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Wikivoyage warns against franc/ariary confusion in Madagascar:

The former currency Malagasy Franc (Franc Malgache) was replaced in 2005 by the Ariary (Ar-ee-ar) which is worth 5 Francs. For example, 10,000 Francs = 2000 Ariary. When negotiating a price, ALWAYS CONFIRM THE AMOUNT IN ARIARY. Many locals take advantage of tourists by simply stating the amount due without specifying the currency, so many tourists are duped into paying 5 times the actual amount due because of Franc/Ariary confusion.

Now in 2014, is this still a risk?

For each price, should I really ask the vendor whether it is franc or ariary?

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    why not just assume its ariary all the time since its worth more? – JonathanReez Apr 13 '14 at 14:20
  • @JonathanReez: That's exactly the problem. If someone says "It costs 5" and they mean francs, and you pay ariaries, you've paid 5 times too much. – Flimzy Apr 13 '14 at 17:17
  • Oh, you mean the prices street vendors post on their stalls? I've originally thought it's an issue where (say) a taxi driver quotes you "500" and then asks for Ariary instead of Francs. – JonathanReez Apr 13 '14 at 17:26
  • @JonathanReez: I think either scenario would apply to the situation. Why would it matter? The question is valid in either. – Flimzy Apr 14 '14 at 4:14
  • It never hurts asking the vendor if the pricetag doesn't mention a currency – BlueCacti Apr 27 '14 at 19:24
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I was visiting in 2012 and during my 3 week trip, which took me to quite some remote areas I only came across one shop that still had a conversion table hung out. also no taxi-scams or other things happened to me.

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Even now, 13 years on from the change of currency, the Malagasy Franc (FMG/MGF) is alive and well amongst rural folk. But for a tourist visiting the typical tourist places, you are very unlikely to encounter prices in anything other than Ariary (MGA) nowadays.

All prices of hotels, restaurants, national parks, tour operators, vehicle hire agencies, etc are given in Ariary. So you won't have to worry unless you are planning to get well off the beaten track and live like a local.

It is not just deep in the countryside that the Malagasy Franc thrives among locals as the currency of choice. Even in the suburbs of the capital city not frequented by outsiders, a Malagasy market trader is likely still to quote the prices of his fruit and veg in Francs to a Malagasy local customer.

I have noticed sometimes when I am in shops in Madagascar that the shopkeeper totals up the amount to be paid in Francs, then uses a pocket calculator to divide by five so they can tell me the amount due in Ariary. When I hand over the cash, they count it and multiply it by five on their calculator, subtract the total due (in Francs), then divide by five again to see how much change they owe me! It looks like an awfully convoluted method from the outside, but I suppose if you have been brought up with Francs then it's hard to change your ways. (After all, here in the UK we went metric in the 1970s, but even now if you ask someone's height/weight/temperature most of the older generation will still respond in feet & inches/stone & pounds/Fahrenheit and a significant proportion of the younger generation too.)

In summary, my advice is there is no need to clarify the currency unless you're well off the tourist trail. But if a price seems much too high to you, it won't hurt to ask "Francs or Ariary?"

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