Beautiful jewelry but bad business practices.
I've been visiting Sayulita since 2003, and started buying jewelry here back when they first opened (2004-05?) under the name Joyeria del sol. I have purchased countless pieces of jewelry over the years for myself, and as gifts for family members and friends. I've also watched the town grow from a cash-only village with no ATM to the booming place it is today. I went in yesterday to purchase a couple of gifts and a ring for myself, only to have them pull a price-change on me at the register. Their prices are listed in pesos. But when I went to pay with a credit card, they first tried to charge me in U.S. dollars (without disclosing that they were calculating the exchange rate at 16:1 instead of the published 19:1 rate), then when I told them to charge me in pesos, their credit card machine was suddenly mysteriously not working. Shockingly, they had another method of payment available for credit cards, but the owner claimed she could only run it with U.S. dollars. The "other" method was Paypal. Paypal obviously does not only work with U.S. currency. I argued with her about the exchange rate, and she very rudely told me that she was "doing me a favor" by taking a credit card in the first place, and started giving me a spiel about what a cash-based town Sayulita is. False. Most places have taken credit cards for the last 3-4 years, including restaurants. I told her that I knew what she was saying wasn't true because I had been visiting Sayulita regularly for 13 years, and she stopped. She then faked surprise about the real exchange rate, which I don't believe for a minute (and I'm a lawyer - I get paid to figure out when people are lying). She agreed to a 17:1 exchange rate, which cost me about $20-$25 USD more than what I would have paid if she had charged me in pesos. I should have walked away, but the things I had picked out were primarily gifts, so I didn't. I don't mind a 3-5% surcharge for using a credit card (basically to cover the fees the merchant pays) if it's disclosed up front. Some places do that. I DO mind having a store owner decide she's going to single-handedly make up her own exchange rate and charge me accordingly without telling me about it. The ONLY reason I caught it is because I'm not as stupid as I (apparently) look, and can do math in my head quickly enough that I knew the USD amount was wrong at the current exchange rate. This means that she's been doing this to countless other tourists as well, most of whom probably never even knew. I'm happy to say that in all my years of traveling in Mexico, this is the first time someone has ever cheated me like this. And I note that the owner is not Mexican, and is not from Sayulita. In my experience, the people local to this town would never try to pull something like that. But as for this business, the jewelry is lovely, so if you're going to shop there, make sure you double check what you're charged. And the owner should know that she lost an 11-12 year repeat customer over $20. Because it's not the $20 -- it's the dishonesty that I find so incredibly offensive and, frankly, just disappointing.
Stayed: September, 2016
Response from Owner/Manageron 09-27-2016
First off I want to apologize for your experience. I want to clarify that what you are accusing us of is your opinion, and is perhaps a misunderstanding. I am the owner of the store, and have been open since 2004 as you mentioned.
I did not fake, cheat, swindle, lie, or intend to be rude to you in any way. I could tell you were upset and tried to diffuse the situation. Our mexican bank machine was not working yesterday, we tried two different cards and both received a response of invalid transaction. I did not fake this, I have no reason to waste your time or mine!. We have always listed our prices in pesos, since day one. It is our business practice here in Mexico to charge in pesos, although many other businesses choose to do otherwise. We have recently added a service to our customers of "paypal here", which allows our customers to pay in USD without receiving international service charges. Unfortunately we are unable to charge in pesos using "paypal here". We have an official store exchange rate, presently 16:1. It is common practice across Sayulita for businesses to choose their own exchange rates. I did NOT create an exchange rate in the moment, this is our standard rate. I do not check the exchange rate daily, and I apologize that I was not up to date on the rate that you quoted me, 20:1. I was truly shocked when you told me it was 20:1. That was not fake. I later checked and saw that it is around 19, which you state in your email. I don't know of any business in sayulita that offers that rate, but I am usually paying in pesos.
I do want to comment on your suggestion of offering a 3-5% surcharge to use a credit card, this practice is a breach of contract with Visa, and it is our policy to never charge for use of the credit card machine, whether it is in pesos or dollars.
I am truly sorry that you feel it is a result of my being a foreigner that you were cheated.
We are proud of our jewelry, our work environment, and our business practices. We do have specific protocols in dealing with accepting foreign currency (USD). Living in a multi currency environment can be tricky, but by having our protocols in place we try to navigate the volatile exchange rate as best as we can. We are always looking for ways to improve customer experience, and adding multiple ways to pay was a decision we recently made for just that reason. Out of this whole experience I have learned that it would improve our customer experience to post our store exchange rate in a visible place at the checkout. I would like to ask your forgiveness in what I feel is a misunderstanding. I am going to email you a gift certificate for $25 USD, and I hope you will consider shopping with us again. Thanks, Kimberley