Updated: Nov 9, 2022
Too often our appearances do not really reflect who we are as much as who we would like to become-- an elusive other person we seek with some clandestine hope and even some fear when we peer into the mirror. As T.S. Eliot wrote, " We find time to prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet..." But if there is a measure of security in such harmless deception, there is a degree of real power to be gained in remaining ourselves, in a simplicity that can lure others into thinking that we are simple travelers, faces readily lost in the crowd. This is optimistically and romantically how I view humanity. The harsh reality is that more often than not, this is only wishful thinking.
I have no tolerance for being hoodwinked and bamboozled--who does? Perhaps you've encountered being bullied or discriminated against? Well, you are not alone. Plenty of folks have been sold a false bill of goods and/or have been generally mistreated by a business or service provider here in Mexico.
One area of significant consumer concern is unethical and/or unprofessional conduct of a small handful of local real estate agents. I have a close friend who has lived here for a few decades. She owns and operates a successful business and has a keen understanding of the Los Cabos housing market.
Here's a cautionary tale of being blacklisted by a rental home "agent" who held a long unreasonable grudge toward the client while attempting to discriminatory sabotage the clients rental process. After meeting the "agent" via facebook by responding to rental home available advertisement, the client scheduled a meeting to view the property and meet the agent for the first time. Upon viewing the property, it was not exactly what the client had envisioned and was not certain about moving forward, however, the agent insisted that she sign immediately, even though she still had questions and needed to negotiate an arrangement for furniture with the owner. As a result of feeling pressured by the agent and no flexibility from the owner, the client decided to go in a different direction and continue the rental home search.
The agent did not take so kindly to being let down and passed on by the client, that the agent began to fabricate stories sharing them with other rental home agents to block the client from seeing other properties as a punishment. Thankfully after parting ways with the disgruntle agent and working a close friend to help her navigate the rental market, she ended up with an ideal property, but it wouldn't be long until she had to run into the same agent in the rental market YET AGAIN.
Two years later her landlord doubled the rent from $2,200 USD to over $4,000 USD, so she decided to look for new digs. Like most people, who work and live in Los Cabos full time, she was looking for a safe, clean and comfortable condo/villa in the neighborhood of $2,400 USD a month. Harder said than done in this stagflation market, as many real estate companies tend to be more focused on high dollar inventory for vacation rentals or home sales. Alas, the same unsavory agent resurfaced, her spiteful resentment still intact.
"I could not believe that the same agent was still upset because I didn’t sign with her the first time. She felt offended and she began to tell other aspirational agents to not work with me and attempted to blacklist and discriminate against me from showing and renting home in Los Cabos," my friend told me adding "It was so obvious that her hatred of me and my decision to not work with her for whatever reason is purely discriminatory. I reported the incident to PROFECO. They did respond back to my email stating they received it and have sent it over to the immigration department that handles all the affairs with foreigners. It’s unfortunate that a place we want to be by choice has people that behave this way and unprofessionally".
PROFECO has a proven track record. According to the institution's data, out of the 110,000 complaints taken in annually, there is a settlement reached in favor of the consumer in 81% of the cases.
Clearly it is in nobody’s interest to take advantage of tourists and/or expats who call Cabo home. For example, requiring a minimum purchase to hold a table in a restaurant or being told that in order to have a seat at the bar you must order food is illegal and according to the law can’t be enforced.
Mexico is often criticized for a lack of consumer protection and that is a formula for disaster especially when it comes to tourism. The marketplace is crowded with competition from other tropical paradises that offer all the spoils and splendor that Mexico provides with a safer and better reputation for less problems. This country is hemorrhaging equity.
Timeshare violations-- this is especially critical information for visitors. Mexican law allows five business days to cancel a timeshare/vacation ownership contract after you have signed it. If you change your mind about the purchase within five business days, notify the developer by email and certified mail. If your cancellation is not resolved, you will need to file with PROFECO.
Mexico has been too shortsighted and held back by not thinking of a more long-term strategy. There have been too many unnecessary complications and too few solutions. For starters, it’s imperative that fixing these problems rather than reacting to them will be critical if the country is going to continue to make significant strides in tourism. It's important to probe for solutions to the problems that threaten the health of a country that can no longer afford to rest on its laurels.
Some might say that it’s improbable or even impossible, but I am hopeful that the current situation can improve. If Mexico is committed to putting its assets towards curbing unethical business practices, they can continue to prosper and thrive on the world stage as the ultimate tourist destination. I'm encouraged by the progress PROFECO has engineered, but there is still a VERY long way to go.
If you feel that you may have a dispute to report, please see below the process on how to submit a formal complaint. Please understand that this process can be rather slow but we encourage you to keep following through and pushing to get your complaint heard and resolved.
What is the purpose of Profeco?
They are a government agency tasked with enforcing the law and investigating possible violations. They respond to complaints from residents and tourists, perform random inspections on Mexican businesses and have the authority to fine or close businesses who are in violation.
How do I file a complaint?
Visit this links below and read the instructions or contact the number listed on the link.
If you are based in Los Cabos, you can contact or visit CATAC located in the marina in downtown Cabo. Please be aware that they have unusual office hours, sometimes closing at 2pm. So plan accordingly.
COMPLETE A COMPLAINT FORM HERE TO SUBMIT TO PROFECO: https://www.profeco.gob.mx/formas/f_3i_quejas.htm
For more information please go to: https://www.gob.mx/profeco
Follow on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/profecomx/?hl=en
Phone: +52 (624) 143 -2277
Google Maps Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/zbNPHqTpniFhoF466