Funny auto interactions

I’ve been taking autos enough now that I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable with the whole dickering process, and I no longer take it personally when an auto driver says he won’t take me. Recently though I had two experiences that were actually fun, and kind of funny when negotiating with an auto.

I assume we all know how auto drivers never seem to be able to make change for larger bills. Despite the fact that every fare is paying in 10s and 20s, if you want change for a 100 or even a 50 they never seem to have it. Well this time I was coming home, and the meter fare would have been under 20. When I got in I didn’t say anything and he didn’t start the meter (this is a pretty common occurance for me now days when I know what the fare should be.) We go to my place and I gave him 20 rupees. “30 rupees boss.” “Sorry, all I have is 20 and 100.” So the auto driver accepted 20, since apparently his unwillingness to admit he could make change outweighed his desire to dicker for an additional few rupees.

Second story happened last night. Wanted to go from Infantry Road to Bangalore Central. I’d normally pay 20, sometimes 30, I’m bargaining with the guy and he says “40” I say “no no, too much, 30” this goes back and forth for a little while till finally I think he says “30” and he motions to get in. I get in and say “ok, 30” he cracks up and I realize that he really said “40” and motioned to get in and I mis-heard him but he thinks I’m scamming him and thinks it’s funny. Anyway when we get there I give him 30, then dig out a 5 and say “we’ll split the difference.” He laughs with delight and says thanks.

I’m going to have to remember both of those ploys though. I think they’ll come in handy. Do other people have funny “turn the tables” on auto driver stories? I’m sure we all have lots of unhappy auto stories, but what about funny stories with happy endings?

9 Comments so far

  1. Chitra (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 10:12 am

    That was a fun write-up! I pretty much have good happy ending auto-stories. I am not happy about their cheating meters, however I never put them on the defensive and just matter-of-factly say that their meter is faulty, whenever I do know what the exact meter reading should be. Mostly, this works. Now, I don’t know if it is because I am a woman speaking in Kannada/Tamil as the need may be, or that I am not really angry at him. I very calmly only dish out the exact rate, and very often this works. I also deeply appreciate those whose meters do in fact read correct. Those that get to hear this are happy and almost thrilled. Makes my day and his. :)

  2. Naveen (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:11 am

    I think you should never negotiate with the auto drivers about the fares. Tell them to accept whatever the meter says. And it works most of the time, unless you want to go beyond city limits past 9 pm. For example, Infantry Road to B’lore Central is not more than 2.5 kms from the farthest point on Infantry Road…so max 18-20 bucks if you go by the meter even if it is doctored:)
    The best way to not get duped by the auto drivers is by researching the route you want him to take, which is not difficult to find, coutesy google earth and wikimapia. I’ve actually seen the drivers giving me some respect whenever I tell them the exact route to take. And if its a longish route, I also tell them the approx. cost beyond which I won’t pay. That I know Kannada is an added bonus.

  3. Ravi (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 11:14 am

    Happy to hear your tale(s). My point of view is this – if we can afford to go by autos, we can afford to give a buck or two extra, even 5 – its a tough business, plying autos, believe me. More so since there are an estimated 125000 autos on Bangalore roads. By and large, auto drivers here are honest and meter fares are accurate. I know this since I use autos for my office work and I always take different autos to & fro.
    BTW, the ‘unhappy’ tales that you refer too won’t hold a dime if only you experience arrogant & unreasonable auto drivers in Chennai.

  4. Kiran (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:08 pm


    I think it is time, we the people start insisting on proper Meter fares everytime we board an auto, and make sure that we give exact amount. This also makes up to carry with us enough change for it.

    We have to do this exercise, anyways, in the long run this is what, as an bengalurian should follow. If we continue bargaining and other stuff, we wont see an end to it.

    So lets start on insisting proper meter fares. This really needs a collective effort. If not care to take busses, as i did many times when i got really pissed off with some of them in the City Railway station and Bus station. I had some horrifying experiences with auto people even though i am a kannadiga look like an some what North Indian.


  5. Charles Haynes (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    I’d really rather this didn’t turn into yet another endless thread of how to “fix” things with autos in Bangalore. We have plenty of those already. But if you have a funny or fun or happy auto story I’d love to hear it here. Please – no cribbing, no suggestions on fixes, just funny auto stories please.

  6. Kishor (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

    By and large, auto drivers here are honest and meter fares are accurate

    Ravi: You are talking like CM of Karnataka :)

    999 out of 1000 Bangaloreans will not agree with your statement…am sure!

  7. Mytri (unregistered) on May 3rd, 2007 @ 6:28 pm

    You guys want to come over to Mysore?? And check out the autos ;-)?

  8. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on May 4th, 2007 @ 12:09 am

    I enjoyed that post…and I can share the story of the auto I took from home to the station, when the meter showed an amount considerably in excess of the usual fare…when I asked the auto driver, he smiled cheekily and said, “Healthy meter, amma! It also runs fast!” I laughed…but paid him only what was the usual fare, and he didn’t mind that at all. It is a kind of “let me see if I can make a little extra!” game….not always nice, but sometimes you can’t help laughing.

  9. Kiran (unregistered) on May 4th, 2007 @ 2:57 pm


    I had enough of horrible experiences in Bangalore regarding these autos. I am depicting two of many, unfortunate experiences.

    This was around 2005, at around 9 PM from city railway station to Jayanagar 9th Block. I was lazy to take a bus, so decided to take a pre-paid auto. They gave me a pre-paid receipt. I boarded the auto and was just entering the main road, the auto driver told me that, it would take 1 and half times of what pre-paid receipt specified. I immediately stopped him and went straight to the police man who was standing there to report it. He became so furious that he slapped him right infront of me and made me board an different auto as i refused to take the one.

    Second one was also in 2005, i was newly married, i was comming from yeshwantpur railway station at around 11 in the night, so i agreed for twice the amount, cannot help you see late night with my wife. When i reached jayanagar 9th block the fare on the meter showed 300+ Rs, that would make me pay around 600+ for a bare 18 Km ride. I was taken aback for a moment. Camly I handed him 200 Rs and walked inside my home. He was yelling at me for sometime may 10 mins but my neighbours rescued me.

    Although i am not in india from 1 and half yrs, these two incidents really changed my mind to move out of bangalore. Even though i am a kannadiga by birth, and would return to my safe lands in bangalore sometime soon. These two bitter incidents will never fade, i hope the new bangalore is more better, i will evaluate once i come back home.

    No sweat, but experiences from past…


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