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Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

Durham, North...
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Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I was in Cairo last week on a business trip. My colleague in Cairo recommended a tour guide to see the sights for a day and lent me his driver. The guide was excellent, who not only explained the sights, but took me to a store when I told her that I wanted to buy some jewelry for my spouse (who didn't want me to take this trip, so I wanted to make it worthwhile for her). The guide told me that the merchant was registered with the Egyptian government and carried only high end legitimate pieces. I ended up buying a 18K gold necklace, ring, and bracelet for almost $4,000. The merchant told me that the items were below market value in the US. When I got home, my spouse was livid, saying that there was no stamp on the jewelry and that I had gotten ripped off. I called my credit card company, who urged me to contact the seller and come to an agreement before protesting the deal. I took the items to a jewelry store at home for an insurance appraisal (which I haven't received yet). I am sure that if the gold is less than 18K I can refuse to pay. But what if the value isn't as represented by the merchant? Has anyone had any experience with this problem?

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Manchester, United...
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1. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

This is an international rule: Never buy gold that is not stamped and never buy anything from any country you don't know about without shopping around.

I am not an expert, but I think that was over priced.

I must say I blame you for blindly trusting others in such a way. You could have easily went to the gold market in the City Stars mall and shopped around all stores next to each other and got what you needed without a guide. You might know that tour guides all over the world take commissions and are usually engaged in ripping off tourists, not only in Egypt, but everywhere. This happened to us even in Holland.

Durham, North...
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2. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I am afraid that you are right, Darsh, but I won't know until sometime next week when I am suppost to get the insurance evaulation on the jewelry. Do you have a suggestion/recommendationif the evaluation comes in at substantially less than what I paid for the items?

Vancouver, B.C.
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3. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I don't think there's any recourse unless you had a receipt or some certificate from the store stating what the value is. Even then you would have to fly back to Egypt to try to get your money back. This might come down to be one expensive lesson. You could also try calling your colleague in Cairo and tell him about the tour guide he recommended.

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I don't think there is any formal way to solve this problem unless you have a clear receipt showing what you bought for what price. Or at least, no solution that I know. I am not a gold market expert.

What you can try and do is to let your friend in Egypt try and get in contact with the seller and perhaps try to negociate at least a limited refund to reduce the loss. He can threaten to report the incident to the tourist police and file a case of mugging for the shop. If you have a receipt that proves the scam, this might be enough to convince the shop keeper that he might get in troubble if doesn't cooperate. It will help if your friend can claim he is "well connected" etc.

This is the only slution I can think of. If your friend is an Egyptian he will understand what I mean. If not, it will help if he takes an Egyptian with him to the shop to "play it right".

Durham, North...
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5. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I finally got my insurance evaluation of the jewelry, and was greatly relieved to find out that the replacement value was $750 more than I paid for it (plus the store had given me a mother-of-pearl box as part of the deal). I had fully expected to have a fight on my hands. Instead, I can now recommend the store: Merit Center El Bazaar at 49 Pramids St., Giza. They have a web site: www.meriitbazar.com. The store is very close to the Sphinx.

Cairo, Egypt
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6. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

thanks to God that you are more like at peace now and you made sure that you got what you paid for ......:-)

when i first read your Post i felt sorry really reading the replies about the guides policy and how some people see it and see what we do as a part of Rip off the tourist rather than making sure that the tourist is safe and secured and rather we are being helpful but as it seems that some don't know exactly that what some guides do the Job cause they care that much about History and Egypt reputation....

by the way as i am a guide for almost 9 years now so if i would plan to rip off some one i won't be part of it as in I'll stand in a shop and say OK rip them off.....while i am standing watching...cause part of what they teach us in the university is how to be of a help to a tourist....??? and you may go to Cairo university classes and see it for Ur self Darsh........

and thanks to God again that they were not over priced for what they bought....and it was Gold as in real Gold stamped for sure as the policy or the statement said about it as Gold not fake or mixed or what so ever...

One Guides mistake or greed makes all the guides all over the world alike....well thanks to God again and again that it went well and thanks Durhamtraveler for replying saying that it was what you paid for and the shop was recommended by you.....

Sorry that you had to go through some worries.

Durham, North...
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7. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I appreciate your comment, Egyptian Pharaoh and wish to tell you that my spouse is also very happy. :-)

My tour guide was absolutely first rate, and made the day touring Cairo, the pyramids, Sphinx, et al much more interesting than if I were just looking at the sites by myself (or with a large tour group). When you don't have a lot of time, a personal guide is invaluable in enhancing the experience.

And I really did have a great trip to Cairo. The people I met were friendly and courteous. I hope to do it again. If so, I will employ a guide and revisit the Egyptian museum, where I did spend several hours one afternoon by myself but didn't really get a lot out of it.

Cairo, Egypt
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8. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

I have been recently looking at rings and have also questioned why most of them are not stamped.

Have also seen that the government here stipulates it's own stamp which is like a small flat defect on the band..strange..is just a flattened area.

You have to shop around as I have seen huge variations in prices involving the same rings.

Also,18 K being the most valuable here,no platinum and white gold in many cases being very suspect.

The best purity diamonds are imported from Belgium and Holland.

Royal Taiba is a quality shop.

Am glad your purchase was well worth it,hope your wife enjoys her gifts..byeee

Manchester, United...
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9. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

We always have this problem in Egypt. If somebody criticizes a doctor, all doctors would start taking a "defensive side". If anybody criticizes a dancer, all dancers would feel they are targeted.

I don't see what is the need for a post defending travel guides. I don't need you to tell me that they teach you in universities to be nice to tourists because that goes without saying. They couldn't be teaching you to be otherwise. If you tell me they teach you to rip tourists off, I wouldn't even believe you.

All jobs in the world have good and bad people and the fact that there is a bad travel guide doesn't mean, you are all b*****ds and even the "possibility" that there "could be many" bad travel guides still does not mean that you are all bad people and still does not mean that there are no good and honest guides and still does not require a defense.

And as you showed me what you learn in the tourism faculty, let me show you a bit of what I learned in political science. There is no black and white for anything in the world. People disagree even on the existence of God. The travel guide who participated in the sad incident stated in this thread could be viewing the situation from the point of view that this is some sort of trade and that it is his right to propose the price he wants and it is the customer's right to accept or not and if the customer was willing to pay that doesn't have to be consistent with the market price. I disagree with this, but some people would think like that and will debate this with you and will consider the money they earn by such "trade" legitimate and clean.

These issues are sophisticated and they involve questions like: is commission acceptable or not? How much is the acceptable rate? Where is the border between trade and mugging? Who should check the market price before a transaction, the buyer or the seller? Should there be price controls? You can go as far as: what is the difference between a liberal free market and a socialist controlled economy? Do you think that any two human beings could ever agree on answers for all of these questions?

Now because a tourist shouldn't bother to consider such theoretical questions each time he heads to the market, I just found what I believe is the easiest and safest way to deal with this. I blamed the customer and asked him to take care in the future, I didn't mean that all travel guides are bad. I meant that there could be situations where travel guides will abuse a tourists (believing they are abusing them or believing they are making legitimate profit, it doesn't matter) and the best way to stay on the safe side and not to take the risk (even if it was minimum) is not to blindly trust a guide. This solution works all ways. If all guides are bad, it works. If a minority is bad, it works. If the majority is bad, it works and if all of them are honest and nice, it works equally. Simple and easy.

Sydney
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10. Re: Cairo Jewelry Ripoff?

Hi All,

I was interested to read this post. I have recently come back from Egypt. I loved it and can't wait till I go back. I also purchased an expensive piece of jewellery from a government store. Unfortunatley, when I had it appraised here in Australia, was told it was not what I had been told. While the gold is real enough, the stones are fake.

Further to other comments, I found our tour guide to be excellent! I think when I return to Egypt, hopefully it will be as a 'wiser' tourist. I have definitely learned an expensive lesson, but a lesson none-the-less and it definitely didn't sour my wonderful time in Egypt.

Bearing all that in mind, there are people willing to take advantage of others all around the world.

Cheers

Louise