Agra has its fair share of touts and con artists.

This is the biggest nuisance a visitor to Agra would face. Despite the many actions (including TV commercials) by the authorities this problem continues. The touts simply get mixed up with the otherwise genuine services available for the tourists.

So what does the tout want? and how to detect one?

The answer to the first question is simple, there is a vested financial interest.
The second part is a bit tricky but if you are alert it is easy to find that you are with a tout.

An unsolicited approach, despite your repeated 'NO' as an answer, is the first signal.
Some times you may even walk into one without you even knowing of it. If there is an unusual suggestion than what you are asking for, take it as a signal. For example you ask to get dropped at a place, instead of that you are offered for a tour of Agra at a 'concession' rate. Or even takes you to that 'world famous' leather shop en route while you asked to take you to the Taj!

In the middle of the night (or even during the day time) if the taxi or rickshaw driver pleads ignorance of the (hotel) location, smell the problem instinctively. The easiest thing is to get rid of the taxi at once and look for another one, who 'knows' that the place you asked for 'exits'. The whole idea of this 'ignorance game' is to take you to a hotel of his choice. From the hotel he gets a cut and you get a worse rate.

In all probability, when you are about to ditch the taxi and look for another, magic happens. Suddenly he remembers the place!

There were incidence where the taxi driver has taken unsuspecting tourists for hours around the city 'searching' for the hotel in which they have had reservation. Finally they decided to get the driver's 'help' to find another hotel. The next day they realized they've been duped and the hotel they were looking for was just round the round the corner.

There is nothing like "that hotel is closed" , "that hotel got guttered last week! " etc in Agra. Those are simply Cock & Bull stories to nudge you to a hotel that pays them a commission. Never accede to those suggestions however convincing is that piece of literature.

There are many aspects where you would come in contact with a tout and needs to be prudent. Railway stations, bus stands and the places around the monuments (in general where tourists land up) are all tout hot spots.

Arrange an over priced sightseeing, dupe with fake merchandise, take you to a hotel/shop that pays them commission, make you to pay for 'services' that are either free or not available are all the tout agendas.

There are no simple solutions.
Identify a tout from a genuine service provider. Sometimes it is quite difficult for even seasoned travelers.

Your best bet against a tout is your understanding of the situation. Do enough homework beforehand. Understand what is reasonable and what is not. Understand a broad topology of the city & routes beforehand. Do not hesitate to say No the moment you smell something fishy, even if you being a bit assertive.

The moment you can make them realize it, you are in the better negotiation position. After all you may need them for a service, but at your control.

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