While I love many things about Spain, I’ve recently come to realize that scamming is very present here, even in the unlikeliest of places, and that customer service (at least for the non-Spanish) is terrible. While I do get that the economy has been struggling here, it definitely doesn’t excuse the type of scamming that has happened to both me and some of the other Americans, nor does it excuse a poor level of customer service (I’d think it would rather motivate people to have better customer service.).
As far as the scamming goes, some of my friends went to a bar and were charged much more for their drinks than they should have been. Luckily, they noticed in time to avoid getting scammed.
I on the other hand was not so lucky. So my friends and I purchased train tickets to go to Cádiz (a beautiful beach city not far from Sevilla) for the day. When I went to buy the tickets, the woman working the counter didn’t even tell me how much they cost (From now on I will always ask, ¿Cuánto cuesta?). I had an idea of how much they were – around $25 or so, so I handed her two 20-euro bills. However, in return, she only gave me five euros and some change.
At first I thought that maybe the train was a bit more than I had thought, so I pocketed the money and let my roommate, Hannah buy her ticket. While she was in line, though, I looked at my ticket and discovered that the round-trip price should have been around 25 euros, but at that point it was too late for me to say anything.
Although it was only 10 euros, I still felt frustrated and appalled that someone would do such a terrible thing, especially at someplace like a train station (I get how that may happen at a dinky little tapas bar or something, but it definitely shouldn’t at a train station!).
This scamming has been the one of the only disheartening thing about Sevilla so far – the other has been the level of customer service in many places. For example, I went to Orange twice to try to get a SIM card (to two different stores), and both times they couldn’t activate the card and didn’t know why. They always just told me to come back the next day. So, desperately in need of a SIM card, I chose a similar SIM card with Vodafone. However, the SIM card is supposed to include texting, yet it isn’t working. When I went to Vodafone to ask about it, they simply told me that the SIM card wasn’t the problem, rather it was my phone and that I should take it to another Vodafone store. I tried the SIM card in my iPhone too and it had the same issues, so I know that the problem is the SIM card.
I definitely learned my lesson from this experience, and I hope that you do too! Anytime you’re travelling abroad, always ask how much something costs and always consult your ticket/receipt and change back before you walk away. That’s the only way to prevent scamming. As far as the customer service goes, always speak the local language of course (although that clearly doesn’t mean much to some people), and that’s probably the best thing you can do.