Financial/Shopping, Puerto Vallarta
We first became aware of the Gold Card scam upon arrival at our hotel. We were so thrilled to be arriving at our destination early enough to take advantage of the day vs previous vacations where we arrived nightfall. But alas, upon arrival we were told that our room would not be ready for another 2 hours. As we turned from the desk a young girl came up to us & apologized for our inconvience & offered us a cocktail of our choice. Sure! She got our drinks, then we all sat down & she started to explain the layout of the hotel, some of the best restaurants she recommened & what tours were the best. Then came the scam. If we signed up for a day to view this new gorgeous timeshare property, not only did we get a gold card worth 10% off all our purchase's, tours & restaurants, she would give us a free massage? dinner? tour? what would it take? She kept on & on. We finally got away from her & got our room. For the most part we were never bothered about timeshare deals again at the hotel, but going into Puerto Vallarta turned into a nightmare. Everytime you turned around someone asked you for your gold card and if you didn't have one, yikes they tried to sell you the darn timeshare deal & promised you the world. You could be standing on the street admiring a piece of jewelery in the window & someone would come up innocently behind you & comment how gorgeous it was. Ask you for a cigarette, you complied. Have a nice little conversation with them about how nice the town was.... then boom, they hit you with the gold card scam. Such ugly business to an otherwise beautiful town to be constantly harrased like that. You didn't know who was safe to talk to & if you were lost, god forbid you asked for directions for fear that you might be hit up again for the gold card scam! Just a total shame. If you ever experienced the harrasment of the timeshare scam's in Cancum...amplfly that by 10 times & you have the gold card scam. You weren't safe anywhere! Including the Mariana where you boarded most of the tours.
the people in the downtown open market and the stores will take dollars, but they don't give you a particularly good exchange rate. it is easier just to arrive on a price in pesos and then get pesos from an ATM, a casa de cambio (money-changing stall), or a bank. ATMs and casas de cambio are everywhere.
Everybody at the major tourist hotels has some sort of time share scam going on. However, they also offer discounts on local attractions if you go to their 'promotion.' We said 'no thanks' for 3 days as the price for what we wanted to do, the jungle canopy tour, got lower and lower. Finally the price came down to 'free' if we would only sit through the presentation. Since breakfast was included, we only wasted about an hour, and the $80 apiece tour we got for free. Just be advised that it is a hard sell, and be prepared in advance to haggle politely with them for a few days until you get what you want. And don't give them your credit card number. They will want to see that you have one before the presentation, so cover the numbers with your fingers when you show it to them. They are a slimy bunch who can leave you with a bad taste for your whole vacation, but it is possible to beat them at their own game.
I noticed that a lot of businesses and restaurants did not accept credit cards. Even when advertised that they accept credit cards they may tell you that cash is preferred. Of course the hotels will accept them but of the restaurants I went to, only one took our card w/o a problem. I was a bit surprised.... Just an F.Y.I.
Warning!: Please beware of this shop? It has really nice art, and comes across as very professional - with multiple locations.
I purchased a sculpture and had it shipped to my home in the US. Insurance was purchased on the peice from the transport company (DHL).
The product arrived in peices. I submitted paperwork to DHL who informed me that the refund was to be paid to the SHIPPER - not me the PURCHASER.
I have not seen my refund from this shop after MULTIPLE attempts to collect! Do NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THIS GALLERY. Such a pity - I will probably never buy anything from anywhere in Mexico unless I ship it myself
If you want to buy any sterling silver jewelry and if you want to be sure you are buying the real thing, avoid buying it from the beach vendors. You never know if you are buying the real thing or just a plated jewelry, even if it is stamped. Buy your sterling silver from a store.
I wanted to buy a ring from a beach vendor and told him to go with me to a jewelry storeso we can have it tested. He agreed to this and when we got there, the jeweler applied a drop of nitric acid on the ring. The area turned green almost instantly. I gave the vendor his ring back and did not buy it since it was sterling silver plated and not solid sterling silver. I am pretty sure the vendor had no idea about it either since he was OK to go to a store and have it checked :)
On our first trip to Mexico we did find the various vendors rather startling because it was so different from home, but that's the point of traveling to foreign countries, isn't it? Now, after 11 years of visits to Mexico, it doesn't bother us at all. Just say "no gracias,"and they will stop and leave you alone. The fun of shopping on the streets and beaches in Mexico is the bartering. It's part of their culture, and if you relax and keep a sense of humor, you can have a great time doing it and get to know some wonderful people along the way. As a side note, if you want to make a friend for life, buy all the roses from the old woman or young girl who comes into the restaurant after dark. It won't cost you that much, and she can go home and get a good night's sleep.