Ripping off Expats in China?
Imagine you were a repairman with a small shop. Someone walks up to you, describes in full detail what they want (with a very clear sketch from his girlfriend that makes things even clearer). Yet, because he is a foreigner, you decide to charge him 25 times the price a fair repairman would charge to do twice the work (ie 50 times the price).
Does this make any sense at all? It doesn’t to me either, yet in China, it can and does happen. It’s hard to imagine this EVER happening in the States. No one would be stupid enough to ask for a price that only a mentally challenged person would accept. Not unless they didn’t want the business at all.
Getting Ready to Move to Shanghai
As I prepare to move from Shenzhen in Southern China to Shanghai further north, my girlfriend and I have been getting our place fixed up to make it more likely that our Hong Kong landlord will refund a small portion of our outsized deposit (we are breaking contract early). Part of this process is replacing a small glass door for a shelf that had broken earlier in the year.
Of course, doing anything in China takes way longer than it should. First we called our apartment complex’s management office and had someone take a look at it. He told us there was someone who specialized in glass things in a shopping center in Dongmen, Shenzhen. I went there and asked, but of course they didn’t have anything there. Turns out he meant near the shopping center (but did not say this). So off to find a glass repair shop.
It turns out that there were glass repair shops all around where I live. It seems as if glass repair is a fairly profitable business to be involved with in China. Yet it took a few minutes to find the first one.
Stupid Enough to Ask for the Moon
I talked to five people at this shop before one seemed like they were willing to do it, and then asked the price. The dragging out of the process made me feel uncomfortable and I knew I wouldn’t get a good price, but this guy asked for 1500 RMB. 1500 RMB!!! Was he crazy? I told him off several times and told him that no one would be stupid enough to have him replace a tiny glass door (53x44x5cm) for this much money. Right as he opened his mouth to justify his ridiculous price, I walked off. Although many people in China will jack up the price on (Chinese speaking) expats if they get the chance, I knew I could find a far better price.
The next shop sent someone home with me right away without talking about price (and in quick fashion). On the way I was friendly to the young guy, and after he saw the job, he offered to replace both doors for 60 RMB (with no negotiation necessary).
How is it that a Chinese person, or anyone for that matter, would think an expat was stupid enough to pay 25x the going price for half the work? Needless to say, this was absolutely ridiculous. Less business for people like this.
Have you ever had anyone try to charge you 25x or more of the actual price of a good or service? What’s the most someone has tried to take you for?