The Cigars I Didn’t Buy – Scam Warning

30 Jun

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Back from a very relaxing, intense and highly interesting trip to Havana and Cuba. All went better than expected and I was able to combine the more productive aspects of the trip in Havana with soothing days at the beach and the tobacco fields of San Juan y Martinez.

It was such a great trip that I would like to kick off my series of reports with the only bad experience I had just to get it off my chest and continue with all the good parts of my visit.

Weeks before my trip I had ordered custom rolled cigars for Canadian friends of mine to be picked up later next month by them in Havana from well known rollers.

I passed by all the Casas del Tabaco / LCDH where I ordered the cigars to confirm the order and pick-up date and all was well until I hit the CdT at La Cabaña, La Triada, where I was told that the cigars were already rolled and I could have them or they would be sold to other customers.

Now, Cueto, the well-known roller, was off to Italy and the Partagas meeting at Matelica and I had just seen him and other friends like La China off a few days back.

I re-ordered the cigars for my friends and told the staff to hold the bundles as I would be interested in having some before my departure.

When I returned to pick up the cigars a few “strange” and very “un-orthodox” things happened …

First : The cigars, especially the Diademas, were of sub-standard quality, very bad wrapper colours, stains, see pictures.

Second : I was told by Daniel, the guy in charge that he would give me a “better” price if I would also take the Diademas.

I would pay only 10 CUC for them instead of 12 and 8 CUC for the Salomones instead of 10.

Funny, as the first prices quoted are the official prices – he was not giving me a better price, in fact he would have over-charged me with the higher prices.

Third : I could not pay with Credit Card.

OK, this might have been true if the machine was down as it often occurs in HAV, but the reason given was BS : custom rolled cigars cannot be paid with a CC. I had done just that a few times that week at other Casas.

Now for the strange, scammy & unorthodox part :

When I asked for a receipt the guy went deaf.

Asked again he started making himself a cafecito.

Asked again he called the cashier and asked her.

She had taken my money and placed it in a paper sheet “guaranteed to be passed on upon his return”.

Now she started telling me that no receipt could be given for custom rolled cigars.

When I insisted, she told me that “there has never been a receipt given for custom rolled cigars”.

Insisting again and telling her about the receipts I had received from other Casas that week she kept telling me that no receipts had ever been issued for custom rolled cigars and started a diversion about receipts for boxes – a different thingy all-together madam.

When I kept insisting and telling her I didn’t care where the money went as long as I got my receipt, she started sweating, the money started to burn in her hands and she couldn’t return it fast enough back to me  saying that I should keep my money and they would keep the cigars.

Guess she realized I not just spoke Spanish but understood unspoken Cuban ….

By then I already knew that it was a very fishy rotten scam.

The cat was away, the mice were in charge and that money would go out the back door.

I had a few conversations later with equally famed rollers and Casa managers and they confirmed that a receipt has to be issued with any purchase or to anyone requesting one.

Most of the buyers don’t ask for one, don’t know these receipts exists, are told some story but the receipts have to be issued.

My gut feeling and the opinion of the rollers and managers : The cigars, at least part of them, were rolled by someone wanting to profit from the famed name and the easy money to be had.

Caveat emptor.

Again : If you buy custom rolled cigars from a roller at a LCDH/CdT you should be able to pay with a CC and if you request it, a receipt will be given for your purchase as proof of purchase for Cuban customs.





7 Responses to “The Cigars I Didn’t Buy – Scam Warning”

  1. Steve 30/06/2015 at 23:43 #


  2. Oliver 01/07/2015 at 01:37 #

    They tried to scam the wrong costumer…
    I will avoid this place.

  3. Melies 01/07/2015 at 07:46 #

    Wow sorry to hear this Nino, it has been a long time since I wrote to you, and nice to have keep reading your posts as always.

    Espero she te encuentres bien y que pronto te des una vuelta por el D.F, seria un honor poder compartir y departir contigo.

    Un abrazo

  4. Michael 01/07/2015 at 10:02 #

    Strange story, but do they really have a Cueto waxwork on display? 😮

    • Nino Munoz 01/07/2015 at 23:57 #

      Yes, Michael, they do.

  5. Arnold Serafin 03/07/2015 at 14:01 #

    Nino at the end of the day, is it not better they make the money rather than the filthy communist government? I would rather see them get it, remember “ladron Que roba ladron tiene cien anos de perdon”

    • Nino Munoz 03/07/2015 at 23:24 #

      Can’t agree with you here, Arnold.
      1) They are robbing a fellow worker/roller not the gvt. if my suspicion is correct.
      2) They are robbing and BStting a customer.
      3) They are feeding me crap – y compadre yo no naci mongo …. 🙂
      4) They are trying to unload sub-standard quality.
      5) If you are going to screw me … be nice, don’t consider me a walking ATM machine waiting to be milked.

      As your president said … No es facil 🙂

      Salu2 / Nino