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Scammed by the Mushroom Man

I’ve learned--the hard way--there are different prices for locals and tourists, and that U.S. citizens (AKA Yankees) are frowned upon more harshly by a number of people throughout the Balkans.

A pre-filled container of mushrooms for sale (Pictured bottom right near the scale).
A pre-filled container of mushrooms for sale (Pictured bottom right near the scale).

The local vendor at the market outside the fortifications of Kotor requested I pay €20 for a box of mushrooms, a box of similar dimensions to the two pictured above.


... And I was stupid enough to do it before inspecting the quality and contents.

When I arrived home, ready to cook up these expensive morsels after a thorough washing in the colander, I discovered the box was weighted not only with mushrooms, but with similarly colored dark grey and brown stones!

Mmmm....tastes just like mushrooms and regret.

Scammed by the mushroom man. I'd been had. The baser part of me wanted to track him down and present him with a fake hex bag to make him think twice about the insidious way he dealt with others.

Thankfully, my Superego kicked in and silenced the devilish Id on my shoulder. There would be no exacting of vengeance today.


Words of wisdom to take away from this experience:

  • Inspect your produce.

  • Watch and learn from others' interactions in the marketplace. Scope it out. Follow the lead of the locals.

  • Be wary of any shop or vendor which is open for business on a Sunday in Montenegro that is not a cafe, bar or bakery. Even supermarkets are closed on Sundays. Montenegrin stores open on red days--Sundays--can be fined nearly $10,000 for violating this stricture.

  • “Kolko ćeš mi spuštit cijenu ako kupim par kila?” is a useful phrase to pull out when navigating the marketplace. A rough translation equates to, "How much will you drop the price if I buy few kilograms?"

  • If a seller demonstrates reluctance, inquire more deeply and dazzle them with questions. Ask them how much they sold today. Suggest that perhaps more people might gravitate to their stall or booth to purchase goods if they see you buying from them. Use motivation to your advantage. First impressions are formed in seconds. You have precious few words to wield any leverage. Choose them wisely.

  • “Viđoh jeftinije, koliko ti je cijena najmanje ako kupim od tebe?” roughly translates to, "What is lowest price if I buy from you?" Should the seller hesitate or eye you up and down, add, “Aj da se ne vrćem," which translates to "Don't let me walk back. Give me best price." Add some flattering comments for flourish, such as, "Milije mi je od tebe kupit,” ("I would rather buy from you.") while he or she is considering the sale.

  • Stay short.

  • Use humor if you can.

  • Don't get pushy.

  • Don't look desperate!

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