India can be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. You think of a travel scam and India has it all. Don’t get us wrong, I am not trying to scare you; most Indian people don’t go around scamming tourists. But there are people who thrive on scamming and robbing unsuspecting tourists. Here’s a story I would like to share with travellers to India. It was sent to me by a fellow tourist to India and it is my duty to advise people to be careful.
I have just been reading your travel advice for India and it has been really helpful. I just wanted to a share an experience my husband and I had at Delhi train station on 16th Nov. We had booked the 6.45 am train to Dehradun and had arrived at the station found the departure board and couldn’t see our train. Our Airbnb host has told us the train usually goes from platform 1. A well dressed English speaking man approached us and explained that the board was not working and guided us to a more official looking English speaking man who asked us where we were going and told us that our train had been cancelled. He told us that a pre paid taxi had been arranged and when I asked to see his ID. He just spoke louder with more authority and wrote an address down saying that all would be sorted at the Tourist Office DTDC at the Baba Kharak Singh Marg.
They then ushered us into a taxi before we really had time to collect our thoughts together. We were taken to a travel agent who proceeded to tell us we would have to pay 21,000 rupees to fly to Dehradun he also phoned the coach station and handed us the phone to speak to a man in English who told us there were no coaches for the next 4 days. We realised we had been scammed and demanded that the taxi that had brought us to the travel agent took us back to the station.
I had been trying to phone our Airbnb host in Delhi but we had no signal in the travel agent and conveniently no Wi-Fi. There were 2 men in the taxi one who spoke very good English and tried to make out that he didn’t know the man at the station who had put us into his taxi, he said the man at the station had said that we had asked to go to the travel agent. So he took us to another travel agent and he said he could arrange something for £200. Luckily at this point I finally managed to speak to our host who told us to come back to her and we would sort something out. She was so shocked and told us the trains never get cancelled. We were put into a taxi and the driver offered to drive us to Dehradun for 6,000 rupees.
We went back to our lovely friend in Delhi who helped us organise an air conditioned Volvo bus at 12.30 that day for 700 rupees each! We felt so stupid for having been taken in. I think we fell for all their reasoning about the currency shortages and the fact we couldn’t see our train on the board, the fact that they spoke very good English and were very convincing and it was only our second day in Delhi and we were overwhelmed by the train station. What we should have done in hindsight is taken a porter, as we now know having travelled a few times by train. They know exactly what train goes where. So my advice to anyone travelling by train is to get one of the official porters wearing the red scarves and they have metal arm band stating they are official to help them if they are in any doubt! I hope this helps some of your readers and that sharing our experience prevents others from falling for the same scam.
It all worked out in the end and we really enjoyed our coach ride which we would not have experienced if we had not been scammed! Apart from this experience we have had a truly incredible time in India!!!!
Kind regards Julia