Most of the scams in India are innocent – they will not endanger you but only make you pay something more than it’s worth.
Here are a few I faced, please let me know if you know of others as well:
barber scam- guy approaches you and offers to shave you- you arrange the price in advance as well. After he shaves you he gives you a neck massage, and head massage, even back massage- at the end he asks for a much bigger amount because he massaged you which was not included in first price
Currency scam- someone might offer you a boat ride, tour guide or some other service- after you agree on the price which is, let’s say 100, and when the service is provided, that someone will say he meant Dollars or Euros, not Rupees
Your hotel is closed scam- when entering one city by train or plain or bus, person (sometimes even carrying government badge) will approach to ask where you’re staying- and what a coincidence, your hotel/ guesthouse is closed. But don’t worry, the same person can provide excellent, and low-cost alternative. More about this scam
Free-gift scam- someone approaches you and offer to do the Henna (natural tattoo) for free because they like you or you’re their first customer today. They might offer any other service as well. After drawing few lines with Hanna they say that next few lines will cost you only 100 Rupees. And you realise that there is no such thing as a free lunch in India.
Added tax scam- you want to exchange the money and agree on the rate but suddenly you’re getting less money that you agreed upon- the reason- some imaginary tax that you need to pay. It can happen with taxi driver as well, taxi-meter says 500 but the price is 600 because of the same tax
Word of warning- sometimes extra taxis will be applied but that should be clear to you before you purchase the product or service.
If you know the regular price in advance tell the driver- can you take me to e.g. Leopolds Caffe for 100 Rupees? If he says no- leave to find another one. Chances are, he will go after you and say- 100 Rupees is OK.
If you ask for the price than the driver might say- 300 Rupees to Leopolds. If you try to lower it to 100 it might not work for you because the driver assumes that you don’t know how much it’s worth- if you did you would approach him with offered price.
If you don’t have an idea of how much the drive should cost you can ask a few taxi drivers or bluff and say “Leopolds caffe for 100 Rupees” although you have no idea how much it should cost.
Some taxis have taxi-meter. Unlike in Thailand where you want to pay by taxi-meter, in India some drivers have “broken” taxi-meters that show exaggerated prices.
This is my experience so please use it as a warning. I came to Delhi in the middle of the night by plane. I had a hotel pre booked so I felt safe. You have 2 options, to use regular taxi or a pre-paid taxi service. I was advised to use the prepaid taxi and that’s what I did. I asked the taxi driver if he knows the place I’m going to (hotel name) and he affirmed that he does. When we started our ride he asked me if this is my first time in India. I said “yes” and that was a big mistake. I should have said third time or something like that.
After some time of driving the driver says he doesn’t know where the hotel is. Funny thing about Delhi and India in general is that there are no street address. Our hotels address was “near main railroad”.
If taxi driver knows this is your first time in India he will take you to some tourist office where they will try to sell you another hotel, maybe even lie that your hotel is closed.
In my case the hotel was really closed, at least for me. The owner decided to sell my room to someone else although I paid it in advance. To cut the story short, I couldn’t find alternative accomodation in Delhi under reasonable price so I went to Rishikesh.
Arriving to delhi for first time – useful tips:
if your airplane arrives at night wait for the morning before leaving the airport. It’s safer and you’ll save money because taxis charge extra for night
Take pre- paid taxi. You’ll get a receipt which you need to keep until the driver brings you to the destination, than hand it to him. He will get paid only if he returns with the receipt. My driver asked me for receipt as soon as we left the airport and I was naive to hand it to him.
Tell taxi personnel that you have visited India 3 times already
Don’t accept any detours to tourist offices, other hotels etc.
If your hotel doesn’t have address than prepare detailed instructions on how to get to the place