This scam involves overly helpful young men and shops pretending to be something that they are not.
Around the ever decreasing circles of Connaught Place there are lots of young men offering their help to lost looking foreigners. Don’t be fooled, these boys aren’t really that friendly.
“Yes, the one with the nice blue sign. I see it” I nodded at the young man as he pointed to the shop just along the street. I’ve heard the line a hundred times before.
“Yes, great. I’m sure that it is a government approved tourist shop.” I said smiling back.
I was not budging. My new friend knew that he needed to think of something else to try and entice me in.
“There’s a free map. Come. I’ll show you.” I pointed to my bag and explained that I had the Eicher Road Map of Delhi and it is the best in business.
I knew that there would be another line coming. There had to be. And I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
“Yes, I’m sure you will get me a very good price for a travel ticket, but I am not going anywhere.” I replied.
Not convinced, ignoring my answers, my new friend started off all over again. Tourist shop, government approved, good prices, free map. And on and on and on.
Many shops in and around CP have blue signs that say they are government approved tourist shops or centres. The shop may well have been approved by the government for something (and it may well have a blue sign), but it’s not a publically owned enterprise offering tourists independent and impartial advice.
The young men preying on confused foriegners around CPs circles are not kind and generous souls either. They want to gain your trust and take you to a “government approved tourist centre” to take some cash from you in the form of a hefty commission.
And the free map they use to entice you in – it’s rubbish. Well, it’s a rubbish map.
Some of these youngsters will try a different tack to try to engage with tourists. The line that they want to practice their English is a favourite before they start off on the travel ticket sales patter. Don’t believe it. Walk on by.
Wondering where the real deal is when it comes to tourist services ? It’s called the Central Reservation Office and it is located at Coffee Home-1, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, New Delhi-110001. Phone numbers 23365358 & 23363607.