Things that are normal in America are not necessarily well regarded abroad: you may do these at home without raising eyebrows, but these cultural faux-pas will make you come across as a penny-pinching tourist.
1. Shopping At The Factory Outlet Malls
Sure, there are a few factory outlet malls abroad, but there are so few of them. Besides, these outlet malls are so far away from urban cities that people make special trips to save up. If you do this abroad, it just sends the wrong message about you.
2. Returning Used Items
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Most Americans use and abuse of large retailers’ return policies, especially the upscale ones, who generally don’t put any time limit on the returns, like this one, this one or this one. While you will have no problem returning your worn outfits in the Land of the Free, you’ll definitely take the walk of shame anywhere else.
3. Returning Food You Don’t Like
Perfectly acceptable at most supermarkets in America, including at the higher kinds like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, returning open packages of foods because ‘you didn’t like it’ is a big no-no anywhere in the world. Don’t bother to justify how badly those chips tasted if you dare asking for a refund outside U.S. borders. Just buy something else instead. You’ve wasted a few dollars, but you’ve saved your reputation.
A concept so popular that reality shows have been made about it on American networks, couponing is the epitome of stinginess gone wrong. Not only does it say that you’re willing to embarrass yourself to save a couple of cents. Also, the cashier will think that you’re the kind of person who doesn’t always flush the toilet or goes through his neighbor’s garbage to save a few bucks as well.
5. Doggy Bags
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A quirky habit that is acceptable here, doggy bags have impacted America’s reputation abroad more than George W. Bush or Guantanamo. While you may believe it is in a bad taste to leave a delicious meal unfinished, asking for your leftovers abroad is not good. People may believe you are so cheap as to prefer to have leftover instead of a proper dinner as your next meal. And if that’s still not a good reason for you, embrace that it’s just a cultural thing.
6. Asking For Free Refills
Another perk that people use and abuse of here, free refills are a restaurant or coffee shop owner’s pet peeve anywhere else in the world. With the exception of Asia, where you may ask for a refill of hot water for your tea, don’t expect to receive unlimited amount of coffee or soda when your cup gets empty. Just buy another, or drink water.
7. The Hot Water, Lemon And Sugar Drink
Better known as the ‘I-want-tea-but-I-don’t-want-to-pay-for-it’ hack, this is more offensive to shop owners than a request for free refill.
8. Coffee Filled To The Brim
Americans often surprise waiters by asking them for a coffee cup so filled that it spills all over the coaster. In all fairness to foreigners, half an inch of extra coffee (=$0.05) doesn’t make a difference. Really, it doesn’t.
9. All You Can Eat Buffets
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Unlimited food buffets make Americans an easy target to jokesters around the world and are, alongside McDonald’s, the reason why foreigners believe that all Americans are fat, eat junk food and in large quantities. A lot of high-end hotels feature buffet style restaurants – but people don’t go for the purpose of filling up on it. Do go to the buffet, indulge, but be moderate.