How a Toll Collector in Morocco Tried to Swindle Me Out of Money — and Failed

As I drove on the highway from Casablanca to Marrakech, I stopped by one of the tool booths along the way which money is paid — in this case, the toll was eleven Moroccan dirhams. That is the equivalent of approximately United States $1.18.

How a Toll Collector in Morocco Tried to Swindle Me Out of Money — and Failed

I had a bank note of 50 Moroccan dirhams which I gave to the toll collector. He took it and said “Salut!”

I said “What?!?“

As he smiled, he repeated himself: “Salut!”

This was repeated a number of times, as I was attempting to explain to him in French that I was expecting change from my 50 dirham bank note for a toll of eleven dirhams. No vehicles were behind me at the time, as traffic was light.

He finally explained to me in French that he was just trying to incorporated a friendly greeting in an otherwise boring transaction. I responded “the United States” when he asked where I was from; and he finally gave me my change just as a car was queued up behind me.

Not to delay the person behind me, I accepted the change and the receipt; but something was nagging at me on the inside. I saw a large tractor trailer truck off to the right of the toll plaza; so I pulled up behind it and counted the change.

When I realized that I was shortchanged by five dirhams, I thought about simply driving on, thinking that it was only worth approximately 53 United States cents — but in a country where those five dirhams can actually buy something, I realized that it was the principle of the matter, wondering how many other motorists he has cheated out of their money. It all eventually adds up.

I turned off the ignition, locked the car, and left it behind the large truck. I then walked up to the toll booth and alerted him that he did not give to me the proper change.

After unsuccessfully attempting to talk his way out of it in several different ways — including trying to convince me that he indeed give me the correct change — and after I kept showing him what he actually gave me, he finally relented and handed me the proper amount of change. Only then was I satisfied enough to get back into the car and be on my way to Marrakech.

Summary

What I should have done was counted my change right there on the spot in the car at the toll booth — regardless of how many cars were queued up behind my rental car…

…but that is exactly for what the toll taker was hoping: to create a situation through which counting the change becomes stressful enough for the cheated motorist that he or she will feel compelled to simply drive onwards upon receiving the change without first counting it — especially if horns are honking by irritated drivers behind him or her. I realized that the toll taker kept stalling me and only gave me the change once a vehicle was finally queued up behind the one which I was driving.

I suppose an incident such as this one could happen on a toll road anywhere in the world and not just in Morocco; but I have never seen someone so blatantly try to cheat a motorist out of the proper change — and waste the time of the motorist as well, to add insult to injury.

The moral of this tale is to always count your change — no matter where you are; and no matter what is the situation, if you can help it — to ensure that you are not being cheated out of your money.

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “How a Toll Collector in Morocco Tried to Swindle Me Out of Money — and Failed”

  1. vincent ford says:

    what can 5 dirhams buy you in Morocco?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      One toll along the highway, a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice, or a small souvenir as three examples, vincent ford.

      I have never had this happen to me before; but it is not the amount of money. I think that the toll collector counts on motorists to just shrug their shoulders and drive on…

      …but what if other toll collectors act similarly to motorists?

  2. Paul T says:

    Thanks for your report. These are ‘useful’ postings. Hard hitting ‘man on the street’ accounts, like this one, are more important to B.A. readers than having 4 reviews of the same lounge within 6 months. Stay unique. Stay alert, stay alive – and save your money.

  3. Earl Lee says:

    Shame on him for trying to cheat you but honestly I doubt I would have gone back just for 53 cents. Sure, I guess it’s the principle of the situation but situations like this can escalate and not sure it’s worth it over such a small amount of money. JMHO.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You are probably correct, Earl Lee — which is why I suggested taking a moment to count the change upon receiving it rather than waiting until departing from the toll booth.

  4. Stan says:

    The toll collector will reap what he sows. Nobody gets away with anything resulting in this life !

  5. Matthew says:

    Quite a different crowd reaction than when I shared my similar troubles in Zanzibar:

    https://liveandletsfly.boardingarea.com/2017/01/08/zanzibar-street-food/

  6. Wes says:

    Well done, sir!

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