An American couple visiting Mykonos, Greece encountered a horrible surprise when they were slapped with a huge bill for a small lunch. They fell prey to a common tourist restaurant scam that I’ve witnessed (and thankfully never fallen victim to) around the world. Here’s how you can avoid it.
Tourist Restaurant Scam: How To Identify And Avoid Wherever You Are In The World
It’s always the same. An aggressive man stands outside the restaurant or bar, cajoling passersby to enter. You somewhat reluctantly agree to enter. You’re asked what you want to drink. No menus are presented or if they are presented, there are no prices.
You ask about pricing and are told not to worry about it, that prices are reasonable. So you order a drink. Next the waiter will show up and encourage you to order food. Still, no prices. Maybe a “specialty of the house” will be suggested. You ask again about prices are are told that everything is cheap.
The food arrives. It may even be okay. You eat it. Later, you ask for the bill…and then receive the shock of your lifetime.
I’m thankful it has never happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East…and the old scam is making headlines around the world after a mother and daughter in Mykonos were handed a €598 bill for two mojitos and two crab legs.
When they protested the bill, the restaurant owner became menacing:
“I will call the police. They will keep you here and you will not return to your homeland.”
This restaurant is called DK Oyster. Check out their TripAdivsor page and you’ll see negative review after review after review. It’s always the same scam…and it is a scam. Defending itself on TripAdvisor, the restaurant said:
“However, we have often tried to explain the great cost of operating a business like ours. Would you ask Bugatti why they charge as much as they do? Would you ask all the luxury brands to justify their prices? You may opt for cheaper products and services. There is no monopoly.”
Here’s the amazing thing. Greek authorities investigated the business and found, apparently, that it is not breaking any laws. If that is the case, it seems to me a good reason to avoid Greece…or at least Mykonos. I wonder if the police are on the payroll?
When I was in Bethlehem, I thought I was running into a similar situation and only sat down to eat after negotiating for 20 minutes over pricing. The easier thing would have been to walk away, since there were no printed menus, but the sport of bartering was a bit of fun. Before the restaurant owner could hit me with a higher bill, I paid him in cash at the agreed upon rate at the conclusion of our meal. Thankfully, we were not blocked from leaving the restaurant!
> Read More: Negotiating For Lunch In Bethlehem
The solution is simple: don’t enter a restaurant or bar that won’t provide prices in advance, preferably on a printed menu. I’d go so far as to record the waiter on the phone explaining pricing if there really is no menu (and frankly, I’d just avoid the place altogether).
It’s very simple: don’t sit down in a restaurant or bar that will not give you prices in advance. There are so many scams around the world, but this is a common one and you’ll see it in the West, the East, the North, and the South. Be aware…unless you don’t mind paying €200 for a mediocre cocktail.
Have you been scammed at a restaurant or bar by the lack of menus?