New scam at the Delhi Airport (impersonating pick-up staff!)

#1 Dec 14th, 2003, 00:15
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  • LuAnnandJawahar is offline
#1
Well, we hesitated to post this because we really don't have a solution to the problem of which to advise people .....but there is a new scam at the Delhi Airport. Some of guys in the booths across from the fence behind which the arriving passenger's friends, family and drivers are waiting, are copying the information from the signs drivers are holding up, making their own placard, and moving earlier down the line to catch the arriving passenger before the bonified driver gets a chance to catch his client. It hasn't happened to us yet, though we did miss someone coming in from Nepal last week, so maybe it has afterall. We know he was on the flight because we know someone at the airline who will tel us if our clients made their flight. But we never found him, and he has not answered our emails (not so unusual) or called us and he had our mobile #.

Our best advice if you have prearranged your transportation from a hotel or elsewhere is to ask to see a business card to prove you are going with the right guy. And when you make your advance arrangements, get a phone number so if you have any doubts, you can call before you get in the car with somebody.
Reject violence.
#2 Dec 14th, 2003, 01:25
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  • picklepak is offline
#2
Eek! Now that's low!! I hate to say it, in India of all places, but someone who does that deserves a good jab in the gut and some harsh words to put him out of service for a little while. And I'm a huge proponent against violence! It is just terrible that scam artists would do that. I don't know what else you could do, except try to grab their sign and rip it up -- which no doubt will also cause a confrontation. Why doesn't the government do something about the scams at the airport? I've heard of so many people who've canceled the rest of their vacation and left India after a few days because of getting sucked into scams right from the airport (admittedly, sometimes due to their of naiivity -- and yes I've been there too). People who arrange for pickup at the airport do so to *avoid* this sort of hassle, and that's the very reason they pick reputable tour agencies to ease the transition. Thanks for letting us know about this new scam!

Jeez, can you tell I've been in Canada for too long?
#3 Dec 14th, 2003, 02:07
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#3
Namaste India Tours,
Perhaps you could try giving the arriving passenger a "keyphrase", just some quote or other, different each time, and give a copy to the driver on a slip of paper to keep in his pocket. Give the customer the phrase when the book, and tell them to check the driver is legit by insisting on seeing the paper before they leave with him.
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#4 Dec 14th, 2003, 02:39
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  • Tanuki is offline
#4
Namaste, I stayed at a hotel in Belize last year that had a solution to this problem. They told guests ahead of time that the driver would be holding up a computer-printed name sign, and not a hand-lettered one!
#5 Dec 14th, 2003, 03:46
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  • Tomi is offline
#5

gosh, this scam had never even crossed my mind

Quote:
Originally posted by picklepak
Jeez, can you tell I've been in Canada for too long?
Yes, pickles, because of the suggestion of violence
In my several trips to India the only violence I encountered was
a) street dogs, and
b) me (I exploded several times when people made me mad)

For all the scams and inconsiderate commerce in India, it must be admitted that when it comes to violence and mugging, it can't compare to North America, and at that more our country than yours.

Now seriously and on topic, a lot of these taxi pickups are paid in advance or paid by the hotel with a voucher. So it's a delicate scam to pull off. If you are taken to the right place, you might not have to pay at all. How do these guys know they will be paid? It's certainly complicated. I'd say you have to know where you're going and a little bit of how to get there, so you don't end up elsewhere, no matter what else you do.
#6 Dec 14th, 2003, 05:07
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  • LuAnnandJawahar is offline
#6
In theory, it is not a problem for our clients, as the drivers have both a duty slip and a business card from us. Also we tell people to look for a plastic placard and not a paper one, which is what the touts are using right now. But these guys can adapt easily, it is fascinating. They can certainly get ahold of a piece of plastic to use.
On the bright side.....these kinds of scams are indefensible, but rarely harmful. Chances are you may even get where you were supposed to go, you'll just be giving your rupees to the wrong company!
#7 Dec 14th, 2003, 12:24
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  • timmy is offline
#7
In my case I'll probably arrange to be picked up by my hotel -- so I guess the best thing for me to do will be to ask the 'driver' what the hotel is called (as if I've forgotten). If he can't name my hotel that'd be enough warning.
#8 Dec 14th, 2003, 16:29
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  • kolobar is offline
#8
Kashmiris solved that problem long ago. They use (complicated) passwords to prevent their clients being taken away by competitive houseboat owners.
#9 Dec 15th, 2003, 20:00
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  • Alan D is offline
#9

The Eagle has Landed???

So now it's going to be whispered secret passwords.

Thanks, Namaste India Tours, for the update on arriving at Delhi airport. The situation there seems to become more amd more bizarre.

Why can't the airport authorities or the police do something about this? Either they don't care whether arriving foreign tourists are hi-jacked, misinformed and led a merry dance around Delhi, or some of their members are in on these scams.

It's not just taking people to the wrong hotel though - that's just the beginning. Then come the other pressures - to book up on expensive tours, and go shopping. The fact is that this is all one big commission racket with various people of dubious morals trying to latch onto new inexperienced arrivals with money to spend at their point of entry to India. Strangely enough it doesn't seem to be so prevalent at the other major airports. I think a lot of this began when the tourist trade collapsed in Kashmir some years ago.

It looks like they're getting a little desperate though, so maybe the guidebooks and forums like this one are having an effect.
#10 Dec 15th, 2003, 20:41
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  • beach is offline
#10

'professionally made' placards

Generally all the professional tour operators & hotels you have booked/arrange pickup has the 'professionally made' placards. The hotel/operator name the logo are printed on top of this. Your name could be written or computer printed on this placard. Even the driver's uniform with hotel name, logo etc also can give you a good clue. Ask for a business card or any other identity proof.


It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
#11 Dec 15th, 2003, 20:45
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#11
The tourist trade in India has always been well aware that the vast majority of visitors are on a once-in-a-lifetime trip and will not be returning to the country. If they mis-treat, mis-inform, mis-charge etc etc, the client is often long gone by the time they figure it out, and not likely to return in person to get it straightened out, even if they are still in the country when they realize what has happened. This puts the visitor at a real disadvantage.

What the tourist trade is just beginning to figure out is that "we" (in this case meaning the visitors) talk to each other via this wonderful invention called the internet. Now if you have an issue with the way a company treats you can get get on a forum and report it real time. It really is just beginning to register with the tourist trade that there are things they just can not get away with as easily as before.

The downside for those of us in the business is that rival companies or disgruntled clients can also spout off negative things about you that may not be true and too easily ruin your reputation, at least temporarily.

Two bits of advice:
1. Never tell anyone when you got to India, how long you are going to be there, or when you are leaving (unless ofcourse you are arrange an airport pickup or drop off).
2. When negotiating with a travel agent for any service,even bus ticket and such, make it clear that at such and such a time (don't be specific) you will be passing through again. Suprisingly, most agencies and even merchants, will refund your money if you are in front of them and make your case well. I swear to God I will return to Pushkar even if it takes me two years, and complain about that luxury bus they put me on. HA!
#12 Dec 16th, 2003, 04:41
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#12
Thanks for the heads up about that one, could have been very dodgy, I've emailed my hotel (hotel good times - what a name ) so hopefully it won't happen to me.
#13 Dec 16th, 2003, 12:24
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  • india-welcomes.com is offline
#13
Hi all

Greetings from India !!!

i will go with member "beach" ...all travel professionals have their placard proffesional done with their LOGO and with a computer printout of the names of their respective clients, always with a escort with driver, LOGO's on the vehicle, driver with a duty slips, and escort presents their business card to the clients.

all these things told in advance to the clients by email with details what kind of placard our client should be looking for ...like the LOGO design is forwarded to the client in advance.

cheers 4 u all

TEAM INDIA-WELCOMES.com
#14 Dec 16th, 2003, 18:28
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I'm sure all the reputable and professional tour companies are going to be well organised to combat this scam - it's very much in their interests not to have their paying customers hi-jacked.

I was thinking more of those people making their own hotel and travel arrangements, possibly the majority of foreign tourists arriving at Delhi Airport.

It now seems like a good idea that those who have arranged hotel pick-ups should get in touch with their hotel and let them know (if they don't already know) about this scam. They could then make sure that they are going with the right driver by an exchange of some kind of information, not known to anyone else.

I agree that nothing can be made 100% foolproof because whatever motivates these guys - whether it's greed or desperation, they will soon be back with more tricks.

About the once in a lifetime visit and people thinking that there will be no comeback on sharp practices - this would seem to me to be a self fulfilling prophecy. India cannot afford, with it's small share of world tourism, to have visitors flying out vowing never to return because of the actions of some irresponsible touts. The hopeful scenario for foreign tourism in India would be that people make repeated visits to the country.
#15 Dec 16th, 2003, 20:32
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  • LuAnnandJawahar is offline
#15
Exactly.

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