading about Vegas so you gotta pick this book up. I highly recommend it.




SchmaddaKid said: Love this blog! I've got a two part question for you. Do you always drive the same vehicle or is it a different car every shift, and who is in charge of upkeep for the car? Oil changes, maintenance, accidents, etc? Keep up the great work!


Thanks!

I drive one of 2 or 3 cabs on a daily basis. Basically I'm assigned one primary vehicle and I'll get that one most of the time and then back ups if that one is not available. This varies amongst drivers and depends greatly on what specific company you work for and your tenure. A brand new driver is going to get one of the oldest cabs in the fleet and it's not uncommon to get shifted around into different cabs often. Once you've been there a while you'll get a newer ride and more stable assignment.

That said, I do not own the car, owner-operators are not allowed in Las Vegas or anywhere in the State I believe, and as such I am not responsible for any of the up-keep. My role is that of an employee. In fact drivers, are not allowed to work on the cars. I presume for insurance purposes. Even if I get a flat tire it won't be my ass out there changing it, which I guess is a good thing.


Blunt Jackson sent an email: "

Ahoy!

I missed your Q-n-A article when it came out, but I've loved reading
your blog. My grandfather and uncle were both cabbies in a somewhat
different era, and I've always been a city boy and much of my car
travel is done by cab. I have a few questions.

1) On the east coast, in cities I'm familiar with, I'll propose a fare
prior to getting in the cab. This way the cabbie doesn't have to turn
the meter on, and I can be sure of not getting long-hauled. Obviously,
this only works if you know a fair fare. But on the West Coast,
cabbies look at me like I'm trying to pull one over on them, and
require the meter. (My flat-rate proposal includes tip, which should
be obvious to a cabbie also familiar with the ride.) What's your take
on that?

2) Here in Seattle, cabs charge you for distance + "wait time" which
includes any time the cab is not moving; ie. red light. I was pretty
sure philly cabs had a switch between driving-mode and waiting-mode,
so that the passenger didn't get penalized for stop-and-go traffic. Do
you know if there are standards here, or if this is something that has
changed over time?

3) I rarely see a natural-born citizens driving cabs any more (as
determined by facility with English). I feel sad that it is no longer
an honorable profession for us. Do you feel like Americans think
driving a cab is somehow no longer respectable work? If so, does that
bug you? If not, do you think I'm reading the public perception wrong?
Maybe it's just Seattle, or is it Las Vegas, also? (Note that I don't
have anything against any non-American cabbies, I just think it's
weird & kind of sad, given my family's past in the cab driving
tradition.)

-Blunt Jackson"


#1. It's called a "flat rate" and what you will find is the varying cities will have different rules and protocols that will determine whether this practice is feasible. Every major city has their own governing body for the Taxi industry and each one is different. In a nutshell however, in a place where a cabbie could own his own cab, or lease on a per diem basis, he may be very open to a flat rate. Conversely, in an environment such as mine where, as I said, I am an employee of a company that owns the car, and who is paid a percentage of the fare, than a driver is going to be very opposed to the idea because, at least in the case of Las Vegas, it's actually illegal altogether. The company who employs drivers will never favor a flat rate system that is determined by the driver because they could never be sure of their share of the take.

#2. If you're asking me about Seattle I don't know, but in Las Vegas there is a distinction between moving around and wait time. Wait time is $30/hr in Vegas and the clock is ticking any time the cab is parked or up, but not exceeding 12mph. 13mph and above it's $2.20/mile. I don't know that it's a penalizing anybody but a fair determination of what the cab is worth. Surely, if you need me to wait for you at the store for a half an hour, I shouldn't be expected to wait there for free. And if we get stuck in traffic we get stuck in traffic. However it should be known that contrary to popular belief, it does not behoove a driver to be stuck in traffic, even if the meter is still running.

#3. I think that people from all over the world, not just Americans, look down upon cab drivers. ...And it doesn't bug me in the slightest. If somebody talks shit about cab drivers in general to me I think it says more about them than it does about me. People lash out at others to conceal their own shortcomings, and the sooner you can accept that, the sooner you can rise above it, and the sooner we can all rise above it the sooner it will cease altogether, for the lashing will no longer achieve the desired effect. This however, is not the reason whites don't drive cabs in my opinion. I think that has more to do with the wages and the working conditions of common cab driving are not on par with what a typical work seeking white man would deem acceptable. Similar with what you see in how the white and latino workforces commingle in the job market.


Daniel lm from sent an email: Thanks for your great blog. I enjoy your posts a lot.

I have a couple of questions:

1. (still with long-hauling): do you have a website you could recommend that outlines the construction happening around LV? I asked a taxi driver once to take Koval/Paradise from the airport, and he insisted there was heavy construction. However, there was no construction at the time. But I know there is construction at various times during the week. It would be good to be able to check a website before our LV trip to see the construction schedule.

2. Restaurant Recommendations: Can you give us some good places to eat? Like something we would see on Diners Drive ins and Dives (Food Network - if you watch that show). Something off the beaten track that may be walking distance or a short cab ride away from the Strip. Nothing too expensive.

Thanks again - and keep up the good work.

Daniel



Thanks.

#1. Well I could, and will give you a website but I'll tell you right now that you don't need it. Any time a driver starts talking shit about construction there is about a 90% chance that he's full of shit. Especially if we're talking about airport rides. Most of the major road closures happen after midnight, and this day and age there is much development going on. That said, any time there is to be a road closure the contractor must inform the DOT of the closure and that information is public and can be found here:

N-DOT

That may be hard to sift through, especially if you don't know the area, but if a road is to be closed it'll be on that list. There may be better and more efficient websites for this sort of thing but I don't know about them.

#2. I'll give you few of um that fit that bill. All of which are favorites of mine.

The first is the Firefly which is inside the Plaza Downtown on Fremont St. It's a tapas place that is out of this world awesome in so many ways. 4 people can eat like kings for 100 bucks. I would suggest the Chicken & Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms and the Bacon Wrapped Dates. Insanely good.

Try Lotus of Siam which is located inside Commercial Center. Some call it the "best Thai food in the country". I would recommend everything.

Try the Four Kegs. Gotta get the Stromboli here no doubt. Speaking of, this place actually was on Diners, Drive-ins and dives! (this one used to be close but they moved, it's about $25 cab ride (tops) each way from the center strip. That said all of places I've mentioned are closer than this.

Ferraro's Italian right across the street from the Hard Rock. A Vegas favorite for years just got a better location.

Honorable mentions go to The Peppermill (best place for late night or breakfast next door to Riviera on the Strip) and Hash House a Go GO (great lunch or breakfast) inside IP.


Heater wants to know: "In terms of international visitors to Vegas, who would you say are the best/worst tippers? Accordingly, who are the most savvy, and who are the most gullible? It's okay to generalize sometimes!"

Yeah I agree, somebody smarter than me said on the radio one time, "There is no such thing as racial profiling, there is only profiling".

The best is easy, the Japanese. They are the best in my mind because they are proactive in their efforts. Tipping is not a part of Japanese culture but they understand that it is a part of ours and they consider it disrespectful, not only to the places they visit but more so to themselves, to not try and adapt to the place they are visiting. And this works both ways too, believe me, if you went to Japan and walked into someone's home you would be taking your shoes off I promise you. They'd expect certain behaviors from you, so they act like they want you to act. The Japanese will not tip you huge, but you can count on their 15%. Oftentimes the Japanese will, let's say the fare is ten bucks, they will hand you a ten and then they will hand you two more. Two distinct actions indicate their understanding that it's different than they owed amount and adaption to the practice. I remember I had a group of Japanese ladies in the cab one time and we were talking about this, and that actually was who told me what I said above about respect, and I made a mention of "When in Rome" and they didn't know what that meant and had never heard that before. I'm sure they have their own saying for such behavior but I explained that in their time, when you were in Rome, you did as the Romans did and from that came the saying. They loved that.

Pretty much all other international visitors are horrible tippers. Maybe the Island nations because of their tourism connection but in reality I can't think of one other group of foreigners that I would consider good tippers. In fact, most of them are ridiculously bad it it. In my mind Canadians and Mexicans are right at the top of that list simply for the same reason the poker players are, BECAUSE THEY KNOW, AND THEY STILL DON'T TIP. To me this makes it 100X worse. If you're American and you go to Canada and go out to dinner and the staff knows you're American believe me they are gonna fight to be your server. They know that you are going to tip them so they want you. And yet, when those same servers come to Vegas for a holiday, they don't fucking tip. Say nothing and the Mexicans will give you nothing, however to their credit, if you tell them to tip you they usually will. They kind of tip in Mexico but it's different, most everything is a flat rate there, in all forms of barter, and it's assumed that they seller is going to pad a little extra for himself. Most Mexicans, even though they can clearly see what the meter reads, will still ask you how much the cab ride is. If it's a ten buck ride and you say it's 12 dollars I promise you they will hand you twelve dollars. So you just pad a little for yourself and they will comply. Interestingly, this practice is against the Law in Vegas so in dealing on a level that your customers are accustomed you could receive a citation.

Most all other places are horrible too, Europe is awful with possibly the exception of England. I explained a bit about that before. And that's been demonstrated by the Brit that posed the Japanese-esq fashioned question previously. Cheers to you again sir! Asia is horrible at tipping as a whole with the only exception being Japan. The Middle Easterners are no good at it either.

As far as most gullible...I think I would have to say the Brits and maybe the Aussies actually. It pains me to say so, because I really love the British, I have said that in these pages before. They are some of the most fun loving group of people on the planet and you can never get them down. Unless of course, their futball club is losing. It is literally impossible to offend a Brit and I absolutely love that. Nobody takes themselves seriously. Plus they're hilarious. But their problem, in this day in and age, is that they are to trust worthy. It's like they are convinced that everything is jolly and nobody could ever be out to get them. Remember the guy on the bike getting hit by Clark W Griswald in National Lampoons European Vacation? It's like, the guy on the bike get's hit by a car and he's apologizing. A hilarious scene but only so because there is truth in it. I've heard some horror stories involving Brits and their Aussie cousins getting forked by hookers.

I'm going to end on hookers.


Anonymous wants to know: Can you explain the guys on the corners with the cards of the nudie chicks, how did that come to be? Are they actual hookers? Are the women on the card actually the women who would show up if you called? Do the guys on the corner actually get paid for that? In general, tell us all about the "oldest profession" Vegas-style!

We ended on hookers, and now we're back. But man you guys were starting to worry me, we were 30 some questions in and no one had asked about hookers yet. Anonymous thank you for restoring my faith.

They are called handbillers I believe. All of them are Latino and I haven't a clue as to their immigration status. A lot of people ask how are they able to that? How can that not be illegal? Well first of all prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas/Clark County, however everyone pretty much operates under the assumption that it is. So naturally you couldn't hand out cards that talked about sex for money. However you can talk about dancing, girl shows, and escorting. You put a picture of a naked pretty girl on the card and as long as you cover up the nipples and the privates with stars you're good to go. So these are legal businesses. It's perfectly legal for a group of guys, or one guy, to hire a girl for a bachelor party type show, or a private show and of course we all know what happens when the girl gets to the room, but that's not what they're advertising. If you're a presumed legal business, on a public walkway, you have every right to promote. This is a first amendment thing. And you can't get them on littering either because it's not them that's dropping them.

One proposed solution was to allow the casinos to purchase that sidewalk land from the City and it could be perceived as a public walkway but it would on private property, at which point they could prohibit such practices. This is shaky ground legally and I know there was a big case here locally that dealt with this issue on Fremont St. It's a unique situation down there. It's private property now, but it's fashioned, and basically assumed, that it's a public area just like it always was. There was even an interesting ruling on the topic in Las Vegas here recently. (although I can't name the case. Perhaps a reader will recall what I'm talking about?) Ultimately, I think this isn't happnening moreso due to liabiltiy concernes from the hotel's perspective not the potential legal ramifications such a relationship could create on a larger spectrum. Regardless, don't expect this activity to cease any time soon.

"Are the women on the card actually the women who would show up if you called?"

C'mon man seriously?


"Do the guys on the corner actually get paid for that?"

Well I'm sure they do. I don't how or how much. I had the idea for Halloween of going as a Mexican Handbiller. I could get the neon shirt and matching hat. A bookbag and tons of those cards would be easy. That'd be a great Vegas costume.


In general, there are many ways to get laid in sin city, however they are more ways to get fucked. Someone who was cool to the game, and did his homework, could have a great experience with a great girl for a decent price. But most do not and most get hosed. I have eluded on twitter many times about how hookers get one over on johns. One needs to be very very careful as most of these girls prey on tourist who don't know what they are doing.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why are Cabs yellow?

OK... OK... OK...

How stupid is Wynn for the $20 daily resort fee?

Bushman said...

As a fllow up to the previous poster, those of us who are regular Vegs visitors are aware of the stupid resort fees, but is the average customer aware they're being ripped off? I can't imagine many travel agents are warning people about the fees when they book their trips...

Anonymous said...

Why are you 86'd from The Venetian?

Anonymous said...

Where is best place to stay if you are a girl alone who wants to go sightseeing? I was told never to go alone to Vegas but I want to anyway. A place that is not crazy expensive. thanks.

Notorono said...

Top stuff, as a Brit hailing from a service culture devoid of tipping what is the etiquette for Las Vegas cabs ??

Matt said...

I come to Vegas every now and again for the day for work. If I wanted to ride in YOUR cab to swap stories, is that even possible - or do I take my chances in line at the airport as per usual?

(Follow up question, what are the ODDS that I would randomly get you as my cabbie?!)

Anonymous said...

So cabbie - all the blogs that I used to read have basically gone dormant, leaving me with few outlets for fucking off and procrastinating on real work...so my question is: what active blogs are you currently reading? hook a brutha up!

and oh yah, phish is on fire so far this tour, eh? ta-dow!

Anonymous said...

To follow up on notorono's question, are you paid a small hourly salary like a waiter or is your only income from driving and tips? Could you survive without tips?

Not that I'm planning on stiffing any cabbie - I'm just curious about how important tipping is.

MrFunkMD said...

All questions posted up to here have been answered.

Anybody else?

Anonymous said...

Been a follower for years.

3 Q's for you.

Whats your biggest ever fare, biggest ever tip and your favourite route or area to drive around

Keep up the good work!

Matt said...

Has there ever been a time when someone didn't tip you but they actually had a good reason for it?

Anonymous said...

Hey, love reading your blog. I know you mentioned long hauling. If I were to take a cab from the airport to the MGM (I know I know, not your favorite place but they had cheap rates) how can I ask the cabbie not to long haul without insulting the driver. I don't want them to accuse them of intentionally scamming me, but I also don't want to be scammed at the same time. What do you think?

carl said...

2 votes for anonymous@1208pm. I got long hauled to the Palazzo from the airport on my last trip. I wasn't paying attention right away, and we were on the freeway before I noticed it.

If there's a secret code that won't offend the 95% of honest drivers, but will discourage the other 5% from long hauling, I'd love to hear about it.

Tarpie said...

I arrived last Thursday night. As we started to veer off to the I-215/I-15 signs I just said "No highway please." This actually pissed the driver off and he lied under his breath about traffic. Of course it was real smooth sailing to the Flamingo. I have a 100% track record on being long-hauled/attempted long-haul to the IP to Flamingo stretch of the strip. Very depressing. As you get up towards the Palazzo, taking the highway starts to make more sense...not sure where the cutoff line is for surface versus highway being the quickest/cheapest.

I think a polite way of saying "please don't screw me" is to say "no highway please" when you get in the cab.

M. Ortgage said...

This all you have done a great job that any one can ask any question and you will definitely reply to them.

SPRUNT said...

Going back to the Wynn resort fee thing, since you are somewhat of an ambassador for Las Vegas (you can be the first person people really interact with when arriving to town), when people want to go to the Wynn/Encore have you started asking them if they are aware of the $20 resort fee? Even when picking people up or dropping them off from/to the WynnCore properties who may already be staying there, are they aware of the fee? Is it disclosed to them at check-in or only at checkout?

Maybe you could do an unofficial survey as you go about your work days and see where guests are regarding the fee. I am extremely curious as to where the guests stand on it? Informed or uninformed. Also curious if any of the uninformed you tell would decide to switch hotels.

Depending on how that goes, maybe asking/informing passengers for other resort fee properties may not be a bad idea and may possibly increase your tips. Work something out with non-resort fee properties where if a guests switches from someplace else to them based on your information, you get a kickback.

I know if my driver informed me about the resort fee on the way to the Luxor, I would have considered finding a different hotel. At the very least I would have been informed about it instead of finding out at 5am.

The Fatman said...

To Anonymous asking about what blogs to read, check out www.vegasrex.com (he does most of his writing for CasinoGuide.com but tends to link to those stories from the VegasRex site.)

If you really want to spend your workday "fucking off and procrastinating on real work", head to the VegasRex forums. They can be pretty active during the day. There is a paid forum where much of the conversations happen (and less trolls to deal with), but it's not much and goes to support the site.

Kristin said...

Awww, thanks for the shout out, Andy :)

Guess that means I should get back on track with blogging on there. Poop and Boogers are fascinating topics ;)

MrFunkMD said...

Sprunt-I appreciate you tenacity, but most of your ideas aren't really practical.

It's funny, if people ask me for a recommendation they will listen intently. If however, I force an opinion on them then I will undoubtedly come off as the whacko cab driver with an agenda.

Think about it, I just picked up a couple at the port and on the way to the Wynn I go on a lengthy diatribe about the Wynn and resort fees and the like. Regardless if I'm just trying to inform them, or if I'm actually trying to convince them to change hotels, they are not going to take it like you mean it. They are just going to think I have something against he Wynn. And I promise you nobody is changing their reservation 5 min after they get here because of something they hear from me.

Besides- I don't really feel it's my place to do stuff like that. And I'm not interested in steering all of my conversations in this direction anyway.

If however, a passenger brings it up, believe me I will grill them on it.

And if you say that I should be doing more to help people know about this, I would say that in the 5 or ten minutes that I have them, I'd be better suited to warn them about greater concerns than resort fees, if at all.

That said, if I stumble upon any updates in this regard I will report back.

ltndncr said...

First off, I love reading your blog. It's always amusing & I especially appreciate how honest you are. However, when I read your comment on the Q&A re: tipping I felt the need to call you on it.

I agree tipping 10-15% has become customary in North America and I do follow your logic of "more for better service, less for bad service and none if they long haul you". With that said, your logic of never tip a cabbie less than $10 is total BS!

Everyone knows initially tipping was reserved for excellent service or for someone who went above and beyond their job. The fact that tipping is now expected to be given for someone who does nothing BUT their job ridiculous. For you to think that you should not only be paid your wage, plus be given a 10-15% tip (despite average service) AND THEN be compensated ON TOP OF THAT is unbelievable.

You're being paid for your job. (For those who complain about the wage, it is your choice to work for the wage you do). There is no reason for a smaller bill to require an extra tip. While you may make a larger tip with a longer cab ride or a larger group at a restaurant, a small ride or group aren't "putting you out". The larger groups generally mean more hassle. A group with multiple destinations would also equal more effort. In both cases I would tip more. A short ride which is simple doesn't equal more effort on your part, so what's the additional tip for? Because you picked me up who is hassle-free, while you could have found a group that was much more work? So you're expecting me to compensate you for what you COULD have gotten? The point is you didn't get them, you got me, the short hassle-free ride.

The company has set a minimum starting amount to cover the cost of a short ride so they don't lose money. If that amount really ISN'T adequate then I'm in full support of cabbies lobbying the company to have that minimum starting amount increased.

MrFunkMD said...

Thank you ltndncr, I appreciate your concern but I think if you re-read what I wrote (or perhaps if I had done a better job of explaining myself) you would see that you misinterpreted what I said.

What I said was, "That said, I have always said that you should never give your cabbie less than $10."

And what I mean is TOTAL ,which I went on to explain. I can see how you took that to mean that you should never TIP less than $10, and that was compounded perhaps by my comment at the end of that segment where I told the Brit if he tipped me $10 I would support his futball club.

I may edit that to make that more concise.

That said, I don't make a "wage" as you put it. I get a percentage of the meter and my tips. So considering my "wage" is a portion of your fare, you getting in my cab and going from Mirage across the street to the Venetian, because you're too lazy to walk has a significant negative impact on my "wage". Particularly with how slow business is this days. If I waited an hour to get a ride going across the street for $4, and you think you can give me $4.50 total and call yourself a good tipper in the process?

I don't think so.

If you want to continue with restaurant analogues, this is equivalent to ordering one cup of coffee and occupying a table for three hours while you read the newspaper. Your tab is $1.50 for the coffee and your steadfast 15%'er leaves .25 for the waiter? Yes, technically you did what you were supposed to do, but I'll be damned if I'll let you call yourself a good tipper as a result of that.

Regardless if you agree with that, it is clear that the Brit asked the question because he is concerned about taking part in the American tipping culture properly and I commend him for thinking ahead and practicing "when in Rome."

I believe I did a decent job of telling him what is expected, 15%, and also an exception to that rule that he should consider if and when it applies e.g. very short rides.

carl said...

I agree with your take on long hauling. At least if we're talking about airport to strip hotels, it's not much money. After I withheld the tip, I only paid a dollar or 2 more, total. Since most of it would have been tip money, the driver definitely ended up with less.

I think it's one of those issues that's more about "getting cheated" than about how much you got cheated for.

Champ said...

Great blog! Good segment.

Question: I have a buddy that usually arranges a complimentary limo when we arrive in town. Provided by the MGM resorts.

"It's free" as far as we are concerned...but I'll tip usually $20 or more coming or going to the airport. How do these guys get compensated? And am I tipping a good amount? Too little or too much?

It's funny cause I would think $20 is fair, but I get deflated looks more often than not. While my buddy gets this as a comp, we are not ballers, so maybe the drivers are used to the big wigs with a fresh wad tipping fatty?

Henna said...

i think you are right, its better to complain rather than get harrassed by the foul talking taxi driver, instead of talking uselessly to them, why not just complain and get rid of it. being nice is no good if the other person is as bad!!

MrFunkMD said...

Everything up to here has been addressed. Feel free to keep them coming if you got um...

Anonymous said...

With the question about the Limo..

A Sedan service from the airport to the NW side of town (Summerlin area), is about $50 with a 15% tip. Tipping $20 just for a strip ride is more than generious.

I take the Sedan service whenever I have red-eye flights, and my parents take it whenever they visit. So I've got that price down pat.

SPRUNT said...

Speaking about the current "investigation" into the long hauling problems (and this may be more appropriate for a new blog entry as I imagine it could spark some debate),

1) what are your thoughts on the current system (straight meter-drop)?

2) What do you think about a flat rate from Airport to hotel?

3) What do you think about moving to a 'zoned' system?

4) How would you feel if they changed it to a flat-rate destination matrix (point A to B = $X; point A to D = $Y; etc.) with metered or zoned rides outside of said matrix?

ExposedSEO said...

the pool at the trop never closes. think it's the only one on the strip that's always open. they can't lock it down because of the layout, it's not in a gated area but surrounded by the building instead.

Jenn said...

You seem to hold your own with people very well in the cab, but has there ever been a time that you were so uncomfortable or annoyed that you couldn't wait for the ride to be over? Or have you ever made someone get out before they had reached their destination?

Jenn said...

I also agree with what you say, about tipping on a small fare.. even more so if you have been sitting for a while. A lot of companies here have a minimum from the airport or in the downtown area.

Bomberman said...

What are some funny/interesting things people have left behind in your cab?

Do you think we ever will se an extension of the monorail to Downtown/McCarran?

Paboo said...

I've heard cabbies avoid the RIO when the WSOP is in town. Are poker players generally bad tippers?

SchmaddaKid said...

Love this blog! I've got a two parter for you. Do you always drive the same vehicle or is it a different car every shift? And who is in charge of upkeep for the car? Oil changes, maintenance, accidents, etc?

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Can you explain the guys on the corners with the cards of the nudie chicks, how did that come to be? Are they actual hookers? Are the women on the card actually the women who would show up if you called? Do the guys on the corner actually get paid for that? In general, tell us all about the "oldest profession" Vegas-style!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my "hooker" questions! Side note (and perhaps why I thought the ladies on the cards were real!): I'm a chick! lol... just curious!My husband and I went to Vegas for the first time this year (what an odd place the Strip is!) and we were facinated by the "handbillers". Thanks for the insight on that.
Your blog rocks and I love reading it.
--Janine

Anonymous said...

What's the best place for a rookie cabdriver to start out?

Willrr said...

Hey Funk,
Love your blog, I find it both wildly entertaining and insightful far beyond the scope of the actual events.
The one thing that I take issue with is the poker player remark, is that really true in your experience? I play professionally now, (well kind of going to school but mostly playing), and I've been called a sucker at my tendency to overtip pretty much everyone in vegas and many of my good friends who play full time are the same. Is the stingy poker player stereotype changing with the younger generations I guess is my question? I'm coming back out to vegas in 3 weeks, I would love to get your number and take a ride with The Cabbie, keep it up.

Krista said...

Hi Andrew, I have spent my whole work day reading your blog and have been laughing out loud half the time. Just wanted to note that my fiance & I are from Canada & we tip minimum of $5 to the cabbie whether or not we get good service. So not ALL us Canadians are stingy!