What Every Everyone Should Know About Mexico’s Consumer Protection Law

Mexico takes consumer rights very seriously and has an impressive 100+ page federal consumer rights law (Ley Federal de Protección al Consumidor) designed to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices.

The law is enforced by a government agency called la Procuraduría del Consumidor, or Profeco for short. They are tasked with ensuring compliance through inspections, investigating consumer complaints and sanctioning businesses found in violation.

Well, as we all know, just because there is a law in place doesn’t mean that everyone will follow it and the consumer protection law is no exception. In fact, if you’re a foreigner, then you’re even more likely to encounter a violation because some businesses/ restaurants/ bars are counting on your ignorance of Mexican law.

Fortunately, you only have to learn four important things about Mexico’s consumer protection law to avoid paying too much for goods and services. Here they are:

1) Tipping is voluntary 

Tipping is 100% voluntary in Mexico and businesses are not permitted to add a mandatory tip or service fee to the final bill. Sometimes it’s slid in as a line item and many people don’t even notice. This results in people unknowingly double-tipping.

Just to be clear, it is customary to tip in Mexico and I encourage everyone to do it whenever appropriate. If you need some guidance in this area, check out Tipping in Mexico.

2) All prices must be visible or listed in the menu 

The price of any good, product or service must be displayed. If a vendor can only quote you a price verbally, that’s a violation.

3) The exhibited price must be the total amount to be paid

The exhibited price for a product or service must be the total to be paid and already include all taxes, commissions, interest, insurance, or any other charge required to obtain it. That means the price you see, is the price you pay — period.

4) Businesses must honor promotions and ads

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If the sign says “1/2 price beers all day” and they try to charge you full price, that’s a violation.

Carry a Copy of Your Rights With You

If you have limited Spanish-speaking ability, the challenge after you identify a violation (e.g. a restaurant adds additional fees to your bill) will be in articulating your displeasure and getting the charges removed.

To help those folks, I created an educational business card that you can hand to the waiter, manager or business owner that will do much of the talking for you. The card highlights the key points of the federal consumer protection law and includes the maximum fine for violations.

One side of the card is in Spanish and the other in English (shown below):

I created a similar card a couple of years back and distributed them to expats in the area. Several of them later wrote me to tell me how they were able to successfully resolve the consumer dispute after presenting the card.

I uploaded the template to Vistaprint so readers could order their own copies. By the way, I don’t make a penny from the sale of the cards.

Order Consumer Rights Cards

Enforcement of the Law

In most cases, you should be able to resolve your consumer complaint directly with the business without involving the authorities, but in the event that you can’t, you can always turn to Profeco for help.

To learn more, check out How to File A Complaint with Profeco.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Whether you’re a tourist or a resident here in Mexico, there’s one thing that we all have in common — we’re all consumers. Learn your rights, carry them with you and don’t allow yourself to be cheated, overcharged or otherwise defrauded.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow us on social media

About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

30 Comments on "What Every Everyone Should Know About Mexico’s Consumer Protection Law"

  1. Clarification, please: Typically hotels will advertise
    a room cost and then say that taxes are additional. Is this allowed?

  2. Paul,

    Thanks for this update. I know you’ve published this before and I’ve regularly directed people to the old version, but I’m sure that people new to the blog will find this useful.

    May I suggest that you make the templates available for download? I was able to capture the front of the card from the Vistaprint site, but I can’t get a good image of the back (I know I could create a new card to get an image if I wanted to, and I may do that).

    I also noted that it’s $24.00 USD for 100 cards from Vistaprint, and $23.60 USD for economy shipping to Mexico! I’m headed back to the states in the near future, so if folks were interested, I could order in bulk and mule them down (economy shipping to the USA is $7 USD). I’ll be returning around mid- February.

    • It is much cheaper to send to the U.S. and that’s where the majority of our readers are actually located.

      I tried to get a better picture of the cards but the only one available says “proof”.
      Also, I still recommend carrying the card and leaving it with the business. The last thing you want to do is to hand your cellphone over to an angry waiter so he can read the text on the picture…lol.

  3. Great article Paul!

  4. What about CFE? Our bill tripled the last billing period and we were gone for two weeks. Is there any way to dispute this?

    • Hi Tom,

      CFE actually gets quite a few consumer complaints –I was as surprised as you are. They participate in a mediation program from Profeco called Concilianet. I am going to explain how that works in a future post.

      Here’s a link to the program where you can file a complaint:

      https://concilianet.profeco.gob.mx/Concilianet/inicio.jsp

      The downside is that the site is in Spanish and it doesn’t work well when you try to open it with Google Translate.

  5. Thanks for the templates of the card, will get a few printed and laminated for friends

    • I always get a few hundred and give them out to friends and neighbors. I usually give them a few so they can leave them at the businesses.

  6. Larry lloyd Wall | December 20, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Reply

    Great to know about the added on bill for tips, ect.. I do always leave a 15 to 20% tip depending on service. Thanks for this information

    • This post was inspired by a recent visit to a local restaurant. We noticed that an additional 18% had been added to the checks of several of our neighbors but to ours — I guess that’s the benefit of being well-known for writing articles about consumer rights issues.

      Anyway, it turned out it was a “service fee” that the business promptly removed when questioned about it.

  7. A tourist story: Three of us were touring the ruins over in the Puuc region, staying in Ticul for a week or so-lots of restaurant meals. Parked the rental car, got a room and went across the street to the dinner. There was a pile of menus on the table, we each picked one up off the table and sat down to order. The waitress came over and took our menus and gave us three printed in English-they were priced at double the Spanish ones. Of course we asked for the Spanish ones back but it was a non starter so we went elsewhere. We waved everytime we went by for the rest of our stay.

    • Thanks for sharing that story. It serves as a warning to other readers of the blog. 🙂

    • It would be interesting to see how that establishment presents the bill. They may just have a very bad exchange rate (based on the USD menu pricing). Where ever we’ve gone, even into some not-so-touristy areas, the bill is presented in both dollars and pesos, so one can pay in whichever currency is most convenient (with pesos almost always being the better deal).

  8. This is an extremely helpful post. And a Big Thank you to you for sharing this. Merry Christmas also. On numerous occasions in Playa del Carmen over the years I have had restaurants attempt to add 20% to 25% onto a restaurant check and claim its because of new prices on the menu that havent been printed yet because the peso value changed. On some occasions I have been forced to pay this as I had no backup. Now I have the back up for these actions and since I will be in Playa in a few more days for a couple weeks, this may just come in handy more sooner then later.

  9. Buen artículo!

  10. lot of important info you shared with us through this informative post. Its really helpful to understand the law of mexico.
    Thanks for sharing the wonderful article.

  11. so recently i went to profeco over a beach bar, started charging 300 pesos just to sit in their chairs on the beach, no signs to advertise that, and also a 15% gratuity added to bill, no place on their menu or in there bar that these charges were being charged, also they were not offering to take the 300 peso chair charge off on food and drinks, when i went to profeco i did not have the proof in writing about the charges, so they could not file a formal charge, but they did call them…i love this place the food, service everything about the place and when i went back, they would not serve us, all the waiters had our pictures on their phone and a message not to serve us we were gathering info for profeco, i had spoke to the manager and said that it was illegal for the charges and we just want fairness, we werent there gathering info we just want to enjoy the place and not be ripped off…they are still charging hit and miss people with 300 peso chair charge to whoever they want and adding gratituity, not everyone but most…so going to profeco, only caused more grief for us and they still are getting away with the chair charges…

  12. Ronda-Lee Rathwell | December 21, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Reply

    Last March we were at La Joya on Isla Mujeres.
    Our bill has an added service of approx 18%. We only found it because we were attempting to split the bill between two couples.
    When we asked the waiter he said it was a service charge from the kitchen.
    We said Nope!
    Deducted the charge and paid that amount. I wrote my math on the bill and we left.
    No tip either.
    I feel if you are going to try to rip me off I’m not going to reward you.
    We posted pictures on an Isla FB page and warned others.
    That’s where I found out about the consumer protection act.

    We also ran into the beach lounger charge on North Beach. It’s seems to only be in effect when the beach is busy.

  13. Thank you Paul!

    Great Job as always!

    Chuck

    Your neighbor to be.. Hopefully SOON..

  14. Great post! I’m going to use this information to fight some outrageous charges on my rental car. We were charged double for the liability insurance at a Payless (off airport). Even though we argued and questioned it for almost an hour, it was late in the day, we were tired and had lots of luggage, so eventually I reached some sort of compromise and ended up with a much smaller car for nearly double what I had signed up for online. Rental car charges have to be one of the biggest scams going down here. Thanks, again for the info. Jim

    • Some of the car rental companies do some sketchy things in an attempt to charge customers more. I plan on doing a future on rental car companies and how to avoid being overcharged.

      So many topics, so little time…lol.

    • The car rental offices at the Cancun airport are notoriously ruthless. They know you are likely tired and just want to start your vacation, so they have a big advantage. I had much better luck in Tulum.

      If I ever have to rent a car in Cancun again, I’ll have one of Paul’s PROFECO business cards ready, and also have my phone out recording the interaction, but there is the risk that they decline to rent to you at all…

  15. How kind n considerate u r Paul ! A great inspiration ! Am planning to move back to Mexico later. Thank u for ur magnanimous heart !

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.