The incident narrated below is two to three weeks old. However, the reason I am writing about this now is that I came across similar incidents happening to others recently. The purpose of this post is to raise awareness about these incidents of misconduct.
My friend and I were on a trip from Delhi to Mandi. We had booked a volvo and it was quite a pleasant journey until the bus stopped around midnight at a dhaba for dinner. Four to five buses were already parked there.
Going through the menu, we decided to order two aloo parathas and two cups of tea. The parathas were ₹70 each, and though we felt they were a bit overpriced, we still went ahead with ordering them. However, when the waiter brought the parathas, we felt better because he had brought some dal and some raayta too in same thali, along with the two parathas. The food was okay and we hadn’t really expected much, dying of hunger as we were.
Just when we were talking our last sips of tea, we heard some commotion at the billing counter. A group of four to five passengers from the other bus were having some issue with the man at the counter. It looked funny from a distance because only one person was arguing violently, while three to four others were trying to pull her back (it was just like a scene from a movie). We later realised that it was actually because their bus had already started moving and therefore they couldn’t afford to waste time arguing. They all rushed towards the bus and were able to get onboard before it left.
By the time we completed our meal, all other buses had left and our driver too was moving towards our bus. At the counter, we paid ₹200. The payment ought to have amounted to ₹180 (₹140 for the parathas and ₹40 for the tea). Even at that moment, another customer was having an argument over pricing. Since our bus was about to leave, we again approached the counter to make the payment. However, the person at the counter looked at us and said that our bill amounted to ₹520.
Yes, ₹520 for what actually should have been ₹180. Why? He said that we took two thalis and 2 cups of tea – each thali cost ₹190. We protested, saying that we had ordered only two parathas and two cups of tea, not thalis. The person who served us the food said that we had been told that parathas could not be purchased separately but were included as part of a thali.
There was clearly foul play. We had thought of the dal and raayta as complimentary but they had counted it as two thalis.
When we said that nothing like that was mentioned to us, he argued that we did have the dal, didn’t we? We again emphasized that since we hadn’t been informed about the thali, we thought of the dal as complimentary. But our efforts were in vain.
There were five to six of them. Initially, they were all on one side of the counter. However, when the argument dragged on for two to three minutes, two of them moved behind us, as if to surround us, if we ran. They were adamant – whether we had ordered it or not, since we had eaten it, we had to pay.
I looked back and realised that our bus had started moving. I gave my wallet to my friend and went to the bus driver to request him to wait for some time. Perhaps he too was used to all this and therefore, he asked me to make it quick.
We tried to clarify multiple times but then we realised that they had done this intentionally. There was no further sense in continuing to argue with them. We finally said that this wasn’t right to which they said that they knew what was right and what wasn’t.
The only thing they listened to was to reduce the number of thalis to one because only one thali had actually been sent to us. Anyway, we couldn’t understand how they had arrived at a final bill of ₹520. Finally, we paid a bill of ₹360 and rushed to the bus.
We were angry, but we felt helpless too.
We almost forgot about the incident until last week when a friend of mine from Himachal Pradesh narrated a very similar incident which had happened to him some time back.
And then, we came across this post where someone who opposed this was beaten up with rods.
Clearly, they follow two very simple tricks: first, to overprice items on their menu only to those who seem to be from a different state because they are likely to be alone and helpless. The second trick is the timing – they do this when the bus is about to leave. In all the incidents, these two things were common, which makes it very obvious that they are pre-planned.
In the end, we would restate the purpose of writing this post – to create awareness and to avoid getting robbed by such people.