Thursday 6 September 2007

The Carteristas of Gran Canaria

Paying over the odds

It could be quite rough if the first new Spanish word you learn on the night of your arrival is “Carterista” as my friend in a vulnerable situation was lightened of a wallet but thankfully with just change and the hotel card.

However, having visited a number of shops in Playa del Ingles and Las Palmas one begins to wonder if they not all like those machines in amusement arcades that give you the impression you are in for a big win only for you to realise later on that all the odds are loaded against you to part with your money and end up with absolute crap.

I had already paid over the odds for some goods I needed and when the shopkeeper could not convince me to buy stuff I did not need he passed me on to a fellow shopkeeper who ran a leather goods shop.

My rotten brother

Now, this is summer, temperatures running at 35 Celsius or higher and I am supposed to be shopping for leather jacket – I think not and I did say, I did not need one.

By the time I had tried on the first jacket which did not fit but the seller felt was right, we had established he was Algerian and I Nigerian, so from then on, it was the familiar My Brother this, My Brother that, as we tried one ill-fitting jacket after another, some with buttons almost falling off – Why am I in this shop?

So the schpeel (Spiel as corrected by a commenter - Thanks!) went on about it being the best Mallorcan leather, the highest quality and so on, really, do I have “mugu” written all over my face?

At one time, I said, I would rather I had my friend around to see if it all really fits me, to which he retorts, they are doing 50% discounts today – that really had my antenna up, I am up against a wily confidence trickster and I better beware.

So, we finally found one that was barely comfortable, but I wanted to leave and my way was barred as I tried to escape his clutches for a jacket that now was to cost 1,900 Euros, then 50% slashed off to cost 950 Euros, none of which I was going to buy, then he suggested 300 Euros and I walked away as he cursed me in German to my hearing.

I was only a brother for as long as I was ready to be conned out of money, the moment his machinations lost their potency, I was a pariah – that really pissed me off, but it was evident that all they did was rip tourists off for as much as they can get away with.

Watch what they do

So, in Las Palmas today we had to get an extra rechargeable battery for our camera and before he had the battery out he was already saying the battery was better than mine, well the packet does say 4,800 mAh, but the battery was 750 mAH and mine was 1,200 mAh, for crying out loud, I did Electrical/Electronic Engineering but I do not have to walk away with a safety helmet.

He then got out a battery that was the 4,800 mAh and I got both that and a charger that was well beyond my requirements whilst suitable for my battery and paid.

Meanwhile, my friend was thinking of getting a watch and we decided on one which was taken to the counter for the manual to be united with the watch before packaging, I also picked up a watch and soon afterwards the manual for my watch was found and a big show was made of finding my manual, however, they could not locate my friend´s and suddenly one manual was about to be packaged for the watch, but I determined to check and it was the wrong manual.

I was incensed, how could I have just done business with you and then you try to use the confidence trick of showing you got my manual to pretend you got the right one for the other watch?

They really did not have that manual that my friend had to get another watch for which they did have a manual.

I would not go into any Gran Canarias shop for anything that is not essential or properly labelled more so, one wonders which is worse – the stealthy carteras (pick pockets) or the ones who run businesses as dishonest, unprincipled and shameless shopkeepers on the make.

Tourist beware!

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