- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- Why Gringos Can Be Full of Shit with Prices in Latin America
Imagine you live in some Latin country like Mexico or wherever.
Over time, you decide you need to buy something!
You could go maybe some big shopping mall in a part of town where everything is overpriced.
Similar to going to Liverpool in Mexico City and finding crazy expensive laptops in Roma Norte that are double or whatever when compared to what you’d pay elsewhere.
Or perhaps you go to a local street market to buy something – a phone perhaps or whatever it might be.
And the phones you are looking at are maybe 25 to 50 bucks a piece.
Granted, the phones might’ve been stolen but who cares about that?
We want a deal, damn it!
But you decide to shop around…
And look up on Facebook groups people selling the same phones or other products you are interested in.
And the prices they want?
Maybe double or more what you’d pay elsewhere.
Now, in theory, maybe the price of whatever product you are looking at is reasonably priced when compared to the market rate back home in the US.
But it might not seem very reasonable when compared to prices in Mexico.
Here’s an example of what I mean among others I have noticed.
Looking for a New Laptop
So about two months ago more or less….
My last laptop died on me.
It survived the good fight!
Having technical issues like the Blue Screen of Death ever since I bought the thing.
To also surviving a night a few years ago when I spilled a vodka/black tea mix all over it.
Surprisingly, it survived such an incident after I took it to Best Buy in Mexico City.
Granted, even though it worked, it still had issues.
Like the audio not working unless you put in headphones…
To the keyboard not working.
And, over time, it increasingly had more difficulty connecting to the local Wifi as it would randomly disconnect from the Wifi.
To which you’d have to maybe at times turn the laptop on and off again to get it to work.
Finally, a few months ago, it simply stopped working.
So I needed a new laptop.
In the apartment building that I was at, there was another young American guy from Florida named Alex.
Who was a nice guy all around and was simply living in Mexico for 6 months out of the year waiting for his next job assignment to be handed to him.
He worked for the Department of Transportation or something like that in which they had him sent to areas damaged by incidents like hurricanes to fix shit up.
Anyway, he had a laptop that he was thinking of selling before heading home again to do a visa run.
He wasn’t the biggest fan of it since it had a Spanish style keyboard with it and other things.
But it worked fine!
He bought it used anyway on Mercado Libre.
And I figured maybe I could buy it from him for cheap since it was used and I just wanted a cheap laptop to have until my next visit home.
Mostly because laptops and other technological goods tend to be cheaper in the US than in Mexico.
Much better deals you can get up north but I needed a cheap laptop now so I can keep doing work online.
Anyhow, Alex wasn't content with selling the thing for anything cheaper than 500 bucks or roughly 10,000 pesos.
So I gave it a day to do my research regarding what the usual rate for the laptop is.
From what I could see online based on people trying to sell this same laptop in Mexico…
It looked like I could get the same used laptop for as cheap as roughly around 270 bucks more or less.
With other folks trying to sell it for 300 bucks more or less on average.
So it seemed to me like maybe he got gringo priced and bought the thing for more than it was worth?
But it could also be the case that, as a gringo, Alex simply felt like 300 bucks was too little for what the laptop offered despite the market rates in Mexico for it.
So I ultimately bought a different laptop elsewhere that is actually new and not used.
But this is perhaps an example of what I mean when I say that you have to be careful buying from other gringos in Latin America.
Different Expectations of Price
At the end of the day, it’s fair to say that gringos and locals have different mindsets regarding money.
Mostly because they come from different worlds in terms of how much to pay for things and how much money is too little or too much.
You could buy a set of cheap headphones out in the street for as little as 50 cents to a dollar.
What would a gringo try selling said headphones for?
Well, assuming said gringo isn’t taking into consideration the market rates…
He might try to sell it for 5 bucks!
Shit, I could see said gringo trying to sell the damn thing for as much as 10.
And that’s because it isn’t worth it to said gringo to sell the thing for 50 cents.
That’s basically nothing to him compared to the guy in the metro train whose job is it to sell those things to put food on the table.
Other times it could be that said gringo has an unrealistic value of their product – particularly with gringos who run a side hustle down here making crafts to sell.
Like small tables or whatever the fuck else.
The stereotypical version of this is some chick who has some type of “spiritual hippy bullshit” vibe coming from her…
That usually talks to others in a condescending manner with a stick up her ass.
All the while trying to sell some poorly made table or chair that has some paint thrown onto it for what overcharged price.
In this case, you could argue it is simply an unrealistic idea of what her product is valued.
But also, to a degree, I would bet the same principle from Alex applies here also.
In which she isn’t willing to charge what a local would because said price is too little to her.
Even though to the local the price might be reasonable….
To her, selling at that price might put the value of her labor to produce that chair at below what is minimum wage in her own country back home.
Because that is the country she was raised in, her perception of what is too little money to do business for is different than the local.
So naturally she is going to charge more for it.
Same thing happens at times when you are on Facebook groups and seeing gringos trying to sell used furniture or some shit like that before their return home.
I’ve seen at times folks overcharging the overused shit they are selling in which you could get the same thing for much cheaper elsewhere.
A mini futon or small ass armchair/sofa?
I’ve been looking at prices for that recently!
Some gringos trying to sell their used shit for at minimum 150 bucks to 500 bucks for something that isn’t much and used.
Meanwhile, on Mercado Libre, I can get some basic new shit for as little as 50 bucks (which would be very basic) to something like 150 to 200 bucks.
And that would be something new.
Still basic though to be fair.
Nonetheless, it’s one reason why I caution people against buying from other gringos because it does seem like, to a degree, you have some folks down here with completely unrealistic values for what they want to sell.
Though, to be fair, the locals are not always perfect when it comes to pricing shit either.
As I wrote in this article here, you have the typical ol’ gringo pricing that some of the locals try on us.
So nobody is perfect.
And I emphasize also that not every gringo has an unrealistic value for what they want to sell.
Just be smart about it.
Do your research ahead of time before buying anything.
And do know that you shouldn’t trust another gringo to give you a fair price for something just because they are like you being another foreigner in this country.
That’s a mindset that some folks have down here thinking that other foreigners are naturally more inclined to not fuck you over.
Even though you have some gringos who are actually literal scam artists trying to steal from you.
Which isn’t part of the topic in this article since that’s a slightly different topic…
Either way, as I said, don’t think another gringo isn’t going to give you a bad price just because they are like you.
They can be full of shit also just like anyone else!
Anyway, that’s all I got to say on the matter.
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Thanks for reading.