Most tourists don’t know the laws in Cuba. And one law in particular could save them significant amounts of money in Cuba. Because it protects them from being ripped off (gringo priced).
Gringo Pricing Scams In Cuba
The Law – All Prices Must Be Displayed
Cuban law states that all shops must clearly display the prices for which they are selling goods. When you walk up to a small kiosk or shop in Cuba you will notice that the prices for each item are clearly written on a piece of masking tape stuck to each display item. This is a requirement under Cuban law.
The practice of ‘gringo pricing’ tourists can actually be avoided by not shopping at stores that do not have clearly marked prices. Those shops, bars and restaurants that are not displaying their prices are not reputable. They’re required by law to have their prices clearly displayed.
What To Do If Prices Are Not Displayed In Cuba – Gringo Pricing
Let’s say you walk up to a kiosk to buy a can of beer or a bottle of water. And let’s assume you happen upon a kiosk where there are no clearly displayed prices. Don’t shop there. They are going to try to rip you off.
If you do buy something from one of these stores (or restaurants) and they try to charge you a ridiculous price and threaten to call the police if you don’t pay, challenge them. Tell them to call the police and snap a photo of the items without prices.
When the police arrive, that vendor will be fined. And the police will take a dim view of the vendor trying to rip off tourists. Because tourism is the lifeblood of the island. Tourism is Cuba’s major export.
Tours and tickets – Buying tourist activities in Cuba
However for tours and other activities prices don’t need to be displayed. When you do try to book a tour (in person) on the island the seller will take advantage of you and overprice their tour. Or they’ll sell you a ‘ticket‘ and disappear with your cash (common scam).
For tours and activities, use Civitatis (with a VPN in Cuba) and book your tours online. You’ll get a better price than buying a tour from a Cuban in Cuba. And all the tours are in English, rated by past users and the vendors identity is verified.
Avoid ‘Gringo Pricing’
I’m Australian. I’m not American and the majority of the tourists visiting Cuba are not American. ‘Gringo’ is a derogatory term originating from Mexico denoting an American.
Now, I’m sorry Americans but there are a lot of you travelling to Cuba who are so clueless that you make the rest of the tourist cohort look bad. Because the scammers so easily take your money it perpetuates a cycle whereby everyone becomes a target. You need to research and stop being ‘gringo’ suckers.
For the most part Australian, Canadian and European tourists have travelled widely. Cuba is not the first country they have visited. Heck, I’ve travelled, worked and lived on virtually every continent. I know a scam when I see one.
But the average American tourist in Cuba just wanders into everything. They’ve often travelled solely to Mexico or Canada before venturing to Cuba. That is, if they’ve travelled at all.
The tourist scams in Cuba are often clumsy. These are tourist scams perpetrated by individuals who have never themselves been tourists. And they’re the same scams found throughout the rest of Latin America.
Anyone who has travelled will spot these scams a mile away. Tourists with a little travel experience will know they’re being ripped off and react accordingly.
What To Do When Being ‘Gringo’ Priced?
If you happen upon a kiosk or restaurant that has no clearly displayed prices do not use that vendor. And be sure to drop a review on Google maps so others can avoid them.
If you are the sucker who has been walked to this vendor by a ‘friendly’ street tout who has ‘kindly’ offered to help you, the random stranger, find what you’re looking for then you should refuse to pay the ridiculous price they’re trying to charge.
These individuals are themselves breaking the law. And crimes involving tourists carry harsh penalties. Again, tourism is the life blood of Cuba. Tourism is Cuba’s major economic export.
The Government and the people doing the right thing and obeying the law all have a vested interest in protecting the reputation of Cuba as a desirable tourist destination. They don’t want you to be scammed.
For the most part, your ‘average Joe’ kiosk owner will not try to rip you off. But those who do are breaking the law and ruining the reputation of Cuba.
Don’t reward these scammers with money. Do challenge them when they threaten to call the Cuban police. And do mark them on Google maps with a negative review clearly stating the scam/s in which they are engaged.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made my Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba available on this website. And I would strongly advise you to read it before travelling to Cuba. It will help you navigate Cuba and Cuban society.
My Complete Guide To Cuba will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the most Complete Guide To Traveling Cuba here.