Headed to Mexico? Learn the Basics of the Consumer Law to Avoid Paying too Much


If you plan on eating out or shopping in Mexico, it is a good idea to know your legal rights as a consumer. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way to protecting you from scams and excessive fees.

The Law and Profeco

In 1976, Mexico passed the Federal Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor) with the goal of protecting consumers across Mexico. The legislation also created the Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor (Profeco), a government agency tasked with enforcing the law and investigating possible violations.

Profeco has the authority to close a business and/or levy fines. You may have seen their suspension stickers on businesses around Quintana Roo. If not, this is what they look like:


The law has been expanded quite a bit since 1976 and now totals 96 pages. If you are interested in reading it in its entirety, and you can read Spanish, here is a link:


Common Violations by Category

There are a lot of activities on the part of a vendor or service provider that may constitute a violation. The following are some of the most common violations according to Profeco:

1) Prices must be exhibited within view of the consumer or provided in the menu

This is probably the most common violation. If a vendor can only quote you the prices verbally, that is a violation. All prices must be in writing.

2) Tips cannot be made mandatory or included in the price (this includes a “service fee”)

You should always inspect your bill carefully. If they add the tip or a surcharge for service, that is violation. It is important to note that tipping is customary in Mexico, and you are encouraged to tip waiters and bartenders.


Example of 10% service fee illegally added

3) Restaurants and bars cannot make getting a table dependent on buying something

This is most common in bars and night clubs. Some businesses will require you to buy a bottle of something in order to get a table. This is a violation.

4) An establishment cannot have minimum consumption requirements 

Some businesses require you to purchase at least two drinks or spend a minimum. This is a violation.

5) Providers must honor promotions and exhibited prices

Some vendors may refuse to honor promotional prices or may change the price at the last minute due to some “unforeseen circumstances”. This is a violation.

6) Providers cannot discriminate based on national origin, gender, sexual preference, race, or disability.

Some vendors may refuse to honor a promotional offer or even charge you more because you are a foreigner. This is a violation.

7) Exhibited prices for goods and services must be the total price to be paid

This means that the price must already include all taxes, commissions, interest, insurance or any other charge that the person may be required to pay. In a nutshell, you pay only whats on the price tag or advertisement.

More on this from Profeco: Comunicado 150

Note: Some readers have sent me messages reporting that businesses had charged them additional tax; however, in most cases they were mistaken.

Pictured below is a receipt that I obtained when I bought a new printer cartridge. The total price that was displayed is the price that I was charged: $459 pesos (indicated with a yellow circle). Larger businesses often write on the receipt how much of that amount was tax. In this case it is indicated by the red square: $63.31.


As you can see, the tax was not added to the exhibited sales price; therefore, it is not a violation.

8) Prices must be exhibited in the national currency (pesos) although additional currency types may be included

If you go to a business or restaurant and the prices are only listed in dollars, that is a violation. The picture of the PROFECO suspension sticker above is from the Los Cerritos Beach Club & Surf located in Baja California. They had all prices listed exclusively in American dollars.

Gas Stations

Frauds related to Mexican gas stations are notorious: shortchanging the customer; not putting the pump on zero before pumping; pumping part of the gas into a different container; and software hacks that make the pump dispense fewer liters. I could actually dedicate a very long blog to this topic, but for now I will just touch on the topic.

Profeco is the agency that is tasked with investigating any consumer violations related to gas stations. Profeco even conducts inspections of gas stations and measures the liters being dispensed to ensure the meter on the pump is accurate.

If you do feel that you have been a victim of a fraud at a gas station, request a receipt. Take some pictures of the pump and of the attendant, if possible. These will be beneficial when you file a complaint with Profeco.

Reporting a Violation

Profeco provides various methods to report a consumer violation:

1) Website: http://www.profeco.gob.mx

2) Phone: 55 68 87 22 and 01 800 468 87 22

3) Email: denunciasprofeco@profeco.gob.mx

4) Mobile Application: PROFECO en 30 (available at the online store for your device) 


In order to use the app, you will have to attach pics of your official identification when you are creating an account. Once you are approved, you will receive a password that will allow you to begin reporting violations.

The app allows has a drop down menu with common violations, a GPS button to give your exact location, and allows you to upload pictures. If you are reporting that the prices are not exhibited, it is a good idea to include a photograph of that.

Once you make a report, you will receive a tracking number via email so you can monitor the progress of your complaint and learn the outcome.

The app does have several drawbacks: 1) it only lists a few violations; 2) there is no block for “other”; 3) it is not possible to list multiple violations; and 4) it does not have a place to include comments or additional details. I prefer the email method.

Additional Tips

Knowledge is power. Unscrupulous taxi drivers, service providers, and vendors are counting on your ignorance. When faced with a clear violation, advise the person that you aware of the law and that you plan to report the violation to Profeco. In my own experience this has been a very effective way to turn the situation around and receive fair treatment (and a fair price).

Of course this can be difficult if the service provider does not speak English and you do not speak Spanish. If you are a non-Spanish speaker, you should check out Is Someone Violating Your Consumer Rights in Mexico? Show Them Your Card. That post contains downloads of common violations in Spanish along with the maximum fine. All you have to do is present the information to the vendor via your cell phone or a printed copy.

Author: Qroo Paul

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41 Comments on "Headed to Mexico? Learn the Basics of the Consumer Law to Avoid Paying too Much"

  1. Thank you, I have had taxi drivers try to overcharge me even though I have lived here for a long time, The last time was from Wallmart to PC2 he wanted 125 pesos I normally pay 60. took his number from the back of the cab but was told it is a waste of time as it is governed by the Mafia.Is this true?

  2. It would be a waste of time if you reported him to the taxi syndicate that he is associated with; however, PROFECO can help you with this as well. In fact, PROFECO routinely conducts operations focused on taxi drivers and other transportation services.

    If you feel a taxi driver is overcharging you, I would get another taxi. I recently negotiated down two taxi rides in Cozumel.

  3. James Anderson | April 28, 2016 at 9:32 am | Reply

    Yes Julia you are right. Taxi company along with the ferry company and many more businesses and huge hotels are all operated by the Cartels. I know this because once i was assaulted by a taxi driver because he wanted more than the regular price and I called the police. when the police arrived they made me pay the incorrect price (Even though i had already agreed the proper price) The reason is that the police told me that they can not get involved with doing anything against the Taxi company because they would get tracked down and shot!!! This has happened too I know. Always confirm the price before you get in but i know sometimes they change the price half way through the journey or deny that agreed price. I dont know how PROFECO would have an upper hand over the cartels so they probably wouldnt even bother for a few pesos.

    • That happened to me once- got a cab from Guad airport to Chapala, used the taxi stand inside the airport, fare paid directly to them, they write out a slip where you are going to that you hand to the cabbie. But, once on the road, he decided to get sleezy, demanded more money & I reminded him the fare was paid in full at the airport, so he pulled over & ordered me out of the cab in the middle of nowhere. I called a Mexican friend on my cell who told me to call the police. In the end, the cabbie took me to my home but literally threw my suitcase at the pavement in anger. Freaked my out that the crook knew where I lived. Will NEVER take a cab again in Mexico.

  4. PROFECO has a good track record of protecting consumers in Mexico. Examples: in DF, they suspended 78 taxis for violations related to their meters. In Veracruz, they suspended all taxi service to the airport temporarily because the companies did not have their prices visible and were making up fares. They were allowed back once they complied.

    The following is a link with news bulletin about an operation they did in December. They suspended operations at 206 businesses, fined 323, and stopped the sale of 34,117 products for violation of the consumer protection laws. That is not a bad track record.


  5. Jenni_in_QRoo | April 28, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Reply

    There always seems to be a lot of confusion about menu prices and the exchange rate. I understand that any vendor can decide what exchange rate they want to give and the same with restaurants, which is why it is so important to carry dollars and pesos.
    However, many establishments only hand you a menu listed in English with prices in dollars. It seems to me that any vendor should also have to show prices available in pesos. Is that true? Is it a requirement? Gracias!

    • Jenni, the consumer law requires all prices to be listed in the national currency (pesos). The provider is permitted to list them in other currencies; however, they cannot omit the peso amount (Article 34).

      Last year, PROFECO suspended several car rental businesses on Cozumel for that and other violations. Earlier this month, PROFECO suspended Los Cerritos Beach Club & Surf in Baja California for only having the prices listed only in dollars.

      I am going to add it to the blog above along with a photo of the suspension notice from PROFECO for that violation.

  6. Linda Jackson | April 28, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Reply

    I was wondering if this applies to archeological sites and tourist locations, i.e., cenotes? I have been charged more as a “foreigner” than my Mexican husband, even though I am a permanent resident. At Dzibilchaltun they refused to honor the “over 65” discount that was posted, although I’m 68 years old.

    • Yes, it does apply to those. I have actually filed a similar complaint on a cenote and PROFECO initiated an investigation.

  7. Item #7 is not correct. Under the law, if the price displayed says “mas IVA” (plus sales tax) or something similar, then the seller may add the 16% sales tax to the displayed price. If the displayed price says nothing about the IVA, then the price is considered to include the IVA.

    • Tio Foncho, thank you for taking the time to comment. The information contained in the article is the information obtained from PROFECO. Here is the section of the applicable law:

      “ARTÍCULO 7 BIS.- El proveedor está obligado a exhibir de forma notoria y visible el monto total apagar por los bienes, productos o servicios que ofrezca al consumidor. Dicho monto deberá incluir impuestos, comisiones, intereses, seguros y cualquier otro costo, cargo, gasto o erogación adicional que se requiera cubrir con motivo de la adquisición o contratación respectiva,sea ésta al contado o a crédito.”

      A case in point: In December of 2015, PROFECO placed suspension seals on the Hotel Hampton Inn in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas for displaying prices with “mas IVA” (plus tax). They reiterated that the total price displayed must already include taxes.

      I strive to be as accurate as possible. If you have information related to a contradictory law or a recent change to the law above, please let me know and I will get clarification from PROFECO.

  8. A friend of mine knows exactly what the taxi fare is from his condo to Walmart. He simply gets in the taxi and in arrival pays them that exact amount…..make sure you have the right change. Not one driver has ever challenged him

  9. Mexico is a land of contradictions. The regulations of the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público say that when a product generates an IVA, the seller is to write on the price list the legend, “más IVA.” However, as you have already published, the Consumer Protection Law says the price must include the IVA. As far as I know, this discrepancy has not been resolved in Mexico. PROFECO follows their regulations and will sanction a company for adding IVA to the stated price.

    • I agree, Mexico does seem to be a land of contradictions. I have seen the same situation when dealing with immigration issues. That is actually one of the things that motivated me to create the blog. I want to help other expats learn more about their new country and to become familiar common practices here.

      In the case of the Hampton Inn (mentioned in the other reply), I read that the hotel can face a fine of up to $1,481,112.34 MXN for this particular violation. I am really amazed at how high the fines can run here in Mexico.

  10. James Anderson | April 29, 2016 at 10:09 am | Reply

    Katie.Your friend is lucky. I have lived in Playa del Carmen full time for 12 years. I also use to do the same by having the exact fare ready. I know all the proper prices of taxo journeys as i have the official zone price list. However, giving the exact and correct money at the time of arrival at your destination can not always work. If you look like a tourist then they will often ask for more and this can end in a horrible argument. This is teh exact thing that happened when i was assaulted and hit in the face by a taxi driver. Like i said in my above post, i called the police but they didnt want to help when they arrived. They made me pay the incorrect price. You cant argue with the businesses run by the cartels here. Always a bit safer to confirm the price when you get in the taxi but even then they sometimes change the price half way through your journey. If that happens i just ask to get out of the car,even if its only 5 pesos more than what we first agreed. We can try and make a personal report to PROFECO but im sure they would not be interested at all. I know the post above describes how PROFECO clamped down on general violation in DF but that was for a lot of taxis. I doubt they would do anything for one of taxi overcharging by 10 pesos!

  11. Does this include mercados? And street vendors?

  12. Many times while grocery shopping at any of the larger stores in Mazatlan there won’t be a price tag posted for a certain item. As a former grocery store price changer, this is a pet peeve of mine. Where do the “laws” stand on this issue?

    • This is a very common violation and the larger store chains are often fined for violating this one. The current fine range for this violation is listed in Chapter 14 of the Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor: from $473.10 to $1’513,916.80 pesos. The exact fine is determined based on the severity of the violation, previous violations etc.

  13. What about hotels and resorts who charge US dollars only, no matter what country you are from. This is the same for house/apt. rentals. As Canadians we are charged in US dollars

    • Article 34 of the Consumer Protection Law requires all prices to be listed in the national currency (pesos). The provider is permitted to list them in other currencies as well; however, they cannot omit the peso amount. This is a common violation in tourist areas.

      Last year, PROFECO suspended several car rental businesses on Cozumel for that and other violations. Earlier this month, PROFECO suspended Los Cerritos Beach Club & Surf in Baja California for only having the prices listed in dollars.

  14. Sherrie Miller | April 30, 2016 at 7:50 am | Reply

    does this include timeshare costs? Yesterday I got an email from Casa Dorada saying that they were charging each member $845 more because they remodeled. This was not in our original contract. I believe the original contract said the maintenance fee was never going to be more than 5%. They are saying this is because they remodeled the spa, replaced the furniture etc and we have to all pay this now if we want to use our resort.

    • The Federal Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Proteccion al Consumidor) does address real estate sales and contracts in Chapter 8 (page 26 of the PDF in the main article); however, you would have to contact PROFECO to see if they would be able to help you with this particular situation. If I were you, I would consult with a Mexican attorney who specializes in real estate law to see what my options were.

  15. Why do rental properties want their payments in US funds. Shouldn’t it be pesos.

    • Article 34 of the Consumer Protection Law requires all prices to be listed in the national currency (pesos). You can advise them of this fact or contact PROFECO for assistance.

  16. Will PROFECTO do anything about making a company Nentanas run by Portus, refund money that they have acknowledged that they owe you but just don’t pay you? We have been waiting since July 2015 to get back a down payment on a condo they couldn’t deliver in the time frame they contractually promised.

    • The Federal Consumer Protection Law (Ley Federal de Proteccion al Consumidor) does address real estate sales and contracts in Chapter 8 (page 26 of the PDF in the main article). You can file a formal complaint with them. They work a lot like the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.

  17. Charley Parker | May 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Reply

    Lots of REALLY great info on here! We travel to Coz often and know most of this, but some is surprising! I have a question re: 4) An establishment cannot have minimum consumption requirements – how can beach clubs (ones in PDC come to mind) say that per person one must consume $1500.00 pesos in order to secure a spot? And regarding your last point (#8 Prices must be exhibited in the national currency) there were at least 2 stores in the tourist area we were stuck in while visiting PDC with USD price stickers put on top of the peso amount. I mentioned something to employees at both stores and said that I wasn’t going to support their business and walked out … seeing this as a Canadian made me SO mad!!

    • The minimum consumption requirement that you described is a common violation and there are articles online where businesses have been fined by PROFECO. The USD only prices are a big pet peeve of mine too. I recently reported a business for that.

  18. Thank you for a very information article. I’m trying to get the app that you mentioned, but can’t seem to find it. Any tips?

    • I found the app by typing “profeco” in the search bar when you go to the app store for your phone.

  19. Great article! There have been quite a few complaints recently from the bar El Patio on Isla Mujeres about varying tips being added automatically to bills. The bar (The Joint and others) is managed by Penny Deming who coincidentally arrived there shortly after being convicted of offences by the MFDA in Canada and faces $22,500 in fines. She is also selling real estate on Isla.
    We will be sure to have the app on our phones for any event, and especially if we do visit El Patio to hear a favourite musician.
    Keep up the good work!

  20. David Swanson | May 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Reply

    I’m surprised and disappointed about the rule #8. I have had a computer store in Central Mexico for 19 years now and seen the dollar go from 10 pesos to almost 19 pesos to the dollar. And I have seen it vary by as much as a peso per day. computers are bought and sold all over the world in USD, the same as many other items. It would not be fair to me to have to sell a product at a set pesos price when it might cost me more than that retail price to replace it. Likewise if the pesos rate went higher, it will cost me less pesos to buy that item. So unless I lower all my prices I will never be able to sell that item because it now has too high a price. I have 3500 items in my store. I can’t be repricing 3500 items every few days to be fair to me and also fair to my clients. That’s crazy. Even at a wholesale level, most of my clients price computer parts in USD and sell at the buy dollar rate of the day. And give me a legal factura in USD. It’s the only sensible way to do it.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on this.

    • David, thanks for taking the time to comment. Every retail business is in the same position that you are, even those in the United States. Exchange rates are in constant flux, and at times, the gap between two currencies becomes more pronounced. We have seen that in the history of the Euro to Dollar exchange rate. However, even if a U.S. company primarily sold imported products, they would still have the prices in U.S. dollars because that is the national currency. Just think if you found a great deal on something at Best Buy in Dallas, only to get to the register and be told the price is in British pounds. It is fair to the shoppers to offer products in the official currency of the country.

      After writing this blog, I received two emails from Mexican nationals thanking me for posting the information. Both advised me that they regularly report businesses that only list prices in U.S. dollars.

      Just after reading your post, I was going through the Home Depot advertisement pricing a new mini-split. The 20 page advertisement was full of products made outside of Mexico, many by American companies; nevertheless, all are listed in pesos.

      Displaying prices in Mexican pesos and having product information in Spanish, seem to be two of the big priorities for Profeco nowadays. They are even targeting online retailers that sell products in Mexico to ensure compliance.

      I did not discuss possible fine amounts for each violation in my last post. The current fine for this one is up to $1’513,916.80 pesos, and a suspension sticker across the front of your business. The picture of the suspension sticker shown in the post specifically lists this violation.

      Since you are in retail, I would recommend reading the consumer law in its entirety to avoid any expensive violations in the future.

      • David Swanson | May 26, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Reply

        OK. I see your point and understand what you’re saying. I had no idea until I saw it in your blog. I’ll definitely give it some consideration and likely make the appropriate changes. Good article. Thanks.

  21. Wonderful informative piece…Times are difficult in MX with the yoyoing peso, my tipping advise is pay in pesos and tip in USD. We live in Cozumel and taxi issues appear to be increasing. Key, buyer beware.

  22. Thank you for the always excellent information.

  23. Donna Fleming | July 25, 2016 at 7:31 am | Reply

    Great information. Thank you. It might be a little late for this question but I had a rental that was based upon the US dollar and paid a deposit in US dollars. When it was time to get my deposit back, which I had to fight for for months, the (partial) refund was based upon the exchange rate at the time, which was about 2/3 of what I’d paid. This seemed wrong to me. But was it legal? Seems unfair to play it both ways.

    • Car rental companies get into trouble a lot here in Mexico for unfair practices. Having prices in U.S. dollars to begin with was wrong. It sounds like they also defrauded you out of part of your deposit by switching back.

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