Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Money scams at home and abroad

Going to any foreign speaking country with a different culture to your own, brings risk.
The biggest and most probable of those risks is that you will get fleeced for money.

Egyptian pounds
(c) fifiheavey
You will hand over too much money for services or goods. It may be by mistake or it may be that you want to avoid any international catastrophes.

Egypt is one of these countries where its inhabitants are professionally qualified to rid you of your money. And lucky for you they take any currency you have!
I am not talking about pick pockets here, no my experience of Egyptians is that they rather to politely ask you for your cash. Maybe for a tip or perhaps for some item that you do not want.

I didn't want a papyrus painting. I wanted to see the pyramids and go into the Egyptian museum and see the the Khan Ali-Kalili market. I also wanted to experience real Egyptian culture.
I did all of those things but I also bought a papyrus painting and some essence. I could have said no, I could have just walked away, at no point did I feel my safety was in danger - but still I felt pressured, I felt guilty and in the end I bought a painting.

Khan Ali-Kalili market, Cairo
(c) fifiheavey
My first 24-48 hours in Cairo were very expensive.
The main reason for that was it was my first time in Egypt and I stupidly told people that.
It is the first question Egyptians ask tourists. And the reason is if you say no then you probably know better than to trust them, but if you say yes – they have you!
So after 48 hours I was angry, I was resolved to be rude if I had to, to avoid spending unnecessary money on things, services I did not want.
And I mastered it, I haggled for my life, I walked away, I said 'NO' a lot and even tried to turn a money trick back on a native. I was a pro!

But then I got a huge shock, I had been fleeced for money long before I entered this new culture.
I was “robbed” at London Heathrow Airport.
My next door neighbours in the UK, of similar culture and the same language had tricked me out of so much more money than a hard working taxi man in Cairo ever could.

My flight to Cairo stopped over in Heathrow from Dublin. At the airport I realised that we would be landing in Cairo after midnight and was unsure if airport banks and exchanges would be open at that time. So I picked one out of the hundreds of currency exchanges shinning in the departure lounge in Heathrow.
I handed over €400, the nice smiley man told me an extra fiver and they charge no commission. Bargain. I did that and he handed me 2,600 LE (Egyptian pounds). It was only when we exchanged money in Cairo that we realised I had been squandered out of €100 in the first exchange because the nasty bankers had converted my money to sterling before moving it on.

Moral of the story: You don't need to go to Egypt to be fleeced, but at least I got a papyrus painting while there!
The Final Judgement -  the most famous scene to be duplicated on papyrus.

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