Scams in New Delhi: The price of a train ticket‏
rosscameron
India > India Travel Basics > India Travel > Scams and Annoyances in India
#1
| Member

Scams in New Delhi: The price of a train ticket‏

Go grab a coffee. This one takes a while!

Taken from my blog - www.newadventuresinbackpacking.com

I now consider myself a fairly seasoned backpacker. As well as seeing and doing a lot of things, I have become used to locals trying to take advantage of backpackers. It’s all part of the game and I don’t actually have a problem with it. They know that if I am in their country I must have money. In most cases a lot more money than them and in most places I’ve been the locals will go the distance in an attempt to wean that money off you.

However none of my previous experiences can compare with what I have witnessed in just four days in India. It’s so sly, it’s almost impressive.

Here is my attempt to buy a ticket out of Delhi:

My first attempted scam came by the way of a fellow called Anji who walked past me on the street and complimented my ear piercing, asked a few of the standard questions asked of tourists, e.g. where I’m from, how long am I in India and of course where was I going. I was attempting to find Connaught Place (centre of Delhi) and he assured me he was going in that direction for a birthday party. All the way there he assured me that he was just practicing his English and wanted to help as he was coming to England next year to be a doctor and maybe I could help (meaning pay) him when I got back there. He told me he would take me to a government tourist office so I could get a good map and he dropped me off there. I will admit whilst talking to him, he seemed very genuine and the “government tourist office” were very very helpful, booking me on a day trip round Delhi at quite a cheap rate for the next day.
This is not an officail travel office!

This is not an officail travel office!

On the way out to dinner later that night just outside my hotel, I caught the attention of another guy on the street. This time it was to stop me from going into my chosen restaurant that night rather than admire my ears. Somehow, he could tell I was new in Delhi. We chatted a bit about London and Scotland and next thing I know he’s inviting me into his office for some chai for a chat about India. When I get there, I suspected right away that this was a scam. There were pics on the wall of his supposed uncle who apparently was friends with Michael Palin. A letter of recommendation that didn’t look that formal from the Rector of the UCL in London as well as supposedly some press clippings from a Danish newspaper that had allegedly done a feature on them. They also had a logo claiming to be an associate of STA Travel (student company in the UK) but it was just written in white paint with no STA logo to be seen.

They assured me that the previous “tourist office” were scam artists (which later turned out to be true) and that because of his wonderful reputation if I brought him the receipt he would call them up and get my money back. All out of the goodness of his heart. He then, like the previous guy, mapped out a 17 day trip for me taking in all the sights of Rajasthan and showed me leaflets for some very swanky hotels. At this point I knew they were totally at it. He did his sums and told me this trip with my own shuttle bus would cost a mere $530 gbp. I made my excuses assuring them that I was so hungry but once I had finished eating I would be back with my receipt.

The next day after the tour, which wasn’t in anyway a rip off and proved beyond any doubt that the STA guys from the night before were scam artists. Though all it was in fact was a sweetener for when I returned to the first ‘government tourist office’ and boy they really put the effort in on my return. This was also where I found out that almost anyone call themselves “Government Tourist Office” or “Dehli Tourist advice”. Almost the same deal as the STA boys, but a lot cheaper $350gbp to exact. They assured me that all the trains were booked and that the only way to get out of Delhi was to take a shuttle bus or private car. They even called up the train company for me who took the trouble of speaking to me and taking my name and asking where I wanted to go but wait! Everywhere because of the high tourist season was booked out and the earliest I could get out of Delhi was the 12th and no one in their right mind would want to stay here that long.

The phone call really threw me; maybe the shuttle bus was the only way to go? Maybe I would have to part with $350 gbp to go on this trip just to get out of here. They actually had me until the phone rang again. Apparently it was an English girl who they had booked earlier that day and she wanted to tell me I should definitely go along, would be great to have another Brit come along. I sat there in disbelief, the accent was so over exaggerated it was clearly a fake. I could not believe they thought they were going to pull this off. How stupid did they think I was? They had someone in an office presumably set up to dupe stupid tourists, taking fake railway calls and getting people to mimic whatever foreigner was in the office at the time. So sneaky, so sly, so much effort and in the end kind of amusing really.
New Delhi train station - Where the fun really begins!

New Delhi train station - Where the fun really begins!

So now having guessed that there probably were trains out of Delhi I went to the train station to seek out the ticket office to book in person. Even that is not simple in Delhi. There are scam artists everywhere trying to get you to go to their official tourist office. I got caught out by one guy who took me to the ‘tourist office’, which was a grotty, little office across the street from the train station. He did a mock search for trains and low and behold no trains out of Delhi. The only way to go was by his tourist bus priced at 12 gbp. Twelve pounds goes a long way in Delhi, certainly longer than a bus journey. So out of that official tourist office I went too.

It was quite fun trying to find the real official office (its on the 2nd floor of New Delhi train station for those who wondered). Touts telling me it’s over there, it’s on the other side of town, it’s closed, it burnt down, and at long long last I found myself in the right place talking to a guy who didn’t have rupee signs on his mind telling me that I could get plenty trains out of Delhi for about the equivalent of $6gbp.

Alot cheaper than the $530gbp of the previous night!

At times frustrating, but all part of the fun and experience.

I do wonder how many people fall for this. None of these guys looked like they were starving and struggled to be well turned out so I presume scamming tourists is a very lucrative market in Delhi.
www.newadventuresinbackpacking.com

7 Replies

#2
| Senior Member
Excellent post Ross!

Welcome to Delhi! I already knew about the scammers before I went to Delhi and still I got misled as I approached New Delhi train station.

After we figured out where the real Tourist Reservation Center was it all became a game. We would go along with them for a while and listen to their fake advice before turning the tables on them. It's the one's who are smartly dressed that are the worst. They even work together in groups. So my advice, anyone who approaches you and compliments you on your appearance or clothes are not your friend, they just want $$.

Your post made me laugh alot, brilliant.
#3
| Member
Thanks Anna Very kind of you. I will only post stuff on here that is relevant to the forums but feel free to check out my blog for more India related stuff.
www.newadventuresinbackpacking.com
#4
| Senior Member
Yes i've been reading your blog, very cool, i've added it to my IE favorites!

I heard Rajasthan is beautiful, there is nothing like the desert and stars. I remember the night train from Avignon to Lille too, Indian trains are insane, thats why they're better. I had to laugh when I saw Mr Grumpy as I just mentioned him in my journal a few days ago, it's a small world!
#5
| Member

Originally posted by: anna paradox View Post

Yes i've been reading your blog, very cool, i've added it to my IE favorites!

I heard Rajasthan is beautiful, there is nothing like the desert and stars. I remember the night train from Avignon to Lille too, Indian trains are insane, thats why they're better. I had to laugh when I saw Mr Grumpy as I just mentioned him in my journal a few days ago, it's a small world!


Haha. It suits my morning mood!

Sat in cattle class on a train squatting next to the toilet for four hours yesterday. Insane indeed.
www.newadventuresinbackpacking.com
#6
| Amreeki OCIcat
Nice post and great blog, Ross. That "tourist office" is rather big, and official looking. That's a hell of a con they have going on. Indians get conned too, I know I have and I'm sure I will again.
#7
| Maha Guru Member
One of the oldest and perhaps most profitable scams in Delhi. At least it didn't involve a houseboat in Kashmir..
#8
| Naan.tering Nabob

Originally posted by: rosscameron View Post



My first attempted scam came by the way of a fellow called Anji who walked past me on the street and complimented my ear piercing


Enough clues there to do an Husain Bolt runner. A street stranger named Anji (the Kashmiri) who operates near Connaught Place and leads with compliments on your 'bling' ain't interested in your 'bling' .... he's interested in your pocket book.

Most likely your 'bling' has helped him place you in a certain demographic of the backpacker class that are often more approachable & may well pay larger dividends on a more regular basis.

Yes, beware of any form of a 'Sahib Job' as an ice-breaking street gambit.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot

http://www.derekgrantdigital.com

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