Five Scams to Avoid
Scams have the potential of ruining any holiday and it doesn’t matter where you go from Western Europe to a remote paradise there is always someone willing to take advantage of the ignorance of the tourist and profit.
Often it is the taxi driver, today’s equivalent to the tax collectors in Roman Israel. But there is no reason to be a sitting duck. In fact many can be avoided. These are scams or potential scams that I have actually came across. There are many more.
1. Street Money changers
This should be obvious yet people continually fall for it…
Someone on the street approaches the tourist often asking “where are you from?”.
This is to gain information for their pitch..
They will then offer either the local currency or Dollars or Euros etc and a supposed good rate on the street.
In many countries this is actually illegal. Also you leave yourself the chance of being shortchanged with expired old currency, the wrong currency or the like and you are unlikely to see the guy again.
Observed:Bulgaria. Happens in many countries
2. Unofficial Rip off Taxis.
Be careful be very careful at Bangkok’s airport, only use the official taxis. The problem is that the information staff are not so helpful and despite dangerous incidents of robberies rouge taxi drivers all congregate in the hall and outside before you get to the official taxis. It makes one wonder whether there really is any will to clamp down on it. I haven’t been back in Thailand for years so it could have changed but the scam is something to look out for.
Well I nearly fell for it. The danger with rouge taxis are they are unlicensed . can take you anywhere and your are at a higher risk of robbery if not worse.
I almost fell for this going to where I was directed I was met by one of these unlicensed licensed looking drivers. before getting into the taxi through I saw along the platform the official taxi stand and simply walked away ignoring the unlicensed driver and to the licensed taxi.
In Poland scam drivers often just have taxi above their cars and no number. Avoid unless you just won the lottery and willing to through money down the drain. Generally if you can avoid taxis near train stations.
3. Refusal to use Meters.
You can come across taxi drivers who reluctant to use meters and even refuse. Refuse there services if you have even the smallest form of doubt. Often you won’t be benefiting at all.
It plays on ignorance of you not knowing the price and even if you agree on a price before hand the taxi driver can try to claim it was your misunderstanding.
In Thailand some taxis quoted ridiculous prices and I and an Australian pair (Mother and son) refused to pay charges of perhaps 5x more despite the heat. It took a while to find an honest driver and the help of local. Don’t pay money to parasites. You will find someone more reasonable. In Vietnam I just opened the door ready to get out if a driver tried to not switch on the meter. He always switched it on.
Of course your meter can be tampered or crooked or as I experienced in Beijing in 2000 partially covered. make sure you know the going rate per k/m before going.
Armenian taxi drivers can be great to observe (unless you by chance get an honest driver), crossing themselves at the site of church it s probably in preparation for the confession they will make after charging you a big multiple of the price! And there is the case where a hotel staff (other staff were more honest) and the driver were in league.. yes shameful but taxi drivers don’t have shame).
Visually inspect any driver number, pass or anything in display so the driver can see and don’t give too big a note. Taxi drivers never have change.
Oh in Romania one taxi driver didn’t use a meter and it was probably for mutual benefit (i.e. taxi purposes . The rate was considerably lower than my hotels observation).
Check your map.
Observed:Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Armenia -(unofficial tourist prices), China (covered meters).
4. Taxi hawkers
Taxi drivers will try to scare you. Read my Bucharest experience.
You will find you are obviously in a war zone, a dangerous no go area and you are going to need that taxi.
If you are not in Phnom Penh and have one your research before hand ignore, They are rarely up to any good.
5. Luggage Packers
In Ukraine the luggage price was in Cyrillic on the the wall. However the staff at Donetsk Airport wanted to charge 30 Euros for something that was considerable cheaper by a number of factors (the amount now escapes me). Needless to say I wasn’t going to be foolish and did not get my luggage sealed wrap and also pay his personal tax at the same time.
Problem is wrapping your luggage is a good idea.. Especially when mine arrived in Donetsk split.. just be observant and don’t note to the pockets of greedy dishonest staff.
Observed:In Ukraine (Donetsk)
Honest taxi drivers do exist..really… For example, I experienced two in Armenia.. out of many..
To enjoy your holiday though relax.. when approached by a girl in Moldova (for a photo) I initially wondered if it would be the scam where two girls approach asking the guy to a bar where he then orders unwittingly super expensive drinks and the bouncer appears to make he hasn’t forgotten his credit card details.
The approach was innocent and I have another kind friend..
Article by Aaron Barwell: Author of Around the World Photos site: Travel Emissary. Image of money changer is not copyright of Travel Emissary. From Wikicommons used under license