One time I was sitting in the metro in Metro Cuatro Caminos station in Mexico City.
I had just left my girlfriend’s place and I was sitting down heading back to Metro Juanacatlán.
Anyway, I’m sitting down as the metro is moving along and I see this woman selling what looks like bags of cheetos.
Not actual cheetos but cheeto looking chips in a plastic bag.
Anyway, I forgot the exact price she was quoting but these street sellers always yell out their prices in the open for anyone who wants to buy one.
Let’s say she was selling them for 10 pesos a bag more or less.
Which would be a fair price.
So she is yelling out “se vende, se vendeeee 10 pesitos”
And, feeling hungry, I get her attention as she walks past me.
She turns around and I had the 10 pesos in hand ready to give to her.
Then she looks at the 10 pesos and then looks at me with a confused face.
To which she then waves a finger and goes “NoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo!!!!!!! 20 Pesos” with a retard face.
Obviously I put the 10 pesos back into my pocket and told her to piss off.
With her mumbling some shit under her breath that I didn’t catch…
Maybe something like “ay pinches gringos, tienen todo el dinero y no quieren comprarme un coche….”
Or something along those lines – who knows what she mumbled.
But regardless, she, I guess you can say, tried giving me the “gringo price.”
To which she was selling her bags of cheetos for 10 pesos a piece to everyone in the metro but wanted to charge me 20 pesos just because of my look.
Now, the difference between 10 and 20 pesos isn’t much – we are talking a difference of 50 cents at most.
To where she was charging 50 cents to everyone and wanted to charge me 1 dollar.
Still, when we are talking about the “gringo price.”
It is something that happens and ends up becoming an observation of most foreigners who live in Latin America.
A typical complaint of “oh, damn locals, they want to charge us more like ATM machines.”
“That’s all they see us as, damn it! Just ATM machines, nothing more!”
Or something along those lines.
But is the complaint accurate?
Are we just ATM machines to the locals?
How frequent of an issue is this “gringo price?”
Let’s discuss by breaking down everything that comes to mind.
Where Do You Find the Gringo Price More Often?
First, most people I come across don’t try to overcharge me money just because.
In any country I have been to down here.
But we will break down the country factor next.
For now, let’s discuss in what areas you might find the typical gringo price applied.
First, open air markets outside.
If you go to a market with plenty of goods being sold…
But the goods in question don’t have prices already listed on them…
Like 20 pesos for some fruit or whatever…
Then you are at greater risk of getting the gringo price.
Because if the prices are already listed, then obviously that is the price everyone pays and not just you.
For example, I remember when I lived near Metro CU in Mexico City…
And I had to buy some shampoo.
So I walk outside and we had this huge market every week outside my apartment…
And so I went walking around asking for the price of shampoo with different sellers.
One wanted to sell me his for over 100 pesos.
Another sold me his instead for less than 40 pesos.
Second, you might get the gringo price quite often with taxis.
Third, anything sold on the street in general – not just in markets – like candies, cigarettes, etc.
Like the chick trying to double the price of cheetos in the story above at the start of this article.
Fourth, you might find gringo pricing with apartments.
Not only because some neighborhoods in some cities – like Roma or Condesa – get a ton of foreigners and richer Mexicans who drive the prices up.
But also you have local apartment owners who specifically want foreigners to live there.
They will often try to pitch you their place in English and approach you with the offer.
Knowing that gringos don’t have problem paying 1,000 or more for some cheap place in the US…
And that we have more money or that is the perception they have of us anyway…
And that we may not know the local prices for apartments if we are new somewhere…
So overall, some apartment owners might look specifically for foreigners for that reason and charge a little bit more than normal.
Anytime I see an apartment offer online and they say that they want foreigners or market towards them or anything like that…
I usually skip it – I’ve seen too many like that where they are obviously gringo pricing folks.
And, on another note, they sometimes can be the type of Latino who only wants to deal with gringos because also they want to practice their English.
Sometimes they fall into the “Latinos going full gringo” crowd as I wrote here.
Where I met this one lady who was tripping when I wasn’t texting her in English and she tried passing off Google Translated English my way to come across as very “educadaAaAaAaAaAaAa!!!”
Anyway, that’s another topic.
But most apartment owners aren’t like that, don’t gringo price and usually have their apartment offers online already with the price included.
Unless they insist on “telling the price by private message to anyone interested.”
Those I’d be cautious of.
But, despite most apartment owners being cool, it can happen.
Though, if you have a place already that you live at, they might try to gringo price you on things while you live there.
I read a story of this one lady trying to fuck over an Italian chick online in Mexico City by trying to claim that she broke everything under the sun and stole a lot of stuff.
Basically trying to scare a foreigner into giving lots of money.
Personally, I had an apartment in Barranquilla, Colombia where the landlord had a washing and drying machine available and would charge the use of those machines separately.
At one instance, he would charge 5 bucks normally but then try to increase the price to as high as 20 bucks before I would have to negotiate him down and threaten that I will just use a delivery washing and drying service from outside.
“oh, ok gringo, lo siento, 5 dolares, esta bien”
Or whatever the Price was but i think it was around 5 bucks more or less.
Anyway, like I said, most apartment owners are chill but some can try to gringo price you with the rent or with other stuff while you live there.
Fifth, once in a blue moon you might find gringo pricing with bars and nightclubs.
That is extremely rare in my experience but it can happen.
The only time that has happened to me is with the bars near El Centro of Mexico City.
There’s some street over there – I think Madero.
Where you have promoters for bars outside trying to hustle people in.
And they will quote you beer prices that are quite decent and then try to charge you double or even triple the price once inside.
Or lie about promotions that they have, etc…
I’d always see the beer prices being a bit higher on their menus inside than what the promoter would say…
And then ask them about it.
Sometimes they would cave and give me the price advertised – others times no and I would just walk out and drink somewhere else.
Anyway, that’s all the things that come to mind when it comes to gringo pricing.
I’m sure gringos get gringo priced in other ways – perhaps with tourism agencies taking trips somewhere or whatever.
For example, as I edit this, there's a comment in the comment section by a guy named Dazza who reminded me that flights in LATAM can sometimes be double the price or more for gringos than for the locals.
The reason why is that most foreigners will go to a website like Expedia and get flights that cost 250 USD from one city in Peru or Colombia to the other....
The comment above reminded me of a time when I lived in Colombia and was going to Bogota from Barranquilla with my Colombian girlfriend at the time...
And she was looking at tickets on Avianca website that costed like 50 dollars or whatever for the roundtrip while all the offers on Expedia and other websites used by gringos were charging 250 or whatever...
So, as a tip, check the prices on the local Latino airline websites than the ones in Expedia if you are going from one Latin city to another. It could be a better deal for you.
Regardless, gringo pricing doesn’t happen equally everywhere across Latin America either so let’s get into that also.
Gringo Pricing by Country
Some countries down here are worse with gringo pricing than others in that they happen a lot more.
In my experience, most Mexicans seem relatively honest and not bad at all with gringo pricing.
It’s also more common to find prices listed for things down here so the option to gringo price is less available to the locals.
But, for the most part, Mexico isn’t too bad with the issue relatively speaking and is one of the things I like a lot about Mexico compared to other countries.
Second, the “Caribbean” part of Latin America seems pretty fucking bad when it comes to gringo pricing.
For example, I was going to say that Colombia is bad when it comes to this issue – and it definitely is relative to a country like Mexico.
However, not all of Colombia is the same obviously – the issue is much worse in the Caribbean Coast of Colombia than anywhere else I saw there.
But Colombia as a whole wasn’t the best spot for me when it comes to this issue.
You also have other “Caribbean” parts of Latin America like the DR where gringo pricing was also pretty fucking bad in my experience.
I’ve heard it’s not very good in Cuba either but I don’t know personally.
Either way, there seems to be a trend here where Caribbean parts of Latin America tend to be worse for some reason.
Next, you have areas of Latin America that have a relatively high indigenous population.
Not saying all indigenous folks want to gringo tax you….
But I’m just saying from my experience that areas like Guatemala, Bolivia or Peru were pretty bad when it comes to the locals trying to fuck over foreigners on pricing.
My suspicion is that it comes from sticking out more obviously as a foreigner and maybe that somehow drives the locals to gringo tax more.
Even in Mexico…
There’s a part of Mexico called Chiapas that has a relatively high indigenous population and was also a place – just like Guatemala next door – where I encountered locals trying to gringo tax me or cheat me in general.
I remember when I was in Guatemala for example and the bus I was taking had to stop in front of this building with local vendors.
I’m thinking of buying some water and I have my hands in my pockets…
Looking at this bottle of water but it looked like it had some soap in it so I was going to walk off…
When then the local vendor – this very old lady – literally knocks the water bottle with soap to the floor as quickly as possible…
Right in front of me!
Then tries charging me money for it by claiming I knocked it down.
Fucking cunt – I left her to clean up the mess and she didn’t get a dime.
But that was some weird shit – I obviously saw her knock it over right in front of me!
Guatemala in general was just a bad place I noticed when it comes to gringo pricing in my personal experience but really any area that has a high indigenous population seems to be that way.
Again, not accusing all indigenous people of doing this – most are good folks – just something I have noticed.
Anyway, another type of area that has the gringo pricing more commonly – and it should be obvious – are touristy areas.
If I went to Cancun, I’d bet for sure I would get gringo priced a shit ton.
In Mexico City – gringo pricing isn’t really that much of an issue in normal areas like near Metro CU for example.
But in El Centro?
On Valentines Day with an ex girlfriend, I had this fucker on the street dressed as a clown harass me to buy his balloons and he was quoting prices “5,10, how about 20 dollars?!?!”
Yeah, like I’m going to buy his fucking balloon (when I didn’t even ask for it) for 20 dollars when I can buy some in the metro for like just a buck or some shit.
Anyway, those are the areas of Latin America that seem to be worse for gringo pricing.
Most other areas, in my personal experience, were not really bad enough to mention them.
And parts like Argentina or Chile actually seemed not bad at all – arguably the best I had seen in Latin America in terms of not encountering the gringo price at all really.
Though I’m sure it happens there also but still…
Anyway, let’s address one other aspect of "geography" in terms of gringo pricing but in a more direct way.
Institutionalized Gringo Pricing
Finally, there are more direct examples of gringo pricing that are much more obvious.
This includes basically foreign governments in LATAM trying to charge gringos/foreigners with a seperate price than what they would charge the locals.
To give credit, there's a comment below in the comment section by a reader named Dazza who reminded me of this.
Where basically it would be government policy to have a "special price" for foreigners in certain touristy areas.
In Mexico City, I haven't seen any "two tier" pricing systems but I also haven't been to any overly touristy areas in a while.
And, to be fair, this isn't just something that happens in LATAM with gringos going to some touristy site in Peru and getting an official separate price from the locals...
The best example I can think of is when foreigners often use the CUC money instead of the CUP in Cuba.
The CUC being more expensive to use as 1 CUC is equal to 1 USD while 1 USD is apparently equal to 25 CUP.
A bit of a difference!
And these two examples are greater illustrations of how gringos can be charged more in certain Latin countries depending on the circumstance.
Anyway, let's now get into the psychology behind it all and finish this article on some tips.
Gringo ATM Machine Criticism
So when discussing this issue…
There seem to be two counter perspectives on it…
Gringos who will trip over themselves to pretend it is not an issue and get angry if you claim it is or even mention it…
These are the type of gringos who will die tripping onto a sword going to great lengths to defend the country where this criticism is being applied towards.
Mostly because of some mentality that makes them think that any criticism – small or big – of Latin America is….
“Racist!!! How FUCKING dare you say something slightly negative of LATAM!!!”
These fuckers get angrier than even the locals do!
Like male feminists tripping over themselves in hopes they get some pussy if they defend a cause.
“ugh, all men are trash. OK, will you now touch my penis please, Karen?”
Anyway, you have those folks – even if the criticism is valid like gringo pricing – they get angry and will go to war.
On the other hand, you have gringos who walk all day bitching about everything in the country….
“Even the air is shit here in Mexico!! Mexico…Mexico…Why are you all so retarded that you can’t even have nice air!!!”
Well, to be fair, air pollution can be a big issue in some parts of Latin America…
Bogota, Colombia is apparently a bad place for it.
But you get the point – the type of gringo who can’t find anything nice about the place they live in and always have something to bitch about 24/7.
To be fair, I’ve had moments where living down here has pissed me off – but I think that is normal for most folks – mostly just blowing off steam.
However, while I don’t agree with the gringos who want to ignore the issue of the gringo tax.
Who will also say things like “they are so poor here…let them rip us off!!!”
To which I wonder if those same folks let the locals fuck their wife because “they are so poor!! They need it!”
Well, ain’t my fucking issue but obviously I don’t agree with that...…
Either way, when listening to the type of gringo who does have an issue with gringo pricing…
Be it the type who gets pissed over everything…
Or perhaps a more reasonable gringo who isn’t a cuck but does have issue with gringo pricing…
A common sentiment among both of them is – as I said before – feeling like an ATM machine where the locals just want to use you for money and that is it.
In a way, it reinforces the reminder that you are not from their country and will never be accepted as one.
Always the outsider.
To which I’m fine with personally since I’m proud of where I came from.
But the issue with being treated as an ATM machine can be annoying.
Though I’d say most Latinos down here aren’t like that and don’t treat or see you as such.
Most are normal but you got some bad apples to be sure.
Anyway, that’s some of the psychology I have seen behind different types of gringos who address this issue.
But how do you avoid the issue of gringo pricing?
Here’s some tips to finish this article with.
Tips to Avoid the Gringo Price
So what are some ways that you can either avoid or handle the gringo pricing?
First, learn Spanish. If you walk up to a local with shitty Spanish like….
“yo….yo…..tener…..verga en boca!!!!”
When really you wanted to say “me gustaría comprar una torta por favor!”
Well, ok, say the first one and you might get laughed at and charged double the Price.
Just having that confidence and Spanish ability will help a bit in getting charged normal prices.
Second, avoid spending too much time in touristy areas or at the very least be more cautious with folks trying to sell you something as you have more scammers looking for foreigners there.
Third, be careful with Latinos who speak English with you when you speak Spanish well enough. Like I said, I’m always cautious or will just ignore any Latinos trying to get me to go with their apartment when they are offering me a place in English.
Or have their advertisements online in English and say that they “really prefer foreigners” to stay there.
Not saying all Latinos who speak English are bad – I stayed at a place in Pachuca where the landlord spoke perfect English (though she never offered me the place in English if I remember right).
Either way, that’s another issue.
Fourth, if you are going to the market…
It’s recommended to not buy the first thing you are looking for that you see.
Ask for the price and look around at what others are offering.
I remember this lady in a market in Pachuca tried charging me double for some mint leaves and she yelled at me “joven….joven…..joven!!!!!” as I walked away.
Fifth, have a local friend.
A local friend who can ask for the prices themselves if your Spanish is weak and/or who can tell you what the typical price for something is in their experience.
Like with the mint leaves above?
I knew they were double the price because a chick I went on some dates with told me what I would pay if I went to the market.
Ended up finding someone else a few seconds later for the right price.
Locals anyway will probably know the prices better than you obviously.
Though, on the other hand, keep in mind also that every local down here comes from a different socioeconomic class obviously.
I have a friend named Angie who makes good money herself…
I asked her about what I should pay for a cheap keyboard to attach to my laptop since I never bought one in CDMX before.
She said at least 400 pesos but maybe as much as 1,000.
I ended up finding a good deal for about 97 pesos.
Of course, you get what you pay for.
Her keyboard that she has looks quite nice but mine works pretty good and I’m happy with it.
On top of that, I also want to say that sometimes the local might give you a price in mind that they believe you'll be paying because you are a gringo.
They just see your white face and assume you'll be charged more so they tell you what the higher price they expect you'll get versus what the locals pay.
It's not that they want to mislead you. It's just they think you won't get a better price and are trying to tell you what they think will happen.
So just know that locals won't always give you a real idea of what something costs because either their background is wealthier and they pay more themselves and/or they don't believe you will not get a gringo price.
Sixth, when dealing with taxis in Latin America…
First, NEVER get in a taxi before asking the price or if they use the meter machine.
Knock on their window of their door or open the passenger door…
Then ask for the price.
If the price isn’t what you like, negotiate or tell them to kick rocks.
Sometimes they will lower the price as you walk away and yell it at you.
Also, as a bonus tip, it’s even better if you managed to catch a taxi that was moving along and had to stop for you but it has angry drivers who had to stop behind him….
The vehicles behind will honk, the taxi driver will go “ay dios!” and will feel more stress to just accept whatever reasonable price you want as people are honking at the fucker to keep driving.
At least that is my theory as to why taxi drivers in that situation tend to be more agreeable on price.
Also, if you have that friend with you…
If they are a local without an accent, have them ask for the price while you are standing to the side not in complete view.
I find taxis are less likely to cheat locals obviously.
However, if the person who is asking the price for you is a woman…
That could backfire.
Women tend to not negotiate as well in my experience --- usually since you are the one paying for it, they don’t give a fuck about the price as much.
Sometimes, in worst case scenarios, they will forget to ask the price and just get in or get in the vehicle after the price is offered without even trying to tell you the price for you to negotiate.
So while a female friend can be OK if she is local for asking for the price…
Sometimes they can fuck it up since they are probably not paying.
Always have a male local friend do the negotiating.
Remember the same apartment owner in Colombia that tried overcharging me for washing and drying services one time?
He was a fucking pro at getting better prices with the taxis.
He was a bit rougher in personality and very aggressive – especially with the taxis.
“What do you mean you want 10,000 pesos?!?! We pay 9,999 pesos EVERY FUCKING DAY for this route and it’s always the same! Don’t be a faggot, no jodaaaa!!!!”
Literally those words always and it worked.
No matter how good or bad the price was – he would go to war to get an even better price.
More power to him.
Anyway, another tip for taxis is not take any shit if they try changing the price on you.
Like in this story here with a taxi driver in Colombia – one tried arguing I changed the price on the ticket when I didn’t.
He thought I didn’t speak Spanish but I told him to fuck off and he shut his mouth.
End of story – normal price paid.
Don’t let them try to rip you off.
Finally, as a last tip for taxis, just use uber.
Boom. All the other tips not needed for taxis.
Getting off taxis….
Seventh, another tip to avoid the gringo price is to just avoid anyone selling anything on the street – chocolate or whatever -- if they don’t have a price written down on it already that you can see.
Not necessary if you know the local prices but can help to avoid these folks in general who do want to scam you.
Eighth, negotiate the prices if you want. Like I said, stand up for yourself. Know that negotiating is common and can often be expected.
Ninth, investigate any prices online if you happen to not have any locals who know what something would cost locally.
Tenth, don’t let it get to you.
This isn’t to avoid the gringo tax but to not let it bother you too much if it ever happens.
Yes, some locals do try to treat you like an ATM machine.
If they do manage to rip you off…
First, lesson learned. Life goes on.
Second, if it’s an issue of a lot of money, you probably are not getting your money back (but that would most likely involve a scam and not just normal gringo pricing).
Third, in most cases, you might have been charged an extra 5 bucks at most or maybe 50 cents.
Who gives a fuck.
Obviously don’t do business or support folks who want to rip you off for being a foreigner…
Out of principal and self-respect.
But don’t let it get to you – it’s just 50 cents or whatever it is.
Wrapping it Up
Anyway, that’s the article for you!
I could have said a lot more in terms of examples of the gringo price being applied to me…
With the occasional landlord offering me an apartment in some exaggerated price…
To the occasional story of Colombian taxi drivers trying to fuck me on prices…
There’s a lot of stories with that since Colombians in Barranquilla tend to be relatively bad when it comes to the gringo price in my experience!
To sometimes the locals not trying to gringo price you necessarily but trying to get money from you in other ways..
Like the occasional kid in Bolivia or Guatemala who is sprinting to jump in front of a photo you are taking of a mountain in the distance because they can now claim you took a photo of them and demand money for it.
Or how an Argentinean employee for a bus company who is packing your bags under the bus and is demanding a tip from you specifically (and nobody else) or else “who knows what might happen to your bag amigo…”
Regardless, those are just more examples of locals trying to fuck over the gringo – not always through gringo pricing though.
But got any stories or questions of your own regarding this topic?
Drop them below.
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