10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Oops, I Got Gringoed Abroad: Gringo Gouging Overseas

Latin America and many Asian countries too, are notorious for gouging the gringo; from food and rents, to getting a document translated. If you live in South and Central America, you probably have been gringoed.  Funny thing is, we gringos are the ones who allow it to continue and then it gets out of hand and prices go up.

Instead of complaining about being gringo gouged all the time, we can do something about it. But before we can do something we have to understand “why” it happens and “why” they do it, so we can stop it in its tracks because over time it produces negatives in our lives. What we sow we reap principle.

                   Why Gringos Get Gringoed?

1.  Gringos don’t bargain. Most of us accept the first price quoted for something. This is just US cultural thing, but it is not what it's like in your new place abroad.  If you don’t speak Spanish or very little Spanish that’s ok; bring a Spanish speaking friend along with you when you purchase items, until you learn your numbers.
Solution: Learn Spanish numbers.

2. Gringos compare prices to back home. In most cases even the higher price we are quoted will be less than what we pay for the same item back home. As long as we keep comparing to back home we’ll keep paying the gringo price.
Solution: Stop comparing.

3.  We accept it.  We shrug our shoulders and call it some absurd label like “gringo tax” which clearly justifies skewed thinking, “It must be ok that I keep getting gringoed, because it’s a tax.” … No comment!
Solution: Don’t believe everything you read.

4. We don’t want to look cheap.  Hahaha, that’s funny.  Actually, it is when we accept gringo prices it shows that we have no principle. Now, that’s cheap!  A cheap person feels the need to keep up appearances and will simply pay the quoted price but later justifies why it's okay for the gringo to overpay.  The principled person speaks up about it, and walks away from the sale if he or she has to, which also helps the next gringo who bargains with that vendor.

Solution: Realize that in a country where EVERYONE negotiates it is acceptable that gringos negotiate too. Does it make you look cheap? That's something one feels that is within themselves...perhaps they have a low self esteem.  No one can make anyone look or feel cheap for paying the REAL price (going rate) for something. 

It is either negotiate or be gringoed just because you are fairer skinned than they are. It’s your call: principle or apathetic.

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel to Quito and the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!


  1. I'm a gringo currently in Medellin while attending a Spanish course at EAFIT; I don't bargain much with street vendors for small purchases of things like produce. For example, today I paid 2,000 pesos for five pieces of fruit. I probably could have got them for 1,000 but why bother for the sake of $.35 or so? I have bargained for a hat, on the other hand and after being asked for 20,000, eventually bought it for 8,000.

    I don't think of over-paying as a tax, but I do often think..."Who needs the money more...him or me?" I'm not about to give all my money away, of course, but I'm not going to haggle to save chump change.

  2. After reading your blog for about a year and buying your DIY Cuenca Ecuador Landing Guide, we were prepared to bargain when we went on our fact finding trip in July 2015, AND prepared to walk away, if necessary! Although bargaining kind of gave us the willies when we first got there, we were definitely in the zone by the time we left.

    And your continuing tips will, I'm sure, make our retiring to Cuenca next year so much more relaxed.

    Thanks so much for all the help!!!


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