Be extra alert when filling up your car with gas while you are in Mexico. I recently took a trip to Cabo San Lucas after minting a Southwest companion pass and was scammed by the gas station attendant at the Pemex gas station near San Jose del Cabo (SJD) airport when filling up gas in my rental car. Gas stations in Mexico require you to let the attendant pump your gas.

Pemex logo

I must admit this is quite a clever scam. When I first picked up the car, the Alamo rental car agent told me to always pay with a credit card at gas stations in Mexico because the attendants often switch the bills very quickly attempting to make you think that you gave them a different bill. This is exactly what happened to me. My gas bill came to $350 pesos. When I tried to pay the attendant, he switched my $500 peso bill that I gave him with at $50 peso bill and said I still owed him $300 pesos. I knew I didn’t and argued with him and he finally gave me back the $150 pesos owed.

I thought I thwarted a scam only to realize I fell for another trick by the gas pump attendant. After leaving the station I realized I only needed a 1/4 tank, but the gas station pump gauge registered 21 liters (or 5 1/2 gallons) for a quarter tank of gas in a Volkswagen mid size car. There’s no way that car has a 84 liter (22 gallon) tank when empty. Apparently, the attendant did not reset the pump after the previous customer left.

So make sure you get out of the car and watch the attendant pump your gas starting from 0 liters. Pay with a credit card if possible. My gas pump attendant told me it was cash only, but that was a complete lie because he wanted to pull off his scam.

The worst part about all of it is I tipped the attendant $40 pesos after he ripped me off. Avoid the Pemex gas station near the SJD airport and do yourself a favor and fill up in town before you return your car.

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