Ok, another scam story. Now I had run across this scam before so I was more experienced how to act. I traveled by Uber from Cairo to the ancient city of Alexandria and was exploring the area. As documented in yesterday's post, one of my stops was Fort Qaitbey, a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Fort located at the Mediterranean Sea to protect the city of Alexandria:
For a small fee of a few dollars you can take a boat ride out into the Mediterranean to see the fort from an attacker's perspective. The boat ride cost depends on your negotiation skills.
I actually love to negotiate so I was not disappointed there was not a fixed price, but a suggested one. After a short "dickering" session (as my father, the king of dickering called it) was completed, we agreed on a sum equivalent to a few dollars ( don't remember exactly).
He had a small row boat and the short ride was to last 30 minutes. Here is my boat operator:
It's a row boat.
We traveled a 100 yards or so out into the sea and I took a few photos:
This was a popular attraction as you can see others doing the same.
We returned to the dock about 20 minutes after departing on this 30 minute voyage. I was fine with a shortened tour as it wasn't all that interesting anyway. However, it was about to get interesting.
Upon return the boatsman demanded double the payment we had agreed upon. When I argued, he said the price we negotiated was one way. He didn't speak English well so I think he was trying to use this as a reason for earlier miscommunication.
Well I had already encountered this scam in Beijing, China:
So I was ready for him.
I told him no, I was not going to be scammed. I didn't care it was only for a few dollars, I just hate scammers!
He argued, of course. Quite forcefully I will add. But I was equal to the task and refused to acquiesce. Eventually I started to walk away without paying.
Another boatsman, who I assumed to be his boss, stepped in and calmly told me I needed to pay him. I said I would if he stopped the scam and agreed to our previous price. By now there was quite an audience to this.
The two of them were now blocking me from leaving and demanded payment. Well, as I mentioned, this is a tourist area with tourist police nearby. I knew that, and I knew they didn't want a tourist incident on their hands. Since these men were trying to impede me from walking, I began to yell "Police, police!"
That changed the dynamics quickly. The man I assume to be his boss told the scammer to accept the payment I offered. He grudgingly agreed and the matter ended. Happily no police involved.
I expect he, and others, have tendered this scam many times. A western tourist is an easy target because they typically don't want trouble in a foreign land and what's a couple extra bucks to them? I expect it works 95+% of the time for them.
But this cowboy don't rope them horses. (Ok, bad metaphor). I would have gladly negotiated a higher price initially if he had held his ground during the dickering phase. But if he wants to unilaterally change the price after the fact, uhm, no. Not going to happen. I'm not a stranger to confrontation.
I don't want to use this incident to portray the Egyptian people as being this way. I did have the other incidents I documented with the golf pro at my Hilton Golf Resort hotel and the coke man in my Pyramids post, but they were the exceptions and professional scammers. I found the vast majority of Egyptian people to be kind and friendly. But you do have to be careful with these veterans of tourist attractions anywhere in the world.