The Con

Dwelling in the shadowy borderland between crime and legal behavior, the con is Peru’s favorite way to part you from your money. In fact, the culture here accepts a lot of things that would be ill-thought-of in the developed world. Don’t expect the truth to be as well-defined a concept in Peru as it is back home. People will often tell you things that they know to be false, sometimes to their financial gain, sometimes just because they think it’s what you want to hear.  

Look, a gringo! They’ve got pot loads of cash, so this one won’t mind if we help ourselves to a bit…. 

The tourist price hike 

Is it OK to charge a tourist five times what a local pays for the same service or item? My general take is no, it isn’t. I believe that I get on with people much better if I pay a fair price for what I’m getting.

The tourist price hike is often easy to spot: when you ask the price for something, look for someone who starts to say something, stops, thinks for a bit, and then tells you a price in a rather uncertain, questioning tone. Also, ask locals, read guides, and try to get an impression for how much e.g. a taxi ride ought to cost.

Make sure you don’t go too far. A desperate taxi driver at the end of his shift and who just wants to go home may take you from Lima airport to Miraflores for 10 soles, but he’s losing out by doing so. Don’t bargain too hard in Peru, it’s not the way here and it will upset people. 

The late arrival 

Tardiness is a way of life in Peru. If you want someone to turn up for something on time, make very clear beforehand exactly what you expect. 

The hidden clause 

 Yes, you paid for the boat ride but fuel is extra. Yes, you paid for the tour but a guide is extra. Yes, I said I’d take you to Tumbes, but we’re in Tumbes province and I never said I’d take you to the city.You just have to try to make absolutely clear what your terms are before you make any agreement. Generally, people will stick to an explicit verbal agreement but mess around with anything that you’ve left unsaid. 

The price at the end

If you’re getting a ride from someone, being guided around town, going along to a local party or whatever, be sure to agree the price beforehand. People will often try to hurry you into just going without arranging it in advance, but when they do tell you their price you guarantee it’ll be extortionate. Again, if the terms change part way through (for instance, if the place you’re going to is shut and you want the taxi to take you back home), make a new agreement for how much you’re paying. 

The loan 

Don’t lend any money to anyone, regardless. Maybe you think they’re your friend, but the chance to disappear with what might seem like a petty sum is often all too strong.

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