It hadn’t been 5 minutes since I cleared customs in Delhi when a young Indian guy asked me if I needed a taxi and lead me to his green and yellow car sitting right outside of the airport. I knew better, but want to see what he was up to. The entire time he was rather talkative, asking questions about where I was from and doing in India – none of which I answered truthfully. Then I asked him how far away the hotel was, “25 kilometers” he replied for 3875 rupees (~$89 dollars).
Of course I didn’t get in, I went over to a prepaid taxi stand, paid 270 rupees ($6.20) for a short 5km trip down the road to my hotel.
I read about such cons at Indian airports before my previous trip to Bangalore, but it’s easy for someone to get taken in the confusing atmosphere outside of the terminal. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to avoid getting ripped off (or worse) with a few simple precautions.
Always Get Your Cab From A Prepaid Taxi Stand – These government-run booths are located toward the exit of the major airports with bold yellow signs. The prices are set by the state and the licensed drivers can be trusted to take you straight to your destination. You will also be provided an official receipt after prepaying.
Know Your Rates – Make sure to ask your hotel, business partner, or the people you’re visiting to give you an estimate on how much and how long it will take you to get to your destination. (The receipt given to you by the prepaid taxi stand clerk will have the price. Include about 50 rupees for tip.)
Keep Your Bags Within Eyesight At All Times – Don’t let someone else, even your driver, carry your bags or pull your suitcase for you. Mostly it’s benign but until you are in the cab with your bags you run the risk that someone will run off with your stuff.
Watch For Other Tip Offs – These are signs that you might be close to getting hustled.
- Very talkative/inquisitive driver – A legitimate driver isn’t likely to care about your personal life or interests in India.
- Unmarked cars – Although a green and yellow car may also be scam trap if you decide to forgo the prepaid taxi services, an unmarked car is a dead giveaway…not to mention potentially very dangerous.
- The driver tells you the place is farther away than you know it is – 25 kilometers is not 5.
Finally, it’s still possible to get ripped of by a taxi driver, even if you follow all of the precautions above. Whenever you get ripped off, it’s best to use your judgement, but I’d recommend avoiding confrontations. Losing a few bucks is one thing, losing a few teeth is another.
Taxi scams are only one of 13 elaborate schemes you need to be aware of to stay out of trouble. Keep your wits about you and travel smarter and safer!
Even domestic travelers to new destinations are tricked by taxi drivers. Foreigners means easy money.
My first time here & glad I found you.
Well, besides the pts mentioned by you I get harassed by something more.
In Delhi, whenever I come out of the airport (after buying a pre-paid tkt), invariably there would be 2 ppl sitting in the front giving some lame excuses. I always have to ask them to get rid of either. Being a woman I know the crime situation in Delhi.
Also, after reaching your destination, they’d ask for extra money for luggage whereas you’d have already paid for it. Or knowing how much money they gonna get, they try to take short cut to the destination.
Some more pts are there but some other time. 🙂
It’s great to have discovered you as well!
I think in India traveling as a woman presents even more challenges, thanks for the perspective. I’ve always wondered what it might be like to travel as a woman.
Excellent point about the luggage as well, I haven’t seen it tried on me, but could easily happen.
Such cheaters really spoil our reputation. What is sad is that a tourist gets cheated when he has hardly set his foot in India and gets to know of this scam only when he talks to his hosts. I know it won’t help but I sincerely apologize for all these things you might have faced. Trouble is, when you are a billion+, you would have all kinds of people, good the bad and the ugly. There was a report some months back when a woman garbage collector in Mumbai found gold jewellery worth Rs 9 Lakhs (900,000) and reported it to the police who traced the owners.
That said, India is such a large and complex place that even for an Indian being fleeced is very common. Most Indians are likely to lose their bearings if they are more than 50-100 kms outside from their usual habitat. A taxi drivers in Jaipur is going to do it to a tourist from Delhi and vice versa. I have been fooled in buying a silver (so called pure) tumbler in Jaipur for some Rs 900 when it turned out it was just a cheap alloy. And it was sold with a receipt !!! He knew I would be unlikely to do all that travel back to Jaipur for a sum of Rs. 900. This fleecing goes on in almost all famous tourist places save a few honest shopkeepers/taxi drivers etc.
By the way, your first name being Anil, do you have any Indian consanguinity?
No need to apologize at all! These things happen and I’ve been to India several times and absolutely love traveling there. In every country there are good and bad people but thankfully the good and the overwhelming majority.
You can get scammed anywhere like you say in your own country even if you are not familiar with the locale you are in. Scammers will try to take advantage of any opportunities they can.
As for my name, I know it’s very common in India but I’m Turkish. It’s also used in Turkey, but not nearly as common there. It was quite confusing for people when I was in India actually and an explanation each time!