Why do things cost more for foreigners in the Philippines than the local population?

I have seen it many times and even had people try to do it to me but why does it happen? A lot if it is down to the obvious, there are too many foreigners that either don’t know the prices or just pay it and keep their mouth shut grumbling about it later. So who would over charge?

  • Real estate dealers seem to be top of the list due to the size of money.
  • Taxi drivers.
  • Un-labelled shops and market stores.
  • Private sales such as cars.
  • General services, construction etc.
  • Fixers (e.g. for visas, permits etc.)

The other thing is not everyone is overcharging but I have experienced things like officials in Immigration who want over P2,000 to process my paperwork while you sit in their office where you could save your P2,000 and have it processed in the front desk especially now since the service is a lot faster.

Real estate I have had someone add P800,000 to a house price expecting me to sign and seal the deal there and then where I was going back to the UK at the time and with a house like any other major investment you should research first. Which is why I know they added the amount as it was offered to someone else a local seaman without the extra P800k. In other instances its reversal where an Australian in Minglanilla struggled to sell his house for over a year because he didn’t find out until late in the day the Realtor was sticking an extra P500,000 on the price for himself. Yep not happy with the 5 percent commission although he will take that as well he stuck another half million on same as another friend of mine in Cebu city who had P1million added to his. Moral of the story with real estate is I would probably say the best method of sale is selling it yourself.

Taxi drivers do it now and again I don’t get it every time I am in a cab here in Cebu but from people I know going to Manila say its a really bad problem there. When you arrive at the airport here though you will get people trying to cut a deal on the price with you in their favour. A friend of ours here was charged P1,000 for a journey I pay P300 (at P300 they have already added P60). Get them to use the meter if they done get out and into another cab. This type of over charging is only going to get worse so the more we refuse to do it the more likely its going to reduce. I normally tip if they haven’t asked for extra money and if they do ask they get the fare rate and nothing else.

Unlabelled shops and market stalls I find depends where they are. Here in Minglanilla I don’t get overcharged but I know in Colon street in Cebu City which is full of tourists and visitors its very likely to happen. How to deal with it? learn the prices a lot of the problem is down to the fact we don’t know how much a water melon is or a kilo bag of something. If you mention you paid “X” for something your wife or friends will quickly point out if its too expensive and how much it should have been. So next time your in the market if it happens you just say no and go to another stall. Unlabelled shops I just don’t use at all but it would be a similar scenario as I haven’t seen a store selling goods that are un-priced I couldn’t find in other places.

Private Sales are something that you would be surprised how much people have a brass neck over. Mike a friend of mine went to look at a lot on another island and while on the ferry the price went from P300,000 to P3million once they knew a foreigner was buying it. Same with a car he sold a guy turned up and said he would buy it but he owes his brother P10,000 at which point Mike asked “what for?” and the reply came “because my brother found it for me”. The obvious happened where the brother didn’t get an extra P10,000 unless it actually came from the buyer which I doubt. But I have seen price fluctuations myself which is why I text and don’t call people when buying something and confirm everything by text first. Email isn’t the same btw as they pickup the fact you have a foreign second name (happened to me).

General services such as construction are notorious for it and its built into the system. I know several owners of construction companies who have different rates at the hardware stores. What happens is they get an extra 20 – 30% added to your receipt when collecting materials, ever wondered why things seem a bit more expensive than your budget? Now in the UK its also done but the opposite way where your quotations will be the “retail price” and my prices would be wholesale which is different as its not actually being added to the bill the reduction is actually just because of being a regular account. Here though its added to the retail and throws budgets out of the original budget range.

Fixers in most cases just aren’t needed unless you don’t want to do it yourself when it would become more of a service. The “fake” ID’s and other paperwork I would actively encourage you to go the legal route the reason being you might as well have no paperwork than illegal not sure of how the government deals with such issues but I know in the UK having fake documents is more severally dealt with than having none at all. I get in a discussion with an American who paid $300 for a fake 13 (a) visa and didn’t like the fact that I told him getting a real one was cheaper he just had to wait although once in process there were no real issues and nobody wanting to grab his cash. The answer came “but this gave him peace of mind” which I couldn’t understand. Now the other thing with fixers even when just “organising things” they will often promise things they can’t deliver for example a judge was promised from Minglanilla to perform a marriage in Lapu-Lapu which judges won’t do in Cebu after a scandal that happened over three years ago which implicated a lot of judges so they won’t work outside their own areas in most cases. Thing is the fixer had promised the judge and all the wedding date etc. was set, being in Minglanilla we visited the judge with the bridge and groom to confirm he would do it and there was no record of even being asked. We took a quick drive over to Lapu-Lapu to organise it there ourselves. The “fixer” wanted P10,000 for the judge she couldn’t deliver for the wedding (she hadn’t told the bride and groom) but in Lapu-Lapu at the municipal hall it cost P100 and was all confirmed on the spot. Avoid fixers as much as possible, I don’t call people renewing visa’s etc as fixers as they are actually providing a “LEGAL” service.


6 comments for “Why do things cost more for foreigners in the Philippines than the local population?

  1. TropicalPenpals
    September 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

    . – Why do things cost more for foreigners in the Philippines than the local population?

  2. Andrew_wearing_well
    October 12, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I agree Matt Fixers are scum bags who charge you for things that either they cant deliver or you should get for free. They defianlty go after the white guys as we are easier targets as most of us dont know the system. The are people out their offering legal services with recipts and full documentatino which usualy you can do yourself but you may choose to use, but generaly speaking stay well clear of Fixers

    • Tropicalpenpals
      October 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Wouldn’t mind if its like a good accountant, they cost you extra but they actually save you money. Most of the fixers here seem to be wanting paid for doing the job they are supposed to or make a complete hash of what they are offering to do either way not worth the money.

  3. Ed Beyer
    January 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Golf coures are a great excample of over charging foreigners .i go to play golf with a filipina every week and i am charged 33% more than him for the green fee’s and also for the caddie i dont need .do you think this is a fair practice or should i contact the mayor .i live in davao.