I wish I could say that its uncommon for foreigners or tourists to be charged differently. All over the world people seem willing to take advantage of the newcomer, to see what boundary can be pushed, but never have we seen a tourist price so institutionalized.
Faranji pricing in Ethiopia is a way of business. While gringo pricing is common in Latin America, is generally understood that its a “starting” price from which to negotiate and almost no one will admit to a separate gringo price. That is just not the case in Ethiopia and often we’ve been presented with a bill that is different from what we expected. “Faranji price,” we’re told, as a matter of fact, expecting us to understand. Nothing frustrates us more than being charged differently because of the color of our skin or our nationality.
Recently we sat at an Internet cafe for a few hours, trying to catch up with some online administration. Although the price was set at .35Birr cents (about $0.05) per minute, when it came time to pay, we were charged .75 Birr cents a minute. Protesting the increase, we were told simply that .75 was the faranji price. Refusing to pay what we saw as an unfair increase due to our skin color, we argued that the practice of faranji pricing was unfair. “That’s how it is,” the cafe attendant said. In the end we refused to back down and after extensive discussions paid original rate.
What is right though? Should we act on a ‘when in Rome’ mentality and pay what is asked of us for should we stand up for the principles of equality and fair play that we grew up in and enforce in our own country? We’ll posted a new poll to this affect and are curious about your thoughts.