Scams in Prague
Prague, like all big cities, has problems with crime. There is
not any big crime boom but carefulness is always wise move. Here’s
some word of warning for you who are coming to Prague.
When in Czech, it’s custom in hospoda-restaurants to put
all orders of the whole table on the same note. In some cases
this note also serves as a bill. Some scammers take use of this
and act as waiters asking payment. If they cannot show you PRINTED
receiver, you don’t have to pay the bill. Well, some restaurants
don’t use printed receivers, so it’s always recommended
to check if the bill is proper from the staff. The problem appeals
especially during ruff ours.
It is always stupid to pay the bill with out checking it first
thoroughly because especially in tourist area there could be all
kind of weird fees in your bill, like from ketchup, forks, live
music, salt, pepper, the dentist fee of the cousin of next doors
lady, etc. You should never pay this kind of fees, if they are
not mentioned in the menu. Service fee means that the restaurant
has already decided that their service is worth tipping so there’s
no need for extra. Some countries like to let the customer decide.
Places to get scammed No 1: Old Town Square
There is problem in Prague, especially at down town, with honesty
of official and unofficial moneychangers. Official change places
might give different rate outside than the final rate is. Very
few tourist even notice and from those who notice, few come back
claiming their money and those few who do, will get nervous breakdown.
Like it’s impossible to cancel the change, even they have
made definitely a mistake. They might offer to buy them back,
so you might end up experiencing how a hundred turns up to a twenty.
They might also claim outside that the change is commission free
but in spite of that there will be fees in your bill camouflaged
into various small fees. The state and the city of Prague do nothing,
as they are not breaking the law. On the other hand Czechs don’t
really care even though some tourists get scammed. We do not recommend
money change in Prague. If you do so, you should always ask before
the payment how much you get and check it with your cell phone
calculator. In that stage it easy to say bye-bye to the scammer.
There is also unofficial money scammers, those you should really
avoid. They come to you at streets and instead of Czech crowns
you’ll get Bulgarian leva. There is quite big difference
between their rates. The 2000 leva bill looks very similar like
Czech 2000 crown bill. These scammers hang around official change
places and might give you “excellent rates”. Best
way to get local money is to withdraw it with credit card from
automats that are numerous around the city.
Some scammers offer houses to rent even though they don’t
have right to rent the apartment in the first place, so it is
wise to check their rights or you might end up getting evicted
before you know. We even know a case when the customer vent to
his new apartment and found it full of drug users. It was a bit
hard to get them out. So you should at least check the place before
paying. Few Finnish students paid one month extra and never got
the keys. The same rent scammer still lives in that apartment.
Police was helpless, as it was matter of contract violation.
Places to get scammed No 2: Charles Bridge
Few years ago there was a big problem in metros, trams and buses
to have face inspectors. They had face badge that they quickly
showed and those with or without ticket got some extra fees. The
picture of the real badge is found on bulleting board of every
metro station. These fellows have been quiet for some time now.
The rumour tells that they got beaten up by the official inspectors
and left the city. Even though, it is wise to be careful, although,
when you come up with six inspectors heighten two metres and weighting
over hundred kilos, I would advice you to give your ticket to
them, no matter if they are faces or not.
Prague is famous for her taxi scammers. There is not one taxi
organisation in Czech like in Finland and those who are driving,
well, they varies. During this year the problem has been corrected
quite a bit. Especially after mayor of Prague dressed up as tourist
and took few taxi from the airport. In first one he turned up
paying six times of normal prise. When he wanted to pay in euros
after his second trip, the prise was tripled from the crown prise.
It is best to agree the prise in forehand. Even better is to
let someone local fix the prise, like the info lady at the airport.
When you order a taxi from for example very trusted AAA Taxi Company,
you’ll hear the prise in phone, if you know the starting
point and the arrival point. Basic rule is that 30 euro (=900
crown) almost gets you from airport to Czech border, so it’s
not worth paying more then that.
Grocery store scammers
Czech officials made big inspection to the grocery stores this
spring. More then every second store had some problems with prises
told and paid. Especially sale prises were not noticed and the
customers paid the normal prise. So the only way is to calculate
your final prise in your head. Czechs practise calculating in
head really much in schools, so they are pretty good at it and
these kind of grocery calculations are child play to them, unlike
foreigners just passing by. We’ve also heard that sometimes
you don’t receive right amount back in supermarkets, so
when you check the money so that the saleslady can see it, you’ll
might suddenly end up with more money on the table.
The number of pickpockets has been increased in Prague, as the
number of tourists has increased. They have also become cleverer
and started to dress like tourists, so that they would become
invisible. Very common way is to jam the exits in trams and helpers
behind can empty the pockets and rug sacs. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP
YOUR VALUABLE IN FRONT POCKETS AND RUG SACS IN FRONT. Making crowd,
jamming and pushing are clear signs of pickpocketing. They especially
like the Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge but also tram
number 22 is their favourite places.
Places to get scammed No 3: Crowds
As there is so much crime in Prague, there must be also those
who fight against it. Back in Finland we call them as ‘police’
but I don’t know the Prague name for them. Local word ‘police’
means more like a corrupted scammer. One journalist did an experiment
with local police. He (with his friends I suppose) returned about
ten wallets in to the police station, claiming them as founded
ones. The owners went to the station next morning to claim their
belongings. It turned out that some of them were lost over night
and those that were still there were with out money.
One trustable rumour tells that many of those police candidates
who weren’t approved in the Czech countryside, became police
in Prague, as there is lack of polices and it’s easier to
get in. So all the best have been selected here. When we discussed
with locals their attitude towards the local police seems to be
the same regardless of their age and sex. The reaction surprised
us because we haven’t got any problems with the police,
but they say their reputation is well deserved. May it turn out
any way, it is recommend that when you see officers, to avoid
various tickets, it is wise to slip away very smoothly and get
as far from them as you can.
On the other hand, if you happen to need the officers, it’s
better think twice before you’ll make up your mind whether
to call to police or to Igor. Both has it down sides but the second
one would probably get it done and get it done faster. There are
two Igor-organisations working in the Prague at the moment, so
you even have a chance to choose. There was a third one but the
two other sent him to Budapest. If you like to contact those who
are still here, you might consider start looking from Karlovy