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Rip Off Mauritius

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I've been wanting to express my sheer disgust at the immoral people in Mauritius who rip you off at every opportunity they get but I didn't have time to write about this until now. The title of this post has been borrowed as it reminded me of a TV show I used to watch in England called "Rip Off Britain" where companies and individuals who are exploiting consumers are exposed.

Let me walk you through my experiences first...

aerial price tag

The modest shop owners (ti commercant)
I needed a new TV aerial because my current one keeps losing signal and it was long due a replacement. I've been putting this off for too long now and while I was doing some errands, I found this hardware shop (quincaillerie) on the corner of the street. The owner told me he didn't have it in stock but he asked one of his friends to get one from another shop a couple of minutes away. He kept on making conversation with me so that I don't leave. Anyway, when his friend was back after 5 mins, he said the aerial costs Rs450. Now to make me believe I was getting a good deal, he said PhiliStar was a really good brand and he was searching for the same brand for himself (I've never heard of that brand btw!). He was selling other brands for Rs600 in his shop (which are now out of stock) and he told me I was getting such a good product at such a cheap price. He also said if I didn't buy it, it wasn't a problem because he would easily be able to sell in on. His two friends in the shop tried to make the deal sweet by telling how they bought theirs for a higher price. Now those are all sale tactics but for me I had a price in mind (anything below Rs500 as my brother recently bought one at that price) before I even walked into the shop. However when I came home, I found a price tag of Rs400 on the aerial. I was in such a haste I didn't notice that and obviously the owner has made double the profits on that item now.

The beach wolves (rapass laplaz)
I understand times have changed and what used to be Rs5 ten years back is now Rs25. Fair enough but a couple of months ago, I bought an ice cream at Mont Choisy and it was a whopping Rs50! I thought it was expensive but since it was a treat, I didn't think too much about it. Now the same ice cream costs Rs75. Yes everyone is trying to earn a living (trace so lavie) but come on, there's no need to come with ridiculous prices. You want to earn a little bit more with tourists, fine, but what about Mauritian rates? It's non-existant. The sum of the individual parts to make the ice cream will not exceed Rs20 (cone, ice cream, chocolate, peanuts) so how is the price justified I wonder?

Second, it was a long time since I've been on a glass bottom boat and I thought it would be exciting to try it again. So I asked the boatman how much it would cost for 2 persons and I was shocked at the reply - Rs1000 for 30 mins. Okay, the times of Rs50 per person have long gone but Rs500 each is extortionate. Am I to pay foreign rates in my own country? No way!

The rich hawkers (marchand ambulant)
While many people who shop on the streets are looking for a bargain, they might be better off buying in proper stores than spending their money on greedy hawkers. If you take the time to compare things, like for like, you will find in many cases the prices in actual shops are either the same or cheaper than the people selling them on the streets. I bought a kitchen sink strainer for Rs15 when it actually costs Rs5 only. Clothes are even more ridiculously priced; Rs1200 for an unbranded dress.

The tombstone maker (tombaliste)
A gravestone made of actual stone can cost Rs100,000 and a Chinese burial vault will set you back Rs700,000 on average. I wanted to get a headstone made and I called someone in the trade. He told me it would cost Rs10,000. After a few weeks, I went to meet him but he didn't know it was me who called before. His price was now Rs8,000. I said I wanted a very simple one and showed him a basic one in the nearby cemetery. I managed to get the price down to Rs5,000 and gave him Rs1,000 deposit. On the day he was supposed to deliver the tombstone, he called and told me he couldn't make it and I told him I have taken a day off work and he should have informed me earlier. I told him if he didn't do it that day, he would need to compensate me for 2 days off work as I will need to take another day off. So he agreed to get it done that day itself but he didn't turn up until 5.30pm when he was supposed to be there at 4pm (lame excuses). Anyway, it was a cement frame with a headstone which was supposed be rounded but he did it squared. While asking him how much the whole thing weighs, he let slip out only two bags of cement was used along with some gravels. The materials and labour do not come close to Rs2,000 but they charged an exorbitant Rs5,000.

My thoughts...

You might think the money we're talking about is negligible but when you take a small amount of money and multiply it by a large quantity, it becomes a significant sum. If you were overcharged Rs10 everyday for a decade, you would have lost Rs365,000!

There are also many other ways in which you and me are being ripped off whether on a low scale or high scale and sometimes we overlook those things as we think it's "normal". It isn't and that's why many other underserving people are getting rich instead of you. If people are honest in their work and make a profit, then fair enough but a lot of times we find ourselves dealing with crooks disguised as decent people.

Unfortunately I cannot name and shame individuals or companies as that's against the law in Mauritius but I've had lots of rip off experiences which I cannot share. If you too have been deceived in some way or the other, I'd like to hear your story.

gices Published 18 Mar 2013


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Khush_Mendossa 29 Mar 2013

Hemp is the solution. Take a look where hemp is used...the results are outstanding.

anonymous_4 17 Jun 2013

Have you heard that they're now thinking of removing "gullible" from the dictionary?

You seem, for a Mauritian", to be quite easy to rip off.

I'm a Brit, but never take anything at face value in MRU. I know they're gonna try to fleece white face says "sucker", so I'm 10 times as vigilant.

gices 17 Jun 2013

I find your comment amusing despite the sarcasm :)

No matter how vigilant you are, sometime or the other, you will be ripped off and there's nothing you can do about it.

anonymous_4 05 Sep 2013

You have to turn and walk away. When they short change you or "accidently" miscalculate, correct them and never go back. Its true that you have to be extremely careful to cover every possible scam opening.