Highway Robbery in Mexico

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Money by Nate Robinson via DeviantArt
Maybe it wasn’t exactly highway robbery but we were definitely swindled. It was a bad business transaction gone awry. Our first yucky experience as foreigners with no leg to stand on. All we needed were two new tires for our truck. We now have four new tires for our truck. Two that are the wrong size. They aren’t even the same model and one of them looks slightly used. Let me start at the beginning.
Brad compared tire prices at several shops. Llantas Torres is a hole-in-the-wall shop on a busy, central street. Their price was reasonable so Brad ordered the tires and made an appointment to have them installed. Brad dropped off the truck for a few hours and when he returned he saw that the tires they installed were the wrong size. Llantas Torres said under their breath, “He knows the tires are too small.” They thought Brad couldn’t understand them. That is kinda funny now. Brad told them they needed to remove the tires and put the right size on, or they needed to put the old tires back on. They refused and wanted our money. Things went downhill from there. Brad said he was not paying for the wrong size tires. Llantas Torres still thought that Brad could not understand them because they then whispered, “Let’s take our tires and drop the truck. Then he will have to pay us and we will have the tires and the truck.” After that line Brad walked over to the truck and pulled the jack out from under it. He told them not to touch our truck and he drove to another auto body shop near our house.
This shop had the correct size tires so they installed them and aligned our vehicle. While Brad was waiting Llantas Torres called. They went downtown and filed a claim with the police department against us. Brad drove back to their shop to return their tires and settle the matter. They refused to accept them and just wanted our money. They told Brad that because he was a foreigner and they were Mexican, the police would not help us. The claim they filed had the wrong address and phone number so Brad seriously thought about giving them the tires and driving off. But for the safety of our family he decided to pay them and let it go. Llantas Torres, thieves that call themselves a business, cheated us out of 4300 pesos. Now that they had our money they were very amiable. They gave us a receipt and said they would dismiss the claim with the police.
This was a stressful day for my husband, causing him a few sleepless nights. I am thankful that Brad had a friend with him during this crazy situation. David is Mexican and fluent in Spanish. He was a big help. For the final conversation with Llantas Torres, Brad stayed in the truck and David hassled with them. Probably a very good idea. It is difficult to turn the other cheek when someone wrongs you, so I am proud of Brad for keeping his cool and not knocking the socks off these older men. I don’t know if I would have handled it so well :-{
We look back and think of things that could have been done differently. “There should have been something in writing in the beginning, someone should have stayed with the vehicle, or we should have gone to the police station before getting the tires replaced and filed our own report.” But it’s a little late now to look behind and stress over the “should haves and could haves”. Time to move on and let it go. Rehashing the past doesn’t solve anything, although that is easier to say, then to do. I think feeling helpless is the worst part, although I don’t think enacting revenge would feel that great either. Not when you have principles and a conscience.
 I love Mexico. It’s beautiful and warm. Most Mexicans are friendly and interested in the Bible, and this is a big reason we chose Morelia. But here’s a free tip for anyone thinking of immigration… Moving to Mexico has been difficult in that we are outsiders. We are different and we stand out from the crowd. This isn’t the first time people have taken advantage of us. At the markets, some deliberately raise the prices because we are gringos. As a family we feel eyes upon us wherever we go. Sometimes people are just curious and other times they see an opportunity. I think you have to smile and seriously not care about being weird. I suppose this happens all over the world, no matter where you move or where you are from.
One more thing… many people have the misconception that gringos are rich. We are NOT rich. Well…. maybe we are rich in love, laughter and insanity, but those are the best things to have much of :-) Signing off, Tina
UPDATE 8/14/14: When we came home from Belize in May we had an appointment with Profeco, the consumer department in Morelia. They helped us get our money back from Llantas Torres in exchange for the “too small” tires. So it all worked out in the end :-)

4 thoughts on “Highway Robbery in Mexico

    • Tina Ernspiker says:

      We contacted Profeco, thanks to your suggestion. We have a court date with Llantas Tires on March 27th. We are not sure what the outcome will be but I will keep everyone posted! Thanks for reading!

    • Tina Ernspiker says:

      The court date was moved to this morning and guess what? We won! We returned the wrong tires to them and they gave us our money back and apologized! Thanks again, Sergio!

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