Whenever you go on holiday abroad, it’s always best to keep your wits about you and try to ensure that you don’t fall for any of the common ways in which tourists are often ‘taken for a ride’. Getting caught out by one canny opportunist could be an incredibly costly mistake, and could even end up ruining your holiday.
Below is a brief description of the most common tourist cons that you should be aware of when visiting Spain.
Remember that holidaymakers often stick out like a sore thumb (socks and sandals, cameras, video cameras, big wads of money) and therefore will often be targeted immediately.
Some, obviously not all, taxi drivers, particularly those operating in tourist areas, will manipulate their taxi meters so that higher figures are shown than are actually stipulated by law. The holidaymaker sees the numbers on the machine and believes them to be true. Another con is to take the ‘scenic’ route, which ends up taking you all round the houses, making a 10 euro trip into a very expensive 20 or even 30 euro one.
Keep an eye out for persons who when you alight from a bus or boat, for example, will just pick up your cases and put them into the boot of their car ready to take you to your hotel. Do not mistake these people for representatives from a transport company that you may have previously booked.
Do not get involved in any street game that involves you betting on the outcome. You will often see this with a ball which will be hidden underneath one of three cups. You will have to guess where the ball is hidden. What you don’t know is that there is an accomplice playing the game and supposedly winning lots of money, therefore tricking passers-by into betting with their own money – which they will most certainly lose.
Pick-pockets are common in Spain, particularly in crowded areas such as markets, tourist attractions or airports. Even a mere brush against your person could result in having your wallet lifted. To avoid this do not carry large amounts of cash on your, keep your wallet in a safe place (not in your pocket), and wear your rucksack facing in front of you.
Be careful if someone comes along pointing out that you’ve got a stain, or that a bird has dirtied you shirt. Some of these will rob you while pretending to help you clean your clothing.
Flower sellers will often approach a couple and offer a flower to the woman. Then the man will be charged an extortionate price which he will have to pay if he doesn’t want to be embarrassed or look cheap!
The seller will offer the tourist a friendship bracelet, which he will attach to their wrist without permission and then charge him. This could also be a distraction to stealing from him at the same time.
Paella and sangria
Often in tourist areas there is a wide choice of bars and restaurants to choose from that offer typical Spanish food and drink. Some establishments, however, will take advantage of the fact that many of their clients will not return as they are on holiday and charge extortionate prices for badly prepared, reheated, cheap food that is anything buy typical.
Cashier on the phone
This is a relatively new con. The cashier pretends to be on the phone while serving you. While you think that she is running your items through the till, she is actually taking a photo of your credit card with her mobile.
This type of con has been detected in Madrid and Barcelona. Two people, dressed like hotel staff, knock on your hotel room door and tell you that they are there to inspect the room. In reality, while one makes out he’s checking that everything is in order, and distracting you, the other one is stealing your possessions.