Every expat in China (or many countries for that matter) understands “foreigner tax” aka higher prices for foreigners. It’s infuriating and way more racist than the Jimmy Kimmel skit, but you just gotta buck up and hone your bargaining skills. Unfortunately first-time tourists at the Great Wall provide easy pickings for pancake vendors, China Daily reports:
Pancake stalls in the Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area of Beijing became the focal point of the media after visitors to the area said the stalls were pricing their pancakes according to customers’ nationality.
The Beijing Times reported that a German visitor refused to accept the banana chocolate pancake he ordered after the vendor charged him 65 yuan on Wednesday. A dispute arose when the vendor insisted that the German visitor buy his food because “it was made to order.” Police were called to solve the issue.
Reporters found that the pancakes went for 15 yuan to Chinese customers.
The vendor said that food sold to foreigners is more expensive because it is “tailor-made” according to their taste. There also were small price tags in English asking for 65 yuan per pancake at the counter window, though they were inconspicuous.
Honestly, any expat who’s lived here for even half a year is probably more fed up with fresh-off-the-plane laowai bellyaching about foreigner tax than they are with the tax itself. But out of the goodness of their hearts our experts at Shanghaiist have compiled some simple tips on how to avoid getting ripped if you’re a first-time tourist (since apparently many of you didn’t read your Moon Handbook carefully before coming to China).
1. Always check what the locals are paying first.
2. Negotiate a price beforehand.
3. If they won’t lower the price, start walking away, upon which they usually will.
4. If they still won’t and you speak a little Chinese, tell them that you know what the locals are paying (even if you don’t), and have lived in China for a long time and aren’t some clueless tourist (even if you are).
5. The rule of thumb is if a vendor’s smiling and chatting with you after the transaction, even if they compliment you on how hard a bargain you run, you probably got ripped. If they angrily hand you your change without making eye contact, you probably didn’t, or at least not as much as most tourists.
These tips are obviously only applicable at street food stalls, electronics markets, fake markets, roadside vendors etc, and not at stores like McDonald’s or Gucci.