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Have you been Scammed while traveling in Europe? Share your stories.

Have you been Scammed while traveling in Europe? Share your stories.

Apr 1st, 2009, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 854
It was on a Sunday and it was "attached" to a bank--on the outside of it. In fact, during my initial panic stage, I checked to see how to get back in touch with the bank (operating hours, phone numbers etc ), but then the card reappeared with my money. Honestly-I did not see anything amiss or attached and I was on alert after the delay. I'm still shaken but have moved on--just hate to see the crooks get away with it and while my bank covered it all, I'm sure we all "pay" for it.
macanimals is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 03:05 PM
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It sounds like you did everything right, unfortunately there are just criminals everywhere.

I try my best to get money from ATMs inside banks, during banking hours - not so much about worrying being scammed, but just in case my ATM gets "eaten" and I can get help immediately. Of course, things don't always work out the way I wish, and I often find myself getting money out of ATMs on weekends and at nights. Fortunately, I haven't run into any problems (yet).
yk is online now  
Apr 1st, 2009, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
two restaurant bill scams

One in Italy. I had an idea of what the bill should have been, so when it came and was thousands ( or tens of thousands)of lira more ( I don't remember the exchange rate), I asked them to review it. This was our last evening, after several days of dining out, and we had not ordered much as we weren't hungry.

They came back smiling and said it was fine. All the dishes on it were correct.

No numbers had changed. But it was our very most expensive dinner so far. So I held it and checked the dishes and their prices.. and yes, they seemed right. But not content, I then added it up by hand .. and there was the deliberate mistake.

I then asked the owner?/receptionist "who added up the bill'?". as they certainly are not good at math. And "wasn't she surprised at the huge amount for the few dishes we had ordered?"

My husband and travel friends would have just put the credit card on the little tray, signed and walked out and on top of it thanked them for the lovely meal. We never would have wondered why they were grinning ear to ear.

Similar situation 25 years ago up at a ski area in northern Spain. There were 23 of us including children. Lots of wine. Lots of plates of food, but I had a good idea of what the bill should have been.

When it came, someone else looked at it and divided it up between families, but I realized our share was WAY over what it should have been. So I quietly got the bill from the other end of the table after they paid, and reviewed it.

At first glance it seemed normal. About the right number of bottles of wine.. desserts, main courses.. so then I started adding it up by hand.. and the very first item was "bread".

Well, in those days "bread " in Spain was let's say 50 pesetas. 50 x 23 was 1,150 pts.

They just added a ZERO and charged us 11,500 pts for BREAD, which was equivalent to perhaps 10 plates of lamb chops or something.

I said nothing to the guests and went downstairs to the till to speak to the manager/owner/server.

When I showed it to her and asked HOW she could make that type of mistake?.. she opened the till and THREW the extra money at me! I was furious and insulted.

So I made an announcement there, a Saturday night, to a very full restaurant of happy vacation diners that everyone had better really check their bills because we had just been charged 11,500 pesetas for bread, and the owner had not even apologized.

By this time our friends were in the street waiting, unaware of what I was doing or where I was ( the till was near the kitchen not visible). I proceeded to hand each couple 2,000 pesetas and told them WHY.. and watched their jaws drop!

I have lots more but won't bore you on this post!
lincasanova is offline  
Apr 1st, 2009, 04:02 PM
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lincasanova - good for you! My husband is sort of the same way - he just pays the bill without reviewing it. Thank goodness he married me, as like you, I have a good idea of how much the bill should be, and I always review the bill even if we're going out with friends. Fortunately, 99% of the time, the mistakes I caught were genuine mistakes/errors rather than deliberate scams!
yk is online now  
Apr 1st, 2009, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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That ski trip one was very interesting as these people could not believe I had caught the mistake. I told them I couldn't believe they didn't think the price was outrageous for what we had had.

Oh. Another interesting situation that I am pretty sure was deliberate, because it is hard for me to believe this Canadian didn't know how to exchange money from US dollars at his B+B.

The room is $90 Canadian. a night. (exchange rate then was $100 US/$130 CDN.)

Two nights. $180CDN.

We give him $200US. He gives us back $20CDN.

So I teach this guy now that he still owes me $60CDN and why.
It was like teaching a 5 yr old how to count change.

And this was at the END of Expo. Can you imagine the rip off the entire summer? And you didn't expect it at all, as this was a really, really fabulous temporary B+B for Expo.

A woman tending a bakery in Chinchón where LOTS of tourists also go to buy cookies adds up my purchases and counts change out loud INcorrectly giving me back the WRONG change and quickly moves on to the next person. I say "no-no" without putting the change away.

I make her re-do the whole thing with me, and she then pulls out the missing change. "Ahhhh, sí"., she says.

(another public announcement to the ones waiting, in English, French and Spanish). Boy did I get a dirty look from that old crow.
lincasanova is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 03:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 8
Spanish Scams, in restuarants many times the bills err on the side of the owner, always chesk your bill as it is "normal" to overcharge the tourist.Also, check your change in shops also no matter how many smiles you get.

If anyone approaches you in the airport parking saying they need money for petrol do not open your bag. When returning your rental car bag snatchers are all over the place.Mine was taken from inside the car in the Sixt garage.They worked like a couple trying to rent a car and then they snatched it from under our noses!!
Gypsies giving you flowers rob you the minute you open your purse.
marypat1 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:40 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 518
While in Paris my husband and I were roaming at the end of a very busy day (not sure what neighborhood we were in, not far from the Louvre) and a woman ran from behind us and insisted my husband dropped his wedding ring. When I saw her I remembered the warning from a Fodorite, clued my husband in and we ignored her! She was a persistant woman though! She did not give up easily....."...I give you this ring...is very lucky....it will bring you luck", etc.

Thanks Fodors!!!!
309pbg is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
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^^ I don't get it, what is the ring scam? Do they ask for money afterwards if you accept it? People tried to pull this scam on us in Paris no less than 4 times during the week we were there (guess we looked like targets!) but we obviously never took the bait.

When I was younger and I took my first trip through Europe alone, I was in Italy and went to one of those delightful gelato shops. The price at the front said a cone was like 3 Euros, so I ordered one. A guy scooped it for me and told me to go wait in the line further down to pay. So I am already eating it when I arrive at the checkout and they demand 13 Euros. I said, no the price was 3! They said, oh that is for the other cone. You have the special cone.

I am ashamed to say I just paid it. If the same thing happened to me now that I am more savvy, I would just hand them back the half-eaten cone of gelato and threaten to call the cops.
orangetravel is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 05:12 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Wow, lincasanova. What experiences! I've been lucky enough to experience the opposite problem in Italy. Lots of extra food - no charge, courtesy of the waiter, owner, etc!

We've had extra charges added to bills in France, Turkey, and yes, the USA. Not sure if they were true scams or just honest mistakes. No problem with getting the extras removed.
nibblette is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 06:47 AM
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"Beautiful lady at the Bar scam - targeting single male who is asked to buy the lady a couple of drinks, only to find out later that the bar charges are through the roof"

I have never heard about that one if it didn't involve a bar with multi-coloured neon lights spelling Girls!Girls!Girls!

I think there are enough hints that the ladies in these bars might not be fascinated by the good looks and wit of the men but rather in their cut of the price of the drinks. And since their job involved dealing with drunken stag parties, I think they deserve every cent.
Hans is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Lincasanova: loved your stories and was laughing right along, but as a proud Canadian was taken aback at the tone of your remarks about 'this Canadian' who tried to 'scam' you.

Please note that I do appreciate that you did question whether it was intentional, but you sure don't give much credit: "So I teach this guy now that he still owes me $60CDN and why.It was like teaching a 5 yr old how to count change."

Did I understand correctly? you paid in US dollars in Canada aftern you had already been in town for several days? and then reacted this way because he didn't use a calculator to repay you in the accurate number of US dollars? (which, BTW, were not the 30% ratio you quoted in 1967 or 1968, the end of Expo-but I assume you were making a humourous point?).

Some will suggest I am being overly sensitive, but this seems neither like a deliberate scam nor a particularly hilarious incident, just a rather offensive slam at Canadians.
LJ is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Not sure how or if this is a scam, didn't get the chance to find out personally.

I was tired from "trying" to sleep on a train the night before I arrived in Paris. I had been in Munich the day before and my mind was spinning between German and French. On the Champs Elysees, I was approached by a young Asian woman who asked me (in broken English) if I spoke English. As mentally fatigued as I was, I confused her by replying "a little." She skipped a beat, but then asked me to buy a wallet for her at Louis Vuitton. My sister and I kept walking.

This also happened to my brother and his friend a couple of years prior. Only, they took the money. They walked past the old LV store (didn't see it). There was a man waiting for them at the other end of the street who "kindly" directed them to the store. They went in and came right back out - found the person who gave them the money and got out of there.

Shady deal that comes with a sob story about purchase limits and items for loved ones back home.
queen1730 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 07:54 AM
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queen1730 - I don't think that's a scam. It is known that LV puts a quota on customers as to how many items one can purchase. Somehow, Asian women tend to want to buy more than they are allowed by the quota, so they ask passerby to buy more for them.
yk is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 09:02 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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whoa. calm down.

Where did you read I had been in Canada for several DAYS?

We crossed the border from Seattle with no reservations. Called a B+B agency to see if they had anywhere to stay,
They found us one of their BEST B+B's. It was really lovely, and went straight to his house.

The next morning we settled accounts for the two nights, but we didn't have enough CDN dollars and would have to exchange some at a bank on our way to or from the Expo. He said HE since he travelled to the States a LOT, he didn't mind the dollars..actually preferred them (no conversion fee). So we paid the whole thing in dollars and got a FEW CDN also with no conversion fee. Good deal for both, right?

So, maybe it wasn't exactly 30% but it was near there some many of our trips over the several summers we spent after that first glorious trip to one of my favorite parts of the world. (Maybe 27%- 30% was one of the later trips ..if you could look it up as you seem to have access to the statistics.. thanks, or give me a website because I now am curious as to when we had that great exchange rate)

Yes, you should have seen the look on his face when I finally simply pointed out the math to him.. It was like he couldn't believe it. Of course I didn't ask him how long he had been exchanging the USA dollars in that way.

I said "5 yr old " because I thought maybe that is the age when they kind of understand numbers but don't quite get it?

And, please.. a calculator out for that one?

But since my memory fails me.. the exact amounts of the room and exchange fees may be a little off, but it was in that realm. We weren't talking a couple bucks here.

And I did not mean to be HILARIOUS, nor offend all Canadians, as my other stories I hope do not offend all Spaniards, proud as they may be. I have lived here 39 years, so have racked up a lot of experiences and find no harm in sharing them with native friends when they occur. They have stories, too.

I was just relating an UNusual incident I have suffered personally.

When I sat down to remember possible scam occasions, at first I couldn't remember many, but now they keep coming. Fortunately none of them has ruined a vacation but become a curious part of travelling and a study of people's morals.

I will try to post a few more, but certainly hope not to offend anyone whose countryman tried to pull a fast one on me..

Please don't take this personally.

And hey, the owners were renting 4-5 rooms in this huge house, had moved into a finished basement to provide this great deal to tourists for the entire Expo, and was NOT unworldly, let me tell you.

These people were well travelled and were hosting part of the Italian symphony or some other musician and his wife.

His foreign exchange ignorance, living so close to the border and travelling SO FREQUENTLY back and forth as he told us, was difficult to swallow. It really just FLOORED me when he did that. So I just got out a damn piece of paper.

My memories of Vancouver were not spoiled by one 2 minute math class.

The trip was so nice, I only remembered all this now when pondering about strange situations.. most of them dealing with money.

Accept my apologies.. the rest of you Canadians, Spaniards and Italians (so far on this post). But there's more to come.
lincasanova is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Thanks yk - I was vaguely aware of the quotas from my sister, who wanted to go to LV. I just wasn't sure how legitimate that woman's approach might be, given the man they had waiting for my brother... It's none of my business what they do with the bags once they have them, but I don't want to be in the middle of anything! It was just one of those situations that didn't sit well with either of us, especially after my brother's encounter.
queen1730 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 09:17 AM
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I recall reading reports here that someone did try to buy a purse from LV for an Asian lady, but somehow the LV employees got suspicious (not sure how the LV people found out), and they refused to sell the item to the Fodorite.
yk is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,602
It happened while there were still a lot of zeros on Romanian currency, and as I describe it, I could never confirm absolutely that I was scammed.

From my trip report to Romania:

On another night we ate at a better class restaurant, and I left the cash on the table with a 10% tip and we walked out. We had not walked out more than 20 yards when the person behind the desk--not the waitress--came out claiming that we had given 700,000 lei instead of 1,100,000 lei, giving two 100,000 bills instead of two 500,000 bills. I did not argue because I had made amount errors before (remember Sighisoara?), and exchanged the 100,000 bill for a 500,000 bill. But I woke up in the middle of the night positive that I did not make such a mistake. Who knows? The moral to the story is that even if you leave enough for the total plus the tip, make sure the waiter approves of the amount before leaving the table.
Michael is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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When I first started reading the stories, I could only think of one scam while I thought of the millions of kindnesses shown to me while traveling.

About ten years ago I arrived in Amsterdam and went to the ticket machine to buy a train ticket to Haarlem. I didn't have the correct change in coins. While I was reading directions and deciding what to do, a fellow in cleaning overalls uniform came by and said he had change. I handed him my bill and he put the coins in the machine and handed me the ticket. I asked for my change. His answer, "You were stuck and I helped you so why are you fussing about a few euro?" I was tired and backed down. Not a lot of money, but not a good impression.

As I wrote I thought of another from 41 years ago. I was one of the chaperones with a group of high schoolers on a trip to Spain. Those were the days of travellers checks. One morning in Madrid, I came down and changed a check at the front desk. There was no listing of exchange rate, but I knew the approximate value. The money seemed a bit short and I questioned the fellow. He said that was the "hotel rate"
Shortly afterwards, one of the other chaperones came down and cashed the same amount of checks and got a substantially larger amount for her checks. (She is beautiful like a magazine cover, but so nice, one can't hate her, and I am a bit on the mousy side). I moved in and asked why the discrepancy and all of a sudden the fellow didn't speak English and my Spanish wasn't up to the job. I still don't know whether I got gypped or she got a bonus.

That same hotel also took us for a ride in a dispute over a doorknob. Two of the quietest, most polite girls came to us the night we arrived with a doorknob in their hands. they said when they went to close the door, the knob just came out in their hand. We called the desk and someone came to fix it.

The morning we checked out, they handed us a bill for $100 (two weeks pay for me that year). The male chaperone tried to dispute the charge, but they threatened to call the police. We knew we could be held up all day and since we had a long drive ahead of us, we grudgingly paid.
irishface is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 01:39 PM
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Here's another one.
I bought some beautiful alabaster pieces to take to my parents one Christmas from a small shop along the Levante coast.

The man took them in the back to wrap them and put the larger one in a box and everything. I was so grateful

When I got home at Xmas and gave my father the taller box, he opened it to find a small round urn I had never seen before. The other smaller piece was the one I had purchased, but this one wasn't.

Fortunately I was able to go back to the small family shop a few weeks later and tell them the story and get the Real piece back.

Our son had a real scam in Beijing you can read here for those of you who are not familiar with this common rip off.

lincasanova is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2009, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
And here is my scariest one I hope never to be repeated.

lincasanova is offline  

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