From Costa Rica Travel Guide: Vacation and Travel tips
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Gringo Pricing- the seemingly inalienable right or practice of indiscriminately raising the price (often substantially) of a product or service solely because the purchaser of said product or service is caucasian.
Gringo pricing is a fact of life in Costa Rica. They think we’re rich; or at least richer than them, which may or may not provide the rationale for this behavior, it’s hard to say, but they really do seem to believe this practice is justified. Hell, maybe it is.
This is a much bigger issue than just jacking up the prices for the tourists in places like souvenir shops, hotels/restaurants, and tour companies- in these places it’s almost halfway expected. I’m talking about the prices for the gringos that live here, especially when it comes to legal fees, and ANYTHING to do with construction, from architects to materials, to labor costs. Scams such as skimming off the top or doubling and tripling the price are common practice here. One of the worst is when there’s an agreed upon price and halfway through the project unforeseen expenses begin to pop up. Trust me- it’s NEVER the original quote on anything. Many stores blatantly raise their prices for the unknowing gringo and a haircut that cost a tico 1500 colones ($3.00) will often cost you $10.00. And if you don’t know Spanish, forget about it, which is why many gringos use their tico friends to do their bidding. This is really the only way to get a fair deal, just make sure the tico is truly a friend, because unfortunately, the ‘friend’ could be in on it, just sayin.
If you’re thinking about moving here just know this is a fact, right or wrong. If they can separate you from your money- they will…. as it’s their inalienable right. Of course it may be your inalienable right to tell them what they can do with their inalienable right.