In the early hours of Friday morning 26 September '08, my 16-year old schoolmate and I arrived in Mumbai to commence our 2.5 month long school exchange program in India, and walked straight into a traveller scam perpetrated by the Kamran Residency Hotel and its tout/s based at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
Our international flight landed before 00:30 on the 26th September '08, and our connecting flight to Delhi with Kingfisher Airlines was scheduled to depart from the Domestic airport in Mumbai after 5am that morning.
We were under strict instructions from our parents to take the FREE airport bus from the International Airport to the Domestic Airport upon our arrival in Mumbai. We dutifully exited the International arrival hall in Mumbai and followed the sign to the right marked "DOMESTIC AIRPORT", at which point the guard in a khaki uniform outside the International arrival hall (at approx. 1am) told us that the domestic airport was closed until later and that we should exit to the left instead, which exit was marked "CITY".
We protested to the guard that we wished to go to the DOMESTIC
Airport and NOT into the CITY, but the guard pointed us to a man on a chair that the guard said was an "airport official". This uniformed "airport official" told us that the domestic airport was closed at that early hour of the morning. A taxi-driver near the guard then asked to see our onward tickets from
Mumbai to Delhi and told us that he would take us to the "KINGFISHER" Hotel instead where we could rest until
our domestic flight was ready to depart 4 hours later, at approx. 5am.
The taxi-driver then promptly loaded us and our luggage into his
taxi and whisked us off the airport premises.
As we drove thru' a run-down residential area outside the International Airport, the taxi driver told us that the "cost" of the hotel would be 7,700 rupees. We were alarmed now to be faced with such a shockingly high quote for what was supposed to have been a free airport shuttle ride from the international airport to the domestic airport. We debated quietly amongst themselves that we had NO idea where we were, nor what the taxi driver might do to us if we protested and demanded
to be taken back to the airport, so we indicated to our
"abductor" that we had no Indian rupees on us as yet, just US dollars.
The driver then stopped at an ATM and purportedly withdrew the equivalent of US$200 in rupees from his own bank account.
When we arrived at the "KINGFISHER" hotel at approx. 1:30am, we discovered that its name was in fact the "KAMRAN RESIDENCY". The taxi driver then ushered us into the hotel and gave us 8,800 Indian rupees in exchange for US$200 - being US$100 from each of us. Once each of us had handed over our respective US$100 notes, the
taxi driver suddenly handed me back a US$10 note and
said that I'd given him the US$10 note instead of a US$100
Assuming the taxi driver was correct, I dutifully put the
US$10 he gave me back into my wallet and handed-over yet another US$100 note to the taxi driver who promptly took 7,000 Indian rupees from us and paid this over to the hotel.
When the hotel's porters delivered our luggage to the hotel room, they too demanded tips from each of us, insisting upon double the amount we offered them.
Shortly thereafter another porter delivered towels to the room and he too demanded a handsome tip, by which time we were starting to feel uneasy about the situation we were in. A quick
reconciliation of the contents of our wallets indicated that my classmate had paid US$100 to the taxi driver, and I was indeed short US$190 suggesting that the taxi driver had skilfully conned me out of an additional US$90 with his US$10 switch-trick which the driver had so smoothly executed.
Despite it being 2am we knocked on the door of the hotel room opposite our own and asked the man occupying that room how much he was paying for his stay there and he replied that he was quoted 2,000 rupees/night. We then went back to reception to locate the duty manager who "sympathetically" listened to our tale of how we'd been conned into coming to his hotel in the first place, then been swindled out of an extra US$90 by our money-changing taxi-driver/abductor and that over and above the rip-off rates the hotel was extorting from us for a FORCED 4-hour visit, the hotel porters were also demanding cash from us on frivolous pretexts.
The duty manager reduced our bill from 7,000 rupees to 5,500 rupees and sent us some food as compensation for the misfortune that his hotel the KAMRAN RESIDENCY and its unscrupulous tout/s and staff had subjected us to!
We left the hotel at 4.30am and mercifully made our flight
to Delhi on schedule.
It would seem from other accounts on the internet (see another similar review of the Kamran Residency Hotel on the website holidayiq.com) that this scam is a hallmark of the Kamran Residency Hotel in Mumbai!!!!
Travellers to Mumbai, BEWARE!!!!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC