How it works:
- Overview: Like in several other Eastern European countries, you may encounter the bar scam here in Tbilisi and this is one of the top scams (taxi scams are the other) to watch out for in Georgia.
- Opening: there are a couple of different versions that can play out here. First, you may be approached by a tout along certain streets who lie about deals and offers to pull you in. Second, you may be approached by a pretty lady in town centre who ask you for help first (e.g. a cigarette) and then ask if you would like to get a drink together. Thirdly, there are girls who match you on Tinder and then suggest going to these bars for a drink.
- Set-up: what happens here is that your bill will invariable end up a few multiples (5-10x) of what you initially expect. Tricks used could be not giving you a menu, a menu without prices, adding fees which were not reflected on the menu, not giving you a bill, adding a crazy tax, etc. If you refuse to pay, you will find burly men flexing their muscles in front of you who will escort you to the nearest ATM. There have even been reports of staff replacing your hookah if you got one with empty ones should you be away from your table to dance.
Places to beware:
- Tbilisi: Shardeni Street, German Bar, Phoenix – Club & Lounge, Mtkvarze Nightclub, Sky Hall, Night Club Black Rose, etc
What to do:
- Avoid: heading to a suggested bar together with a random stranger.
- If not, consider:does the bar seem legitimate? Are there customers? Is the stranger evasive about things?Is he/she only bringing you to a particular restaurant or bar?
- Test your new “friend”: pretend you have company by suggesting to go another place where you have friends at. Ask for prices before ordering. Take a photo together.
- If scammed: threaten to call the police, pay with a credit card but call immediately to dispute the charges. Keep a separate bank account with little cash to limit your losses if threatened.