Travel expert issues warning over restaurants ‘overcharging on tip’

James Cole, founder and managing director of Panache Cruises, shared a warning of some of the most common scams that could catch tourists out. He said: “If anything seems suspicious and too good to be true, then trust your instincts because it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Tipping scams

“In some restaurants, especially in the States, they offer customers suggested tip options on their bill.

“Make sure to do your own maths and check if the percentage is calculated correctly. Some businesses try to scam tourists by hoping they won’t notice they’ve been overcharged for the tip.

“In some places it’s also common to already include the service charge on the bill. They usually don’t mention it which leaves room for double tipping for tourists who fail to check their bill.”

In some countries, such as the USA, the tip percentage is much higher than in the UK so tourists will need to check it’s been correctly calculated.

Free bracelets

“When you visit big cities in Europe you can expect to encounter scammers who offer to braid you a free friendship bracelet.

“They’re very quick and before you can say no they’ve already tied the bracelet around your wrist.

“They’ll cause a scene if you refuse to pay, which makes polite tourists feel forced to pay to avoid embarrassment. Don’t get fooled by free offers and don’t let anyone put anything on your body.”

It’s very rare that something is truly free so tourists should politely refuse any offers of ‘free’ items.

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Closed hotel or attraction

“Some trustworthy taxi drivers make their money by earning commission from bringing customers to local businesses.

“They’ll tell you the hotel, tourist attraction or restaurant where you’re heading is temporarily closed for a local holiday.

“If this happens, then just insist on going to the place you had originally booked as if it was really closed you wouldn’t have been able to book it in the first place.”

Tourists should insist on being taken to their original destination to avoid getting taken in by this scam.

Vehicle hire scams

“Be careful when renting a car, motorcycle or a jet ski, as the owners can blame you for damage you didn’t cause.

“They may even take your passport for guarantee and threaten to keep it if you don’t pay for expensive repairs.

”Before taking the vehicle for a drive make sure to take photos and videos to document its condition to avoid being blamed for something you didn’t do.”

Always take photos before driving away in a hire vehicle and make a note of any damage. If there are good public transport options in the destination, it could be an idea to just stick with that.

‌Tourists are most likely to fall victim to pickpockets at busy tourist attractions or public transport stations.

In these areas, thieves may attempt to ‘bump’ into people and take items from their pockets or bags at the same time.

Another less common scam is the ‘bird poo’ trick. In this scam, a tourist is sprayed with a click liquid.

A scammer then pretends to help them clean off the ‘bird poo’, using the opportunity to rob items from their pockets.

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