7 Days of Looking Over My Shoulder

Incidents, either bad or that could be improved in the city.

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nearly_scammed
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7 Days of Looking Over My Shoulder

Post by nearly_scammed » Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:37 pm

Just spent 7 days in Puerto Vallarta with family members spanning 3 generations. I am never going back there again if I can avoid it.

1. Timeshares: The airport allows timeshare salesmen to get a first crack at you the moment you walk through the exit door, just after customs inspections. The pitch doesn't end there....everywhere you go, someone is offering you a "tour", with the caveat being you get to spend 90 minutes listening to a sales pitch. Tacky all around.

2. Taxis: Yellow taxi-drivers are big-time scam artists. The biggest scam is that they never seem to have enough "cambio" (change, that is). So a 50-peso ride could end up costing you 120 pesos extra if you give the driver a 200-peso bill and he only has 30 pesos to give you back (which, incidentally, would not have been enough change even for a 100-peso bill). Another scam: taxi driver offers to come back to the restaurant to pick us up after our dinner. I say okay and even give him a 20-peso tip to say thanks and sweeten the deal. He picks us up after dinner, drops us off at our hotel, and then says that it's going to cost us 30 pesos extra because he had to wait around. The thing is, we were in town the entire time. It was my first day and I was too disoriented to argue, so I gave him 20 extra after conferring with my brother, who was in the second cab. That driver told him 20, so our two cabbies didn't even have their scam worked out together. Crooks.

3. Restaurants: watch out for restaurants automatically adding a tip line (look for "propina"). They aren't supposed to do that. In one place called "Paradise Burger", the waiter added a tip but scratched it out on the check so we wouldn't be able to see that it was added, and then we'd give him even more. Luckily we added the bill up ourselves and discovered the attempted scam. Sadly, when I asked the hostess if I could speak to the manager, she said our waiter was the manager.

4. People: I've been to Mexico about 5 or 6 times, but not until this trip to Puerto Vallarta have I experienced such a palpable contempt from locals toward me and/or my family. I'm Latino and speak spanish and make it a point to be respectful in all my interactions. But my attempts at civility were met consistently with being ignored and/or treated rudely. These were not the same warm, humorous Mexicans I'd met in other parts of the country.

Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but the people and businesses in Vallarta made it anything but. Like Las Vegas here in the states, the whole point of the place is to suck the cash out of your pocket. The difference is that the people in Vegas understand that you attract more bees with honey.

I will never go back to Vallarta again. For the first time ever, Florida is looking really good for my next vacation.

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Post by ronald » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:44 pm

Florida is looking really good
Yeah them 50 peso taxi rides ($ 5 U.S.) will get you about as far as a fifty second power walk over there... I think there are quite a few of us foreigners who have paid 200 and even 500 pesos for a 40 peso ride over that wonderful excuse of having no change. We live, we learn... we post our experiences and warn others.

Timeshare salespersons are a pain wherever you choose to go for a vacation... I suggest you try Cuba next time, which will pretty much solve the scamming part on the tips too... You complain to the cops there and they'll just up and shoot the guy to make you feel a whole lot better.

Sorry you had a bad time... Unless you have champagne tastes on a beer budget (which I'm not accusing you of), s*** like this happens everywhere, and you just can't let it spoil your vacation. All I can add is I guess you're lucky that you speak Spanish as well... maybe that helped you figure out you been scammed.... I'm not so lucky; being only English speaking might mean that I got taken better than you were, but just to dumb to notice.. But I've always had a great time there, and in the big picture, really have gotten my monies worth.

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Post by davilin » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:09 am

Aside from the timeshare sharks, I have never had any of those problems. I read every bill thoroughly and have never caught any problems and carry enough small bills to take care of the taxis but on those times that I had only a 200 peso note, no trouble getting change. And the locals have always been "bend over backwards" friendly. Must just be because I'm so darn good lookin', eh? LOL. Well, there was one time that the market at Paradise mall in N.V. overcharged me for some cold cuts but I caught that on time. Sorry to hear of your negative experience and if it had been that way my 1st time, I probably would never have gone back, either.

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Post by benito » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:17 am

always negotiate the cab fare before getting in. you can get many different quotes for the same ride. ask a hotel employee what the rate should be for where you're going. if you complain when they quote more than you know it should be, more often than not they back down, in my experience, anyway. i also know the mexicans working in the tourist industry in pv don't make very much money so if i'm overcharged a couple bucks, big deal, it's not worth getting riled up over, i'm in pv not to get riled up. have an extra margarita, that always works for me!!!

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Post by BUFFETT 06 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:22 am

the only part of your trip report that i feel bad for you is the paradise burger incident, i agree, that waiter tried to pull a fast one. as far as the time share people go, who cares that you didn't care for them. they have a job to do and it's not that difficult to say no thank you. i don't understand why people continue to complain about time share people. as far as the people of vallarta being rude, maybe they were, maybe there were just reacting to your attitude. with a name like "nearly scammed" and a headline of "7 days of looking over my shoulder", i can only imagine what you thought you were intitled to as far as locals kissing your a$$ and because that did not happen, you complain about it. regarding the "cab scam"...next time try negotiating a fare before you jump in a cab. if you reserve a cab to pick you up after dinner, understand that the cab driver does have to wait, so you should pay him, otherwise walk or rent a car or perhaps you can do what most people do, don't ask him to wait and flag down a cab when your done with your dinner.

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Post by ellen » Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:29 am

Buffett 06, isn't the point about the cab driver the fact that he offered to come back? If he had to wait, that was his problem. We have had cabs come back for us too, at their suggestion, and never been charged extra.
And personally I think you should always be able to count on people behaving with respect and civility all around. It's the same old story of people on this board wanting to shoot the messenger and never believing that sometimes things go wrong in Vallarta. It's not quite Utopia yet.

To nearly_scammed, it's too bad about your vacation. There are too many places in the world to go for us to logically think you will give PV another chance. Most of us here haven't had such negative experiences except maybe with the timeshare people. I find the ones on the street extremely easy to ignore but I hate the shills in the restaurants who pretend they care whether you have had a good experience only as an opening to hook you in. Also, I learned the hard way several years ago to ask the cabbies if they have change before getting in their car. And you know what? They always have. I'm not so sure they would have if I hadn't asked, though.
Last edited by ellen on Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BUFFETT 06 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:30 am

hmm
Last edited by BUFFETT 06 on Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BUFFETT 06 » Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:33 am

i guess my post can be taken as "bashing" if you are overly sensitive. fact of the matter is that it seems like (on this board), there are complaints about every little thing that does not go the visitors way. i can understand the tip scam, i would be upset as well, but a driver not having change, locals being rude, ect, ect, those things happen. my intent is not to "bash" anyone, i also do not intend to pacify people when there poor judgement is blamed on others, assuming that things are the same in mexico or any other country (or state) is lack of knowledge, poor judgement, and flat out stupid. sorry i'm not so P.C..

if you choose to think that people should and are always civil and respectful, Do not complain about it when you are proven wrong. I agree, people should be civil, they should be respectful, but you know as well as i do, that is so far from the way things really are.

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Post by katnsocal » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:23 am

My only question is??? Why did this person not ask/negotiate the price before he got in the cab. It is that way everywhere I have ever been in Mexico, you confirm the price before you get in. As for having traveled in Mexico and never having seen TS people, I doubt that this person has ever been to one of the major tourist destinations cuz they are in Mazatlan, Cabo, Cancun, Acapulco, Ixtapa. To come on this board and totally trash PV and the people there in his first and second post, did he not read this board or any other PV board before he went on vacation? If he had the fact that there are timeshare people in the PV airport would not have been a surprise. I am not trashing his right to his opinion but sometimes you have to take at least partial responsibility for things that happen. If a person goes to a place they have never been to before without researching anything about it, then......they get what they get because they don't know any better.

The tip thing was a whole different story... unfortunately it has happened to me in PV before too (it used to be alot worse that it is now, we went to management and they made it right for us) what happened to the waiter I have no idea. Although it is no excuse...these things usually happen more during the slow season, money is short, kids need clothes for school and food to eat, rent needs to be paid....No way does it make it right but it is more likely to happen when money is not coming in.

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Post by ellen » Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:50 pm

The cab fare may have been negotiated but that doesn't mean the cabbie would know they didn't have change or that the passenger would know that the cabbie didn't either.

nearly_scammed
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Lots to respond to...

Post by nearly_scammed » Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:48 am

First of all, thank you to all who responded. It's good to see there are people who care enough to provide insightful feedback. I'll try to address your remarks, both the general and specific:

Negotiating cab fare: I learned about negotiating the cab fare after my first ride, and did so every time thereafter. The "no cambio" scam only made itself apparent after I got burned on it a second time. I call it a scam because driving a taxi, no matter where you do it, is a cash business and you are expected to carry more than 20 or 30 pesos in your pocket. PV is not some 3rd world backwater, and the cabbies there are savvier than that.

The timeshare salesmen were annoying simply because they seemed to be everywhere. I've been to other sand/sun destinations including San Jose del Cabo, Maui, Kauai, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, and have never seen such a level of activity. The fact that they get a crack at you the moment you exit customs tells me that the local government endorses it, which, in my humble opinion, creates an environment conducive to hustlers.

I can't quite understand the sensitivity that individuals such as BUFFETT 06 and katnsocal feel regarding my earlier remarks. I do believe that others reading my feedback prior to visiting PV can benefit. My report reflects my own experience in PV. I "trashed" it because I had a consistently bad time there (note that I didn't even delve into the low-quality beaches and the murkiness of the water in the Bay). I have other vacations to which I can compare it, as well as travels throughout North America and Europe. In my humble opinion, PV does not stack up with those other places, and I recommend that people who want to spend their hard-earned money on a relaxing vacation do so elsewhere. Apologies if this offends you.

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Post by BUFFETT 06 » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:55 am

dang, i have so much to say
Last edited by BUFFETT 06 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BUFFETT 06 » Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:58 am

have a lovely day folks !!!!!!

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Post by kcowan » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:16 pm

I have encountered worse situations in other places. South Beach adds 18% to meals and still leaves the blank tip line of the CC receipt.

Jamaicans trying to rip us off at every turn. Cancun as a boring tourist trap.

I carry a safety stock of US $1 bills and use those top top up when needed in taxis and for tips. I never negotiate for most rides because I usually know the rate and have more leverage when standing outside my place. I have heard that they ask for more when you ask in advance.

I am interested in what tourists expect. I think it is good that nearly_scammed does not return. No one should come to a place that makes them feel uncomfortable. We never go to Cancun or Florida or Jamaica anymore because we do not enjoy our stays there.

Yet I do not rant and rave to try and make them suitable for us. We vote with our feet. Same is true of restaurants in PV. Yet on balance we love the entreprenuerial spirit in PV.

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Post by kingofmen » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:43 pm

nearly_scammed
I am not someone who normally replies , I read the posts make comments to myself and off I go.
On this occasion I agree with Keith ( I don't always, I find him sometimes to eloquent ) It seems your out for revenge and I'm sorry it ain't gonna happen. I think you've found a destination you should probaly avoid. To join the message board with the screen name you used proves my point.
Sorry, I love PV and have never had a problem with the taxi, the people, or the service, but then again I've never eaten at a burger place in PV

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Post by winterpegman » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:48 pm

I too, rarely negotiated the price before hand. It helps to know what the standard fares are of course. I found that when I did negotiate, as kcowan suggests, they did indeed "up" the price quite often.

I wouldn't recommend this method unless A) You don't already know how much it should cost, and B) You don't at least have some rudimentary spanish skills.

The "no cambio" ruse is all over, not just PV. It's a common occurance here in Winnipeg as well.

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REVENGE IS MINE!!!!

Post by nearly_scammed » Tue Sep 16, 2008 3:56 pm

:D (See "kingofmen" below to understand my subject line)

This is hilarious! I have no agenda other than to share my PV experience with others. Is this message board an open free-speech forum for exchanging information, or are only those towing the pro-PV party line invited to participate? Why the sensitivity?

BUFFETT 06: please stop feigning restrained disgust and just say what you have to say (can you say "passive-aggressive"?). I'm not offended and am happy to respond to any of your criticisms.

kcowan: you almost get it. I agree that you/I should never visit a place where you/I feel uncomfortable. But "rant and rave"? I just got a huge laugh picturing myself pounding away angrily on the keyboard, eyes bulging wide, drooling like a deranged maniac. :lol:

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Post by ronald » Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:35 pm

I just got a huge laugh picturing myself pounding away angrily on the keyboard, eyes bulging wide, drooling like a deranged maniac
With the title to your post being 'Revenge is Mine' that is exactly the image of you that I get..... With all that bacteria freely flowing you're going to have to buy a new keyboard pretty soon...

PS: I still think you should try Cuba.

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Post by charlieb » Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:21 am

"Is this message board an open free-speech forum for exchanging information, or are only those towing the pro-PV party line invited to participate? Why the sensitivity? "

No, my friend, this board is NOT an open, free forum of exchange. It used to be, but over the years it has changed. If a person wants to remain here, it behooves them to tow the "party line" or no line at all. If you have a complaint with PV, just keep it to your self, otherwise, well, you can see the results. Sorry. Chuck... 8)

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LOL

Post by roowie » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:00 am

That's funny! You go Popcorn Balls!!!

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