10.05.2010

Ripped Off

Have you ever felt like you were being cheated? Like you go to a remote island and the bottled waters are 8 dollars, or a baseball game and the hot dogs are the same price? At least there is a sign that says, HOT DOG $8, so you KNOW if you buy that hot dog, you are going to be paying too much. But you have the choice in the beginning to choose if you want to pay too much or not.

In India, you often don’t get that choice. Nobody has prices posted. Everything is a haggle and oftentimes you don’t know where the starting price is. We had an incident that I am going to share with you not only to vent but in case anyone else is going to this place, hopefully if they google it, they will see this review and be forewarned.

To everyone who is traveling in India -- If you go to Jaisalmer and are hoping to do a camel tour, DO NOT go to the Jaisal View Hotel (which may pass itself off as the Rajdhani Hotel). The guy there is a crook. His name is Mr. Kahn (MK).

We had read in the guide book that it was a pain in the butt to try to figure out which camel tour operator to use, as they all claim to be “the best in town” and to “have the best service”. However, the book says that you do not always get what you pay for. I can agree to that.

We were already on our toes, as from what we had heard when you get off the bus in Jaisalmer you are swamped with rickshaw (taxi) drivers trying to give you a ride to the “best hotel”. What happens is that they tell you the hotel you want is closed and they will take you to another good one. This “good one” gives them a commission. So, we were “recommended” a place by a guy in the last town we were in (Jodhpur) who said it was owned by his brother. I have a feeling this guy was not a brother, but just another person who gets commission for the “recommendation”. However, we didn’t figure this out until later.

When we got to the bus station, a guy got on the bus and said, “aren’t you coming from Jodhpur? My brother said to look for you” and we were. He said, “I will take you to  your hotel, the one that my brother told you to go to“. I wonder how many “brothers” these guys have. Then we got off the bus and another guy said “oh you must be coming from Jodhpur. My brother told me you were coming”. So they all just say the same thing. Finally we found the “brother”, the owner of the hotel that we had been recommended, and he took us to the hotel, which turned out also to not be the hotel on the brochure that the “brother” had shown us.

We should have known. Once we arrived, Mr. Kahn wouldn’t leave our side. We wanted a cold drink; he sat next to us the whole time we drank it. Then he asked if we wanted to do a camel trek. Of course we did and we thought we would just see what he had to say, what the heck. Well, his game was to tell us the tours and the prices, which were quite high and then when I asked about doing only 2 days instead of three, he knocked a couple thousand rupees off the price. So we thought it didn’t seem too expensive (and we had just gotten a good deal, right), so we said okay. Now that I look back, I see little things that I should have seen before. For example when I said we needed some time to think about it and discuss it over, he said he had to inform the camel boss by 5 o’clock and it was already 445, so we had to tell him in the next ten minutes. He just didn’t want us to go out and look at other prices. For that same reason he was hanging about, not giving us any private time. He also told us not to tell anyone that we got our tour cheaper than the regular price because they may be jealous or start trouble. So when a girl asked us how much we paid, we told her. They had been told the same thing -- you are getting a really good deal, so don’t tell anyone.

I wish we would have gone and looked at other prices beforehand. The tour was mediocre. The service was not good. The items he promised were not delivered. After we got back we decided to torture ourselves and compare prices. The other tours were cheaper with the same “special” services. Plus one we looked at even let you pay half now and half after and if you weren’t satisfied you didn’t have to pay the second half. Now that sounds more reasonable to me.

I just feel so stupid when I know I have been ripped off. And we realized it right in the beginning but had already paid. So, in order to feel a little bit better, I have vented here, plus I will give the details so if anyone else finds this, hopefully they will go somewhere else. Then my revenge will be complete. Mooowhhhahahahaha (that was a Dr Evil laugh).

So, please. If you are going on a camel trek, DO NOT GO to the Jaisal View Hotel in Jaisalmer. The guy said his name was Mr. Kahn (who knows if it is his real name). He will lie to you. I would also watch out for the Hotel Rajdhani as well, because I don’t know what the scam is but they may be in on it as well.

THE DETAILS: (avoid these places!!)

Hotel Rajdhani - Jaisalmer Old City, Near Patwan Ki Haveli
Jaisal View Hotel - near the Artists Lodge on the north side of town

THE PRICES:

We got ripped off. We paid 9300 Rupees for 2 nights, 3 days, 2 people. At first he wanted 12,000 for the two of us.

POSSIBLE BETTER OPTIONS:

-Hotel Peacock, Chainpura Street, Gandhi Chowk -- 950 per day per person, as many days as you want. This is the place that said you could pay half later if you enjoyed the trip.
-Renuka Hotel (next to Hotel Peacock)-- 1 night, 2 days = 1900 a person, plus 950 per day for extra day
-Trio Restaurant, Gandhi Chowk -- the guy that owns the Trio also arranges trips for 2000/day per person. These are with a tent and a toilet and the same cooks as he has at the restaurant and all the amenities. (PS they have really good food and a view of the fort!)

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