The knife sharpener scam (?)

There are 11 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Rice.

  • Today, lunch time.

    We were having our meal, when the doorbell rang. My husband answered and the voice said he was a knife-sharpener (afiler) and asked if we needed to sharpen knives. My husband instinctively replied we didn't need his service, and came back to the table to eat.

    I commented I wanted to take our two IKEA scissors to sharpen at the ferreteria down the block, as I had seen a sign offering the service, but my husband said 'Let's give it to this guy, instead'. We were thinking we would be helping a guy in need, saving money and getting the service immediately. My husband spoke again to the buzzer but the guy had left.


    My husband wore his shoes, took his wallet, the two scissors and went chasing the knifer sharpener by bike.

    He finally catches up on him and asks how much he wants to sharpen the scissors (he shows two scissors). The guy says 440 pesos, and my husband agrees.

    After the guy is done grinding, he asks my husband 800 pesos 'since it is two pair of scissors'. My husband is startled because it was clear that he had two pair of scissors to grind since the beginning, and starts telling the guy he had showed him two pairs and so the price was for both scissors. However, the guy insists, so my husband gives in, takes out his wallet and gives the guy 800 pesos.


    The guy sees my husband wallet, and tell him to give him 1600 because the 440 price was per blade, and each pair of scissor has two blades... my husband is pissed and raises his voice, since he realizes he is getting scammed. However, another knife-grinder approaches the two and start supporting his fellow grinder, saying that the price is always 'per blade'.

    My husband replies that for 1600 pesos he could buy new scissors and that he is not paying 1600 pesos -- they can keep the scissors if they want to. They say he has the money anyway, while my husband tries to scour the area to see if there is a policeman to call --- of course, there is none.


    My left initially on foot because he was afraid they would kick him off the bike, then jumps back on his bike and comes back home in a hurry. Anyway, they saw him coming out the gate and getting back in, plus they had just buzzed the door, so they know where we live.


    My husband is still very angry for chasing a scammer to be scammed and the running away, but I am just happy that nothing worse has happened - he had a full wallet with money, documents, cards etc. - and he was not hurt.


    I am not aware of the going price for grinding blades, but I hardly believe a knife-grinder makes thousands pesos per day :cursing:

    About 4 years ago, in San Isidro, the knife-grinder who buzzed asked 300 pesos and it was quite a lot of money even back then, but we thought maybe here scissors aren't as cheap as in Europe.

  • That’s awful! Good of you to warn all of us, serafina . I’d always wanted to give business to a grinder because I love the old-fashioned flutes that announce their arrival.


    I hate that this happened to the two of you. Please describe the scissors the scam artists kept, and we will bring you some new ones when we come back. (Maybe someone makes self-sharpening scissors!)

  • My husband was actually able to keep the ground scissors and the rest of the money in his wallet (and the wallet itself), luckily.

    I fed my masochistic instinct and checked the price of scissors on ikea.it... 3 for €1,95. X/



    Where am I living?!

  • How can the old-fashioned afiler stay in business if he becomes known as someone who cheats his customers? Surely everyone who is scammed tells their neighbors and friends until eventually the customer pool is small. Then they charge even more??? That’s not a very winning business model.

  • How can the old-fashioned afiler stay in business if he becomes known as someone who cheats his customers? Surely everyone who is scammed tells their neighbors and friends until eventually the customer pool is small. Then they charge even more??? That’s not a very winning business model.

    I think Buenos Aires is big enough to go on and on about this. Or just change the guy (the villas are full of resourceful guys in this line of business).

  • I too wonder the same. I have told an Argentine friend about what happened, and her immediate reaction is that they are checking out the neighborhoods to 'mark' house where it would be worth to steal.


    We didn't open the door initially. In fact, the initial reaction was to reply we were not interested. After my comment, my husband spoke again into the buzzer communication system but the guy had gone.


    This is when my husband changed his mind, thinking to: a) get scissors sharpened immediately; b) get a better deal than in a ferretería, c) help a guy in need. I think the pity card we foreigners feel for Argentinians always fool us.


    My husband spent a couple minute to get his shoes on, the scissors, and his wallet to go down and chase the guy. We live in a contrafrente unit, we don't face the street and it takes one minute to get from our apartment door to the building gate on the street.

    Knife-shaperners are usually on a bike and so they move quite fast. My husband too took his bike to go after him. He was 2 blocks away from our home, but in the line of sight to our front door, so he saw where my husband came from, and definitely where he headed back to. We live in a residential building with just 9 units, we don't know if other neighbors replied to the knife-sharpener through the buzzer.

    Anyway, he might have recognized my husband from his voice. We also live in what is considered an affluent neighborhood full of foreigners.


    I am glad I wasn't the one speaking with the guy as with a foreign accent I would have been an even easier target. For as much as I try to work on my accent, it is clear as a day that I am a foreigner (my face, my clothes, my voice, my everything give it away immediately).


    My husband immediately realized the guy was making a move on him when he asked for 800 pesos instead of the initial 440, but he agreed to pay thinking that was the end of it and that would save him a headache. Of course, a 1-0-1 confrontation is easier than a 2-0-1. This is when my husband realized he was in trouble, when the second guy (the accomplice/colleague) came into the picture. When my husband got (safely) back home, panting because he was spinning on his bike furiously, he was so angry he literally went to look for trouble by chasing the guy for his 'service'.