If you are that kind of person, I recommend you avoid East-Asia, the neon-dominated public spaces of which can make Times Square look like the little town of Bethlehem.... (Just do an image-search for neon+Seoul or neon+Tokyo).
T.A. gets a phone call and I wander into a nearby drugstore to wait till he's done. A rack of NYC tourist magnets catches my eye. I pick one out. Price: $2.99. I'll get it. Behind the counter, a South-Asian woman. Down goes the magnet. Beep goes the scanner. I hand her three pictures of the Man Who Couldn't Tell a Lie. Glowering back at me, she blurts out, "It's $3.17; There's tax! Don't you know that? There's always tax....."
Tax? (I'd actually forgotten that U.S. retailers exclude tax in stated prices! I'd been away too long.)
Now, that woman seems rude in my telling of it, above. In fact, precipitating her mini-lecture on the subject of sales tax may have been the fact that, somewhere in there, I'd gently pointed out to her that the label said "$2.99", not "$3.17".
Maybe this seems "much ado about nothing", but it's actually much ado about 18 cents. Haha. No, there is something wrong with these kinds of "hidden charges". They really add up sometimes. I'd vote for any candidate who campaigns to eliminate the following sort of velvet-glove thievery: "$39.95, plus service charge, plus sales tax, plus local tax, plus state tax, plus eat-in tax, plus 20% mandatory gratuity". Tell us from the get-go that the price is really $55, all included, so we know what we're paying! In other countries, in my experience, tax (etc.) is always included in the stated price. Prices are easily-understood, with no surprises, and no need for lengthy calculations. Imagine that!
I was compelled to fish-around for, and surrender, another picture of the man who defeated Cornwallis back circa 1781. (I learned recently that after the surrender at Yorktown, General Cornwallis [of British imperial service] found his way to Malaysia. I learned this while in Penang, Malaysia. "Fort Cornwallis" still stands. We circled the entire thing trying to find a way in, before giving up.)
Moments later, would you believe it? A gang of cute hustlers materialized. Here are three (there were others):
I didn't appreciate this, as it was implicitly a bait-and-switch; she forced us to accept a service, and then coyly demanded we pay for it. I implied that I didn't have money. Suddenly I decided to give her some of the change from the magnet purchase, not more than 50 cents, including several pennies! (A good way to get rid of those pennies, anyway.) She may have been insulted by this "tip", but that was partly the point. She made some more muffled Minion mumblings of despair and confusion, hoping to sucker us out of more. Not us. We made our escape at a brisk pace, before Minion could call in Minnie Mouse or somebody else to enforce the debt.