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Vietnam forum

Overcharging of Foreigners in Vietnam is a chronic issue

Posted by martini on 14/6/2017 at 20:29

The Nexy hostel in Hanoi deserves its hight rating. However, a note of significant concern: I advise strongly against booking trips, holiday packages, buses, taxis or tours through the reception desk at Nexy without thorough research and price comparisions with any of the myriad booking agents nearby, one of them less than 10 paces from Nexy.
Nexy does not declare its extremely high markups - but believe me they are way, way too much.
Walk across the road - 10 paces - to Bamboo travel - and get virtually the same trips and service that Nexy offers for substantially less money.
I have seen criticism about Nexy's markup and I know from experience that the criticism is justified.
Nexy quoted me US$15 for a taxi to the airport. I refused to pay that and I protested to them about their exhorbitant prices and commissions.
I got a super clean air conditioned taxi around the corner, booked by a travel agent, to the airport for US$9.
Nexy quoted me US$13 for a bus trip. I got the same sleeper bustrip at Babboo across the road, again for US$9.
Always research prices in Vietnam and you will find they will come tumbling down becuase of the widespread practice in Vietnam to massively overcharge foreigners for almost every and any product and service.
Nexy responded to my protests by saying, rather defensively, that they offer a better service and better transport. That's absolute rubbish.
All they do a Nexy is phone for a cab or a bus reservation, as do all travel agents and hotel reservation desks.
When they offer advice for a trip, they are providing no better a service than any travel agent you walk into on the street, for far less money than Nexy charges.
Despite their high rating as a hostel, their practice of charging such commissions for making little more than a booking phone call, is enough for me to boycott Nexy next time I am in Hanoi.

#1 martini has been a member since 22/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by amnicoll on 19/6/2017 at 06:16

In my experience booking taxis, tours and the like from any hotel almost anywhere in the world will cost more than doing it yourself

#2 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 976

Posted by martini on 23/6/2017 at 08:36

I agree with amnicoll.....But the point here is not that Nexy adds what could be considered a "normal" commission for making a booking on behalf of a client, but rather that Nexy charges far more than any other travel agent or hotel I booked with, or consulted, for the same or similar trips. Their commissions are truly extraordinary compared to other hotels and travel agencies that surround them.

#3 martini has been a member since 22/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by TerroirTravel on 28/6/2017 at 13:55

What do you consider a "normal" commission? I've been on trains in Vietnam where I bought the ticket a few days earlier at the station, and paid half of what another traveler paid who went through an agency. Do the legwork, get a better deal. Same with buses- avoid the agent and go to the office.

I think the title of your post is a little misleading. Your problem here is with Nexy, not necessarily all of Vietnam, and I don't blame Nexy one bit for trying to get what they can, frankly. If you don't like it, don't get in a twist, make a better deal elsewhere, as you have done- what's the issue? I had a lady on Phu Quoc grab an item I was interested in buying, ripping the price label off and telling me the price was twice what the sticker had said. So I said "no thank you", smiled and left.

That said, yes, foreigners will often be charged differently than locals in many situations. But this happens everywhere. I used to work in the ski industry in the US, and I can assure you that I got a "local discount" at pretty much every bar and restaurant in town. It happens. In that situation would you as a tourist demand the local discount? Same same.

#4 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76

Posted by martini on 3/8/2017 at 10:16

TerroirTravel is, of course, absolutely correct when he/she says you should do the legwork in Vietnam to get a better deal.

They are correct in my view also in saying foreigners will often be charged differently than locals in many situations. That’s clear in Vietnam, particularly.

But we surely should not condone two tier pricing, especially when it is so significant and blatant?

Should one be overcharged simply because they are a foreigner anymore than they should be charged more for being male or female, or black/white or brindle or because they are from a different neighbourhood.

The problem with Vietnam is that the overcharging is wholesale rather than minimal and it is widespread: like several hundred percent in cases above the proper rate for food or transport, or whatever: it is far more than someone trying to make just a little bit extra from a foreigner.

Those overcharging in such a wholesale fashion are often the relatively well off, and I emphasise the word “relatively”.

They include the shop owners, restauranteurs and some hoteliers, not just the food hawkers one encounters on the streets.

TerroirTravel points out by way of mitigation that in the ski industry in the US where he/she works, they are the beneficiary of a “local discount”.

That’s not unusual but the example hardly relates to the situation in Vietnam - and it is not at all what we are talking about here.

That kind of discounting is just a form of discretionary largess given by friendly hoteliers, bar owners and others to the locals who work the same industry.

But if this ski industry discount was a general policy - or even arbitrary - whereby outsiders were charged more than locals simply because they were outsiders or “foreigners”, then that would be discrimination and therefore illegal, not only in the US but in most countries I know of.

TerroirTravel says he/she does not “blame Nexy one bit for trying to get what they can.”

Well, therein lies the problem: Nexy trying to “get what they can,” as TerroirTravel says.

The practice of “getting what you can” out of foreigners visiting your country is exploitation, particularly when it is on a scale as large as I and others - including TerroirTravel, apparently - have encountered.

Often in Vietnam the overcharging per se was not the issue for me, but rather the absolute insult inherent in the expectation that I would be so stupid as to pay, on demand, three or four times the proper bus fare, as happened, or eight times the cost of an ice cream in a shop, as also happened.

There may be an acceptable level of overcharging of foreigners in developing countries. And I have never minded paying a bit above the going rate. But in Vietnam too many people flog the donkey, so to speak, a bit too severely in this regard and they should be called out for it.

#5 martini has been a member since 22/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by exacto on 4/8/2017 at 21:19

So I guess you aren't heading back to Vietnam anytime soon?

I don't see any evidence of two-tier pricing in your Nexy example. It also sounds like you are assuming these things are based on race, when in fact I think they are based on economics.

Commercial purchases are a contract - offer and acceptance. If you don't like the price, don't pay it and go somewhere else. It is only in monopoly situations where you don't have a choice.

I hope you didn't let these seemingly isolated examples ruin your experience, but it sounds like you did. Get well soon. Cheers.

#6 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,814

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