Touts and All That
Heraclitus
India > India Travel Basics > India Travel > Scams and Annoyances in India
#16
| Member
I totally agree with kbarrett (above )

very well put !!!
#17
| You look, No Problem!
It was a really difficult experience with touts (especially at the main train station) when I first arrived in D-Town last year. Though over time it turned more into an entertaining exchange. I think it all depends on how you treat the person in front of you. One thing I am absolute convinced of: No other nation in the world is as good at hard sales as the touts and normal business workers in India! They really are too good- sometimes I had to buy something because their sale is just incredible! It gets really bad though when you're like the only tourist around and their are something like 50 Touts all trying to get YOU to buy something, take a jeep tour, go to their restaurant, give em a pen, take their picture....;)
#18
| Member

touts

on the subject of touts, i had one particular experience with a guy in delhi. because he listed websites (bootsnall.com in particular) to back up his story, i thought i'd do my small part to counter his lying here. i'm sorry shafi, but you didn't have to call my 'not nice' :)

---------------

Regarding:
http://www.bootsnall.com/cgi-bin/gt/...ke/apr27.shtml
http://www.bootsnall.com/cgi-bin/gt/...ke/jul01.shtml

I was walking down the Main Bazar in Delhi August 20th when Shafi approached me. He convinced me to visit his office and once inside he poured on the volumes of testimonials, including print outs of articles from BootsnAll (which I luckily remembered the URL for) that heartily endorsed his services and photo albums which were ostensibly sent back by happy campers. Perhaps they were happy campers, I guess it's quite possible -- though the whole Kashmir trip angle really makes me a bit suspicious -- as do the stacks of page-long testimonials written by past customers that begin 'When I entered Shafi's store I was skeptical but after 3 hours talking with him, I was convinced -- my embassy, Lonely Planet, everyone was wrong -- Kashmir is the living end.' Oh, and then there are the photo albums.

"Look at these photo albums," Shafi invites me, "they were written by some French girls who liked my package so much that they sent me an album back from France." Flipping through the very plain album I see a lot of pictures but the text is all impersonal, names of places and the like, and there's absolutely no message written anywhere in the album by these supposedly grateful girls. What can I say? I bet he just asked them if he could have a copy of their pictures too or, if he's as sly as some of the operators in Delhi, he just offered to develop their film for free and then secretely kept a copy of the prints for himself.

Anyway, he was really friendly that day and was trying to get me to agree to go on a golden triangle 3 day trip for $120 USD -- or, of course, the whole Kashmir trip if I had time later on. I said I'd think about the golden triangle and call him the next morning if I was interested and had sorted out my other travel plans. Well, I slept in and then sorting out my travel plans was tricky - first I discovered that one of the tickets I thought I had booked hadn't panned out, and so I arranged another ticket through another (western) travel agency. Then I ran into Shafi again. After some small talk in which I explained why I hadn't called him about the trip, he became a bit hostile.

"I sell plane tickets, you know. Why didn't you buy from me? ...You aren't balanced, you know. Really, there's something quite wrong with you. You are not nice!" he cried out as I walked away.

This is in addition to his initial come-on line, "You aren't as friendly as other Canadians - why won't you even talk to me? There isn't much point in coming to India if you aren't going to talk to Indians, you know."

I think that Shafi may be a great tour guide if you tell him exactly what you want up front or are prepared to play by his rules, but he is also another tout, uses all the tactics from sweet kindness to verbal abuse, and since the BootsnAll journal didn't makes this clear aside from a "Shifty Shafi" mention, I thought I'd mention it here (and here).
#19
| Member

mosques

I just thought I'd add that I was really caught off guard being scammed inside the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi. I dunno, something about it being a holy place, I didn't expect the gatekeeper, obviously sanctioned by the mosque, to extort me.
#20
| Member
I AM OFF TO INDIA NEXT TRIP AND AM INTERESTED IN THE "TOUT" SITUATION--EGYPT AND MORROCO ARE TOUT CAPITALS OF THE WORLD IN MY TRAVELS SO INDIA COULD BE INTERESTING---WHEN ASKED TO CHANGE MONEY ON THE STREET IN EGYPT[BLACKMARKET DAYS]I WOULD DEMAND 2 pounds 50 WHEN IT WAS 1 pound 70 AND THEY WOULD WALK AWAY SHAKING THEIR HEADS AND CALLING ME CRAZY
BUT THEY WALKED "AWAY" AND WORD GOT AROUND ABOUT A CRAZY WESTENER--NO MORE HASSELS FOR THE "CRAZY ONE" ---TRIED SAME APPROACH WHEN ASKED TO RIDE HORSE CART FOR 2 pound --NO WAY 1 pound WAS MY OFFER --STILL FOUND I,M CRAZY AND FROM THAT TIME FELT ON TOP OF SITUATION ,RELAXED AND HAD A BALL
CHEWBACCA
#21
| Senior Member
Compared to Morocco, I'd say India is about the same. I found more sex and personal guides for sale in Morocco, but more Indians want to take you to their brother-in-law's craft shop.
In both countries you're safe when you approach people, but you should be on guard when someone approaches you, even if they pretend to want to socialize and speak English.
Smaller places are fine, but there is absolutely no way I could find to get rid of the touts outside the Red Fort in Agra. They are overwhelming, and consequently they sell nothing, to me or anybody else I could see. It is amazing what poor sense of business many Indians have; they seem so desperate to sell that they turn off prospective customers. Some places you just go to because they are awesome (like the Red Fort) and you put up with the touts. They are trying to make a living, even if they're awkward, so you can hardly feel animosity towards them.
I do not think people are the same everywhere, so I disagree there with the poster above. They may be born the same, but a combination of social status, wealth, and local customs breeds touts or the lack thereof. Ecuador has few touts, while the main train stations in Italy, a rich country by any standard, had serious hasslers until fairly recently.
I found the streets of old Jaipur can be annoying; a stroll through Bharatpur, though, was relaxing and extremely enjoyable from a human point of view. My experience in India was that the less touristy places were better, which is no surprise.
I'm looking forward to my impending trip to south India. Three days to go!
Does anybody have experience with touts in Mamallapuram, my first destination?
#22
| Member
hi tomi--i agree people are different due to their economic placing in life but the way i approach touts is for my positioning in the contact..
i have been dealing with touts and scammers round the world since 1977 and have only once blown my cool outwardly..
my first trip to europe that year brought me face to face with scamming--a so called "official" photographer took a photo of me then requested 2 pounds and my hotel adress where he assured me it would be delivered and he just about had me till a london bobby appeared --this guy vanished as i angrily challenged his birth details--i LEARNED a valued lesson--6 years on i had a mate new to travel at buckingham palace where they had their "official"photographer who used same spiel on my friend who nearly tumbled--my answer heavily censored..
i guess i like being in control of the situation
whenever possible but i do not try to belittle them but try to out think them which most times i enjoy---it beats getting angry and loss of control
CHEWBACCA
#23
| Maha Guru Member
Tomi.... in Mamallapuram this guy started walking round the temples with us and just chatting....but then, of course, we had to go and look at his brother's carvings at some house.
#24
| Senior Member
Typical, Maree.

The most elaborate thing of that type I heard in India was this guy in Udaipur who was supposedly going later that year to do an art internship in Taos, New Mexico (well-chosen!). He gave me his e-mail (I later checked it and it bounced), praised various artists from Utamaro to Rafael (mostly name dropping), then told me his school was showing his graduation pieces. We followed him to the "school gallery", knowing full well what was going to happen: his uncle sold miniature paintings, copies of old Mughal art. These things are, by the way, good value in Rajasthan and they'll frame them for you for $5.

My general advice on touts and scams, and it works for me:
1. Never feel indebted to anyone just because they give you advice, tea, or friendship. Just walk out, no need to be impolite, but no need to apologize either. They knew what they were up to all along.
2. You don't have to pay the price quoted for a meal or a taxi ride even if you've already cosumed and didn't ask for the price in advance; the merchant has as much responsibility as you for quoting the price ahead of time if they want to charge you an exhorbitant amount. I admit it's perverse, but sometimes I don't ask the tuk-tuk driver ahead of time how much a ride is because I know it's worth 20 rupees and that's what I'm going to give him no matter what he asks. And he doesn't get mad.

All that aside, the US is the country with the most touts in the world: they are called telemarketers.

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