Jul 11 2013

Hoi An tailor shop scams: Part 1

Published by at 1:34 am under Shopping

If we were to tell you that upon almost every purchase made in a Hoi An tailor shop, 40 percent of the price you pay goes straight out the door into a third party’s pocket, would you be a little bit shocked? Or that the average price on cutting and sewing a man’s suit is just $8?

For the best tailor shop experience; leave the rose tinted glasses at home.

For the best tailor shop experience leave the rose tinted glasses at home.

With tailor shops outnumbering other businesses in Hoi An by two to one, it’s not surprising that it’s a brutally competitive industry. Gone are the days when it was necessary to have at least some knowledge in the industry to be able to set up a shop; why bother when everything is outsourced? And what does it matter if the workmanship is so poor that after one wash whatever they sell is likely to fall to pieces? That rich Westerner will be long gone by then.

For a $100 suit this tailor will earn less than $10. Your hotel receptionist - $40.

For a $100 suit, this tailor will earn less than $10. Your hotel receptionist — $40.

One of the worst scams actually happens before you even get to Hoi An, in the form of Westerners trolling internet forums. These people are frequent visitors or in some cases live here. Every time an unsuspecting visitor posts the question “Tailor advice – Hoi An”, ker-ching! Copy and paste, “We had a great experience with xxx, tell them the Smiths recommended you, and they will give you the best prices/quality.” This translates as a 40 percent price increase for you that goes straight into a lucky envelope for their return. Tailors are very honest with commissions.

Elbows out, look directly ahead.. check in.

Elbows out, look directly ahead.. check in.

The worst and sometimes frightening on the ground scam is taxi territory. This is where your driver will pick up a friend to help find your hotel; for the inexperienced, picking up a strange man in the dark along the deserted Da Nang road can be quite scary. But this friend will happen to speak wonderful English, and his sister will just so happen to have the best tailor shop in Hoi An. Or there’ll be a phone call that conjures up his brother outside your hotel upon your arrival… it all means you’ll pay 40 percent extra.

The same goes for restaurant staff, receptionists and tour guide recommendations. Sit opposite a tailor shop when a helpful guide drops in his 50-person cruise ship tour group and just see how broad his smile is when they all come spilling out having spent $100 each. Last but not least, if you are handed or even just pick up a tailor shop business card, check that it does not have a hotel name or initials scribbled on it. You’ve guessed it — 40 percent.

You really don't want to be paying over the odds for this uninspiring selection of fashion.

You really don’t want to be paying over the odds for this uninspiring selection of fashion.

While it’s quite possible a few good guys and gals don’t engage in this practice, it’s hard to tell who they are. So to ensure you avoid any add-on charge, once you have settled upon a tailor, don’t tell them your hotel and give a false name for your order — hotels and tour guides give their recommended shops a list of their customers names, saving them the effort of walking you through the door to get their cut. The price you are quoted will most likely not include the extra, then barter!

If you plan to get clothes made here, these tips on tailoring in Hoi An might help.

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Hoi An tailor shop scams: Part 1”

  1. NormCon 13 Feb 2014 at 11:49 pm

    So who does my 40% commission go to when I just rock up to a tailor and don’t give them any information about what hotel I am staying at?
    Surely if people do a bit of research before they can then they can avoid being sold absolute crap.
    At least Yaly, where I have had several things made and which are still going strong many years later, seem to provide good quality stuff and decent prices. Now I don’t know one material from another, however if I am happy with what I am given and what I paid for it then surely that is enough for me!

  2. Miss Con 14 Feb 2014 at 1:08 am

    No one – you pay 40% less for the tailoring – commission is only added to your bill if there is someone to pay it to, so if you consider and act upon all the information given in the post you don’t pay the commission.
    You are absolutely right on the research, but it can be a minefield with so many tailors and little time, a lot of people are left disappointed and quite alot of people don’t want to pay Yaly prices, hopefully this will help those people find something they are happy with given what they paid too.

  3. Dave HoiAnon 14 Feb 2014 at 4:56 am

    Miss C,

    If I were to tell you that every purchase you make at Walmart 40% goes directly into the owners pocket. No it would not.

    If I were to tell you that in Asda millions of dollars goes on ridiculous brainwashing adverts that tell you “every little helps”

    If I were to tell you that for every chicken sold in Big C, only 10% actually goes to the farmer.

    Look Miss C, everywhere in the world has different business practices. Do you know that salesmen everywhere get a cut of the price of the goods sold, double glazing 30%, telemarketing 40%, so what is the deal.

    You use the word scam like it is confetti throughout all your posts. You have typical foreigner fever about who is scamming you today.

    Miss C, life is not that complicated. Walk into the shop, get a price and if you want to buy then buy. If you don’t want to pay this price don’t.

    However….please please stop calling what is common practice in the western world a scam here.


  4. Loi Nguyenon 10 Sep 2014 at 8:08 am

    Hi Miss C,
    Can I ask you that How much did you spend on a dress you had made in Hoi An? 80 buds? Or less? Are you happy with that?
    And how much you would spend for that dress if you made in home? 3 times higher, or more maybe. So you are happy with that. Take it.
    I can TEACH YOU how to make a simple MATH:
    – If you said 40% gone to the third party, it means that 80-(40%*80)=48 buds.
    – The material cost 30% of the product, it means 48-(30%*48)=33 buds.
    – Fee for Ad 30%: 33-15=18 buds
    – The tailor earns 10 buds: 18-10=8 buds.
    – Business tax: 10% of 48 buds: 8-4.8=3.2 buds.
    – Staff salary 10 % of product of 48: 3.2-4.8= -0.4 buds
    – Shop rental: 5% 0f 48 buds: -0.4- 2.4= -2.8 buds.
    Can you do business with that?
    What you thought was absolutely wrong (or stupid ever).

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