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Railroad ticket change scam, Schiphol Train Station

Last May, 2014 at the Schiphol airport railroad station we were short changed by the ticket seller in the NS booth by 10 EUROS. He quickly counted out our change in 10 EURO notes, too quickly as it turned out, one 10 EURO note was missing as we discovered soon thereafter, on the train by then. Alway, always count your change even dealing with a uniform railroad ticket agent , trust no one.

Posted by
11497 posts

It's a good idea to count your change anywhere at all in the world - including at home. I wouldn't call this a "scam" as much as just a possible error. Busy people can make mistakes. Why assume that the agent was trying to pull the wool over your eyes? Maybe he/she was just tired or distracted?

Trust that everyone is human, and can make an honest mistake?

Posted by
7635 posts

Sorry this happened to you! I just had a great experience with a uniformed agent there last Thursday. I had printed out the schedule for the Schiphol to Brussels Centraal Station covering a few hours after we arrived at the airport as I wasnt sure what time would work best. He took a look and said, Oh this doesn't give you enough time to change in Rotterdam, I can do better than that and did work a better connection not shown online. Interestingly he and his wife go to Florida every year.

Posted by
3 posts

We'd like to also think that, but this guy was way too fast in giving change, other agents from the same NS railroad counted much slower. This is a professional scam artist at work, he knew what he was doing, we are certain.

Posted by
7641 posts

I count quickly too, but I also make mistakes. Heaven forbid someone would think I was a professional scam artist. If this is the 1st time in your life you have been short changed, you have led a sheltered life. In all the times I have been short changed, only once did it feel like it was done on purpose. All of the other times, it was just a simple mistake.

Money sticks together, which is often the case and you might end up with more than you expected. Would you then be the professional scam artist in the eyes of the cashier when they come up short at the end of their shift?

Posted by
7168 posts

Oh my gosh...he counts too fast so you know he's a scam artist??? And I thought I had already read all of the ridiculous comments possible here on the "Scam" forum. ha!

Posted by
740 posts

A feeling of certainty is not a fact. The person probably just made an honest mistake. Who knows, the OP might have unknowingly dropped a €10 bill between the ticket office and the train.

Posted by
1135 posts

The "short change" scam has been around for years and most travel books warn about it. Did this person do it? We can't know for sure, but I think this posters post is a good reminder about it. In all the time I have traveled in Europe. I have only had one incident of a "scam"...and it was someone "short changing" me at a parking booth in Assisi. Can I "prove it". Of course not, that is why they can do it. When I told him, he had a flimsy excuse (that made it my fault) and then produced the 5 euros that was laying on the counter next to him. He also was quite hostile and angry towards me (which I felt was to intimidate me from accusing him. I was on vacation and just wanted the money owed me). I make change in my job regularly, and of course mistakes get made. I am also a forgiving person when it comes to mistakes...but every instinct and common sense told me this was not a simple mistake. While we can't know for sure about this poster's case, a warning to others to carefully count your change is good. I have worked with people on their trip planning many times and always advise them to read the "scams" thread to familiarize themselves with them. I believe education is the best protection against them. It is the one "requirement" I have for my husband who hates trip planning. It paid off in 2012 when someone tried the gold ring scam on him (I was not there to see it, darn it). He was actually excited and happy someone tried it on him, which I am sure made the person very confused.

Posted by
15573 posts

I hate to say it, but I have had at least two "suboptimal" experiences in and around Schipol. Now that NS only accepts PIN&chip debit cards (pretty much need to have a Dutch bank account) and cash, it gives employees a golden opportunity to earn a little pocket money. Tourists hit them ATM first thing and end up with a bunch of 50 and 100 euro notes and then have to buy little items like a train ticket into Amsterdam. When visiting the ATM, specify an odd amount like 290 euro so you will get at least a couple of smaller notes.

Posted by
9110 posts

For Pete's sake, it was a guy with a cash till selling computerized tickets. The tallies had to balance at the end of the shift. What could he have done with it?

Okay, say he got it in his pocket somehow. Wouldn't an operation that large and dealing with that much cash have security cameras?

He wasn't a street vendor selling umbrellas or light-up miniature Eiffel Towers. He was a guy that had a salary on the line.

Where did the money actually disappear? Nobody knows.

Ludicrous.

Posted by
16766 posts

Thanks for sharing your experience. A busy place like Amsterdam airport station, and you coming off a long-distance flight, is a prime opportunity for small mistakes. I agree with your advice always to count your change and check your tickets before leaving the window. The slow count is a thing. I also can think of various issues I've had (and read about on this forum) that would have been avoided by checking tickets better at the window.

Posted by
3 posts

Note: two pairs of eyes watched the ticket sales person take our change out of his cash drawer then counted the change to us. If he made a mistake he made it twice. Our change was immediately placed in my wife's money belt at the counter, absolutely no error on our part. In our book this railroad employee is a crook.

Posted by
15573 posts

No, no, no. You're a tourist. The tourist always wrong.
Personally, I know where the term "Dutch treat" comes from.

Posted by
30932 posts

I also ran into some "questionable counting practices" at one of the food outlets in CDG last year. I'd have to check my notes for the details, but I also was convinced at the time that it was a deliberate act.

Posted by
20599 posts

I don't doubt that it happen but I think we are often a little quick to call something a Scam and a crook, etc. Take you time to count it back. When giving someone a bill, I always call attention to it. This is a fifty, right? Or a twenty? And I count it out by spreading the money on the counter if possible. I don't pick it up until I am sure it is accurate. Trust but verify. Mistake can happen. In that situation I would be included to believe it was an error. With an Italian taxi driver, probably not.

But for me this statement was equally troubling -- placed in my wife's money belt at the counter -- All the discussions about proper use of a money belt and it is obvious she had easy access to it. At least the rest of your trip went well.

Posted by
15573 posts

Unfortunately, Nederland Sporwagen only accepts PIN encrypted chip DEBIT cards. Or cash. So when you walk up to the window to buy a 4 euro train ticket with a 100 euro note, you might as well have a sign on you that says "Hi! I'm a clueless tourist and I just got off a 12 hour red-eye and my last stop was an ATM machine."

Posted by
9110 posts

I'm still noodling the logic and logistics of the original post.

When change is given, it is done with the least number of bills possible. Thus, with a purchase of any amount made with any denomination, the number of ten euro notes required for change is exactly ONE. Assuming the till was empty of twenties, there could be a need for three. Assuming the till was empty of fifties but not twenties, it's back to a single ten. Euro denominations are all of a different size so spotting a shortage between a potential three and a potential one doesn't take a lot of mathematical ability.

Assuming a very worst case (two four-euro tickets paid for with a hundred bill) giving out nine ten-euro notes would deplete the supply of tens if the ticket guy pulled the stunt with any frequency.

Next, we have to deal with the issue of stuffing a relatively small amount of cash into a money belt instead of stuffing it in the chump change, walking-around pocket.

How many ten euro notes did you actually get back? How much were the tickets? With what denomination bill did you pay? Was this your first time using euro? What other money was already in the belt? How did you know that bills inserted at the counter did not commingle with other bills? Was other money extracted from or inserted into the belt at some point prior to your noticing the shortage?

Posted by
11613 posts

I have been short-changed and the opposite (long-changed?), usually I can correct both unless I'm running for a train and leave the counter too quickly to count the money. I feel worse if I get too much back because I know the cashier has to make it up.

It's good to be slower and more careful, obviously. Mistakes happen, petty theft happens. In reading some of these threads I realize the heaviest item to pack is distrust/paranoia.

Posted by
12091 posts

Hi,

I agree. If you were short changed by one 10 Euro note, he knew what he was doing. That was intentional. To avoid putting up with that possibility, I went to the train station (Amsterdam) with Euro already in coins and ten denomination notes.