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Watch the big notes and the pause in change exchange

Consistent scam found throughout Europe - primarily Italy but also elsewhere is the handing back of change in reverse to what we are use to. The small coins first, small notes and then a pause - hopefully long enough for you to walk away from a line, and then the larger note. Watch for it.
Recognised first in cue for tickets in Venice. Long line lot of hustle and bustle. They short changed me 10 euros - I had stepped away, counted change and realised I was short, he had served two more people, I stepped back to the window and said "you owe me 10 more euros" and without even blinking he handed me my 10 euro note. The ease of return was what flagged me to the "scam" as opposed to an error.
And then I watched for it - anytime at ticket purchasing eg trains buses boats and even at McDonalds. I would have been fleeced a couple of 100 euros in a trip easily as they all count back and pause just long enough that you think they are done if you are not counting and paying attention.
Is the confusion of pace, foreign numbers, and foreign coins and language.
I believe they are likely making an absolute fortune on a daily basis. Everyone else I have flagged to watching this has picked up on same occurring.

Posted by
1564 posts

Rick called this out a few years ago. Easy way to make money.

Posted by
31219 posts

donna,

I've encountered the "slow count" several times in Europe, including at airports (kind of annoying). These days merchants don't have to "count up" to determine correct change, since the electronic cash register does it for them making the process somewhat "idiot proof".

I'll also have to be vigilant to watch for the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) scam on my next trip to Europe, as I'm sure I will encounter that.

Posted by
5652 posts

Had this happen buying Red Sox tickets at Fenway Park (Boston, USA). Good scam anywhere you have a lot of people in a hurry.

Posted by
1005 posts

Happened to me at a Starbucks near Reine Sofia in Madrid. Clerk tried to short-change me 10 euros. Always count your change--even at international chains like Starbucks.

Posted by
16817 posts

Last year in Italy, on a few occasions, a cashier had to go somewhere else (back drawer, back pocket, or somewhere) to retrieve part of the change, while I waited patiently. Their limited patience with you does not translate into more hustle from them. Make a habit of counting your change, especially if handing over a large note. See also http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/tourist-scams.