10 Years of Blog Archive

Friday, May 10, 2013

What Is It Like Doing Buisness in Ecuador

DISCLAIMER:  As is customary on this website, the article below depicts our experiences and not our opinions.  Please do not take this article as a personal rant. Our readers want to know the nitty-gritty of Cuenca-life. We are becoming quite accustomed to the way of life and these things are hardly ever an issue with us anymore.

Setting Appointments in Ecuador?

In Ecuador expect to not get anything accomplished too early, unless of course you have a scheduled appointment with a lawyer or other business type person. And “by too early” we mean not until after 10am. And even then setting an appointment BEFORE almuerzo hour is a “hit and miss” at best. If you have to set an appointment more than likely it will be pushed back to after 3pm or later in the afternoon, which is end of lunch hour here.

Setting appointments on Friday afternoon or Saturday has not been a good idea because we’ve been stood up almost every time, although some of the times we received a call letting us know they can’t make the appointment. We finally decided to not meet or set appointments on these two days. Ecuadorians like their family time, and that’s perfectly fine with us, we just need a reminder now and again.

And when Friday afternoon rolls around, many Cuencanos have already started their weekend, which lasts until Sunday in the late evening. We really respect and appreciate the values they have for family in Ecuador and it is the top-most reason why we chose Ecuador ourselves.

Ecuadorians DO NOT Check Email Very Often 

We have found most Ecuadorians that we have queried do not check their email and if they do check their email it is only about every ten days or so. Email has not caught on in Cuenca like it has in the Northern country.  This also applies to professional, well-known lawyers in Cuenca. It might be different for the bigger cities of Ecuador.  We’ll see.

We have found the best way to get a hold of an Ecuadorian service business is to call or just show up at their office. FORGET EMAIL.  We’ve asked every single real estate agent that we have worked with how often they check their email and they just smile and tell us not very often.  North Americans are also dismayed and report that when trying to make reservations they don’t get responses to their emails and or phone calls.

This practice of not checking emails leads us to believe that Ecuadorians prefer to do business over the telephone and in person, which is reasonable enough, as long as you know you may not get a reply if you email them. We have had new folks to Cuenca tell us that top-named Cuenca Lawyers don’t answer their emails. Some of them simply gave up and got a new Lawyer, others waited until they got down here and then made an appointment to actually see them in person, which always works, unless it is Friday afternoon.

Ecuadorian Business Hours
You will not find business hours posted on the windows and doors of most businesses. Most service type businesses in Ecuador do not even open until around 10:00 or so in the morning. Many mom and pop businesses open their doors whenever they feel like it.

Because business hours are not posted on the doors of businesses we will ask them when they open and how late they stay open. Oftentimes they do not open at the time they verbally told us, but later. In point of fact, we had a business owner telling us they open at ten a.m. on the very same morning that we waited for them to open and they had just opened at ten forty a.m.  (smile) 

If you try calling businesses before 10am you probably will not get an answer. Ecuadorians like to eat a late breakfast and it lasts until 10am. If they happen to be eating breakfast they will very rarely answer their cell phone. Keep trying however, once they are through eating they will answer. 


Plan on Twice as Long to Get Business Done
Because the hours don’t start until after 10am for most businesses and because they take between 1:30 to 3:00 off for lunch, it may take twice as long to get business tasks accomplished in Ecuador. Simply allow for the extra time it takes and enjoy your new laid-back lifestyle in Ecuador.

Remember to be patient with the Ecuadorians because after all, it is their way of doing things and they are used to it. When Norte Americanos become impatient, frustrated, and testy with the Ecuadorians it makes them look like the nasty gringos. And we don’t think anyone would want a reputation like “the nasty gringo” going around in this beautiful country, which has been called paradise for the fourth year in a row, right?


  1. Frank & Angie,
    Great post! I really appreciate the way you guys give us useful information about everyday life in Ecuador. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will really reduce frustration in becoming accustomed to a new culture. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    Jo M.

  2. Those hours work for me, I am not a morning person. Great article and very informative because I usually like people to be on time for appointments but I will adjust no problem.


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