Cancun is a very safe city, certainly safer than many cities in the US, Canada and the UK. However, just like any other tourist resort throughout the World there are a few people who will try to pull a fast one. While much of this is driven by poor wages and low living standards for the locals, the timeshare salesman who parks his Hummer or Porsche Boxster in the hotel car park every morning can be equally skilled at freeing the gullible of their hard-earned cash.
Here’s a few things to be wary of that I have personally experienced or am aware of:
Cancun Timeshare Scams
Every timeshare salesman will say they are not, timeshare is a dirty word within the industry and instead they sell vacation clubs, premium memberships or VIP packages.
If you’re approached in the street, from a booth, or in a restaurant and offered a free tour, cheap hire car or a free cash bonus it is almost certainly a ploy to have you attend a sales presentation.
The OPC’s, as they are called, are paid sometimes large sums of money for each person they get to attend a sales presentation. Once at the presentation you can be very quickly ‘broken down’ by high pressure, aggressive and very experienced sales persons. Unless you know exactly what you are getting into, be very wary.
Cancun ATM Scams
There are lots of ATMs in Cancun. There are two types, some are owned by banks and some are owned by private individuals. Always use the ones that are owned by banks for the lowest charges. It is not uncommon for the private ATMs to charge a very high transaction fee or very poor exchange rate and sometimes both.
Just like anywhere else in the World ATM’s in Cancun are not immune to being tampered with in order to skim your card or record your PIN number via a camera. Although this is not uncommon it is something to check for just as you should anywhere else.
Cancun Credit Card Scams
Another scam that can take place in any part of the World. Always make sure when paying by credit card that you are present when your card is swiped. If in a restaurant or bar the waiter should always bring their credit card machine to your table. Don’t hand over your card for it to be taken out of your sight.
Taxi Scams in Cancun
Always agree a price with the taxi driver up front, never wait until you’ve arrived before asking the price. Make sure you are clear on whether it is in pesos or in dollars. One person I know asked a cab driver how much to go downtown,the price was quoted at “50”. When he arrived he was told the price was 50 dollars and not the 50 pesos he was expecting.
Scams in Cancun Bars
Always count your drinks and examine your bar tab carefully, you may find extra drinks you have not consumed added. Keep an eye on your drink, a popular scam is to take away your half finished drink while you are not paying attention or dancing etc. You realize you’ve finished your drink and order another. Watch out for shot girls, they can be very persuasive in pouring multiple shots down your throat. Its great entertainment until you realize it’s several dollars for each poor quality alcohol shot plus a tip. The girls should always have a sign displaying the price, but this doesn’t always happen.
Scams in Cancun Restaurants
Check that the tip is not already included on the bill you receive before tipping further. Very few restaurants include the tip within the bill, but for the few that do it can often be hidden and easily missed. Examine your bill for superfluous items that were ‘mistakenly added to the wrong bill’.
Scams in Cancun Shops
Always check your change, particularly if using dollars to pay for something and receiving your change in pesos. Also, if you are buying multiple items where a single item is scanned and then the cashier inputs the number of items check that the cashier charges the correct number. On more than one occasion I’ve purchased say 6 beers and 8 or 10 have been charged for.
At Cancun pharmacies in the Hotel Zone some cashiers will try to take advantage by overcharging for medicines and tablets. Here’s a little secret. Every package of pills or medicines has a price printed on the packet. This price is a maximum price and it is unlawful for the pharmacy to charge in excess of this price. Often the price is small and difficult to read, often it is imprinted on the packet rather than printed but it is always there.