I never used to think twice about the change I was being given or the prices I was being charged in New Zealand, besides we barely use cash so any overcharges on my cards can be disputed at the bank. Unfortunately, I took that bad habit to India.
One day while I was staying in a hotel off the busy main market in Karol Bagh, New Delhi, I went to the store with just 100 rupees in my pocket. That was my budget to get a few drinks. I picked up 5 Tropicana juice packets worth 20 rupees each and went to the cashier. He said, “120 rupees.” I knew the MRP (Maximum Retail Price) printed on the drinks was just 20 rupees each. “Why are you charging me 20 rupees more?”, I asked. He quickly said, “Oops, sorry.”
I realised that same week that the same thing was happening at the Mother Dairy store at the end of the road. The cashier was charging me 20 rupees for 500 ml of milk when the MRP was 15. When I told him, he just looked at me and handed me my 5 rupee change. From then onwards he began charging me the MRP.
That’s when I realised I’d probably been getting overcharged for weeks. Since I started scrutinising my bills and change, I’ve found countless cashiers trying to give me incorrect change. Sometimes it’s small, sometimes it’s hundreds of rupees. It’s so frequent that it happens every couple of days to me in Delhi.
Now when it happens, I stand there and keep looking at the cashier, and then they re-open their cash drawer and hand over the rest of the change. They know what they’ve done, they’re just trying to make a quick buck off an unsuspecting foreigner. Not anymore though, and not from you either now!
How to Avoid Being Overcharged in Stores in India
- Always check the MRP (Maximum Retail Price) printed on products. By law, retailers can’t charge above them!
- Always know, at least roughly, what your total bill will be.
- Always check that the change given is correct.
- If you’re at a store with a computer system, make sure you take the receipt and double check it while leaving the store.
You also need to avoid counterfeit money in India too. Check out my India Survival Guide (Quick-Start Safety Guide) book for full info and photos on how to do that.