I hopped out of our rental car and first checked whether the meter was indeed at zero at the start. It was. “Full please”, I requested. The very friendly attendant started filling up and then asked me, with his companion, whether I also wanted the oil to be checked, the tires to be cleaned and a wash for the windscreen. I was – in hindsight intentionally – distracted by all this Spanish gobbledigook. The filling process suddenly stopped very soon at … already 100 pesos. “Oh, sorry sir, you wanted it full, didn’t you?” “Err, yes, I did”.
“Okay I write down the first 100 pesos and fill up again.”
So there it went again, from zero all up to 550 pesos.” Total amount, thus, 650 pesos, equaling 47 liters. Never had that much petrol, but, yes, the tank was pretty empty.
I reached into the car to get a 500 and a 200 pesos bank notes, for an expected 50 pesos return. Liz gave it to me, I handed it over to the attendant, waited for the exchange of 50 pesos and then was told that this was not enough. The guy showed me a 50 and 20 banknote, being the ones “I had given him”. I was rather confused, because I thought I had given 500+200, not 50+20. Did he swap the bank notes that quickly?
I discussed it with Liz, in the car, and she agreed that she had given me 500+200, not 50+20. I told to the attendant with gestures that I gave 500+200, but, not speaking English, he indicated ‘not understanding me’ me and suggested me to pay by credit card, as if I lacked enough cash money. He already had fetched the paying device. Rather confused, I admit, I refused and turned to Liz once again. In between Liz had counted the money in the wallet and we knew for sure that we had given 500+200, not 50+20, because we cashed money from an ATM just before. She came out of the car, and, speaking Spanish well enough, explained that we had given 500+200. Then the attendant’s companion showed up again and it was not until Liz threatened with police involvement that they changed the story, by explaining that the 50 + 20 was the exchange… the money I got back from my 500 + 200!
In other words, they backed out. They did not want the police around and came up with this escape. We did not ask why they offered the credit card payment option and why they he offered 70 pesos return if only 50 were required. So we settled the thing and drove off.
We thought we were rather clever how we dealt with it.
But then, when we came home, I checked online the exact size of the petrol tank of our rental Nissan March…. 41 liters…. and we were charged 650 pesos for 47 liters! The first distraction! Never got for 100 pesos petrol! We had been ripped off anyway.
Corruption Galore, Abundancia Corrupción.
PS Friends later confirmed that these things happen often, especially with non-Spanish speaking foreigners like me. What would the police have done, if called in? Fifty percent change they would have supported us, fifty percent they would have let the attendants get away with it, taking half the stolen money from them. Corruption is part of the Mexican fabric.