Fake Student Punting Scammers Run Amok in Cambridge

IMG_0484 Due to a moment of suspended sanity, Jess and I booked train tickets to Cambridge at 7.45am on a Saturday, little did we know that Cambridge only wakes up at 10am, we could have gifted ourselves a sleep-in. On the train ride from London we had a catch up and discussed our expectations for the day in this quiet University town – or so we thought.

While it is true that Cambridge was fast asleep when we first hit foot to pavement, the same could not be said as the day progressed and hordes of tourists descended upon this town to see the University. We thought we could escape the crowds of London, relax on the river and perhaps enjoy a jug of Pimm’s. Perhaps we cursed ourselves with that early train ride, perhaps we just made bad sleep deprived decisions, but from start to end, all choices made by myself, Jess or joint consensus, went wrong.

We stumbled upon a quaint craft and food market in the main square of the town near King’s College and like the true Kiwi’s that our Saffa born souls are, we licked our lips and set our sights on freshly made pies. Purchasing two for the hefty price of 5 pounds, we strolled over to a park bench to tuck in. Jess had brie, bacon and cranberry whilst I had venison and tomato chilli jam. Feeling adventurous with our gourmet flavours, we excitedly took our first bite – straight into cold pastry and even colder meaty filling. Turning in horror, we knew these were expensive. Cognitive dissonance was clouding over us faster than the weather changes in Auckland as we tried to smile enthusiastically about how good our pies tasted, even if it was “just a bit weird” to be eating cold pies. It was only after we forced ourselves to get the entire thing down that we finally were ready to admit how much we both hated every sickly cold tepid bite. Perking up because we knew we had fudge to follow, we dove into this with the same naïve hope that things in Cambridge would get better for us. Long story short: the fudge sucked pretty bad too. Cambridge: 2 Jess and Kirsty: 0.

At this point, with full bellies, but saddened hearts we headed towards the college to begin our sight-seeing and general tourist activities. Literally after about a minute of walking towards the main King’s College area, we were stopped by a handsome British lad. He was decked out in impeccable clothes, Ray Ban Aviators and had the preppiest of haircuts, what were two Kiwi girls to do? We were helpless as this man in his crystal clear voice explained in only the most proper English that he was a student of the University and would like us to sign up for his punting tour, only 12 pounds for 45 minutes. He smoothly assured us this was a great deal and normally we would have to pay 20, but he had a special offer for us, or “morning prices” as they are typically called in the bartering side of the world.

Hypnotised, we nodded  blankly, ready to pop open our wallets and throw money at the guy, just to get him to keep talking to us in that irresistible accent. “Come step into my office”, he said and like the zombies we had become, we simply drooled and acquiesced. At this point, we should have realised something was wrong, but to keep our suspicions at bay, he used powerful misdirection by informing us how he longs to visit New Zealand and was a total “Lord of the Rings geek” since childhood. This was done to keep us under the spell and prevent us from realising, that the office, was in fact a small dairy or “News Agents” as the English refer to them. How suss this little dairy looked was actually enough to half break us out of the spell, whereby we exchanged a WTF look, but it was certainly not enough to stop us handing over our money to his “professional associate”.

We then walked over to the meeting point and joined a group of fellow suckers who had been similarly taken by these Ray Ban wearing Bandits as Jess dubbed them. Leading us down a back alley, we were taken to a tiny little bank on the river, around a corner and were quickly ushered onto a Punt – which is the type of boat used on their rivers which has a flat bottom and I don’t know what else distinguishes it in such a way that it becomes a Punt and not just a general boat. My boating knowledge is considerably lacking.

The punting ride was a shit experience. We were shoved on with people and their dog amongst other riff raff and our punting guide was really nothing more than a moody boy, who barely greeted us let alone provided us with tales of Cambridge infamy. Our 45 minutes turned into 20 minutes and we were back onto stable land, our punter shouts “I’m done. This is bullshit!” as we all awkwardly avoided making eye contact with each other, but suddenly another Ray Ban bandit showed up to usher us back to the main square.

Feeling more than a little gypped, we wanted to get back on the river with one of the actual guides that we had seen passing along telling stories and explaining the history of the buildings, but since for both of us, we had already spent $50, it was pretty difficult to justify it tallying up to $100 for a few minutes on the river. We had heard whispers by this point as well that the people we had gone punting with were actually scammers and operating illegal public punting tours, which further enraged us that we feel for the guys tricks.

Seeing an even more handsome British man wearing a blue Cambridge information polo shirt, we decided to ask him which were the real companies and explain how disappointed we were with the previous punting tour. He immediately turned to our aid, escalating the situation greatly by telling me to call the Cambridge police if the scammers refused to refund us. In the next swift sentence he was also clear to stress the point that we don’t mention him, since he’s actually good mates with them and doesn’t want them to know he told us to do this. Feeling hesitant to involve the police as well as doubting the authenticity of the phone number*, we plucked up all our courage and demanded our refund from the head honcho of the Bandits. Fortunately, he quickly agreed and once again we found ourselves in the diary/office getting our cash back. Sexy blue polo shirt then informed us we could buy tickets from him, for an authentic company and that we just had to pay – you guessed it – inside the dairy. At this point, I’m sure most regular people would be throwing their head back in raucous laughter at the insanity of returning to the scene of the scam, but no, Jess and I follow the blue polo shirt, once again transfixed by him being an English gentleman and purchase a new set of punting tickets.

Optimism restored we set out to find the Grunta Punting Company – this takes some time. We get briefly lost, but sigh with audible relief and wipe the sweat from our brows to discover we have not been scammed, that this time, after 5 hours of being in Cambridge, we will finally receive the punting ride of our dreams. Oh boy, and that it was. An hour rocking back and forth down the river, this time on a smaller boat so as we leaned back and munched on strawberries and took snapshots of agitated swans trying to attack the boats, we often had fear struck into the depths of our hearts that we would capsize.

 photo c6.jpg

Our punter did reassure us that this was highly unlikely. We were mainly shaken by our earlier experience on the river when we passed a group of self-hire punters with a boy sitting in the front of the boat, drenched head to toe, shaking with trauma as our boat bumped into his and his voice pleaded “please, no more! PLEASE, NO MORE!” We don’t want to know what horrors this boy had gone through, probably swallowing mouthfuls of dirty river water and a swan bite to boot. The moral of that story was – never hire your own punt. The river was several levels of unexpected carnage as mass traffic jams and crashes about as plentiful as there as scammers in Cambridge.

At the end of our time on the river, feeling sleepy from the sun and too many strawberries, we began our walk back to the train station to head home to London after a day filled with multiple misadventures and moments of major perving that led to us being duped. Naturally we wound up walking in, “entirely the wrong direction”, and had to enlist the services of a kind young French man (they are only mean when they’re in their home country, otherwise they’re delightful) to help direct us back onto the correct path. Since the walk from the University area to the train station was basically walking in one straight line, it was a testament to just how unfortunate our decision making skills had become when we veered left and walked for about half an hour through totally unfamiliar surroundings. Fortunately, for us we managed to correctly board the right train and were safely returned to London and did not wind up in Edinburgh, though after the day we had, I would not have been surprised.

*We called the phone number for the Cambridge Police once back in London – it was real. He was serious.

 photo C1.jpg

 photo c3.jpg

 photo c4.jpg

 photo c2.jpg

 photo c5.jpg

 photo c7.jpg

 photo c9.jpg

 photo c8.jpg

About these ads

31 responses to “Fake Student Punting Scammers Run Amok in Cambridge

  1. oh dear… what a day !! I’ve heard of these scammers and almost got duped myself! I’m glad you got your trip in the end! Thank god they agreed to give you a refund! Next time look online and find out about the proper companies like this one!

  2. You’re so interesting! I do not think I’ve read anything like that before.

    So great to find somebody with genuine thoughts on
    this subject. Really.. thanks for starting this up.
    This website is something that is needed on the web,
    someone with some originality!

  3. Nice weblog here! Additionally your site so much up very fast!
    What web host are you the use of? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink for your
    host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  4. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the
    video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to
    your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  5. Just want to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in
    your post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert
    on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your
    feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please
    continue the rewarding work.

  6. I am curious to find out what blog platform you have been utilizing?
    I’m having some minor security problems with my latest
    blog and I’d like to find something more secure. Do you
    have any recommendations?

  7. Everyone has different limits so take the time to push yourself until you find yours.
    The scene immediately before the hunt shows Jack crossing over
    from civilized to savage by making a mask, “a thing on its own, behind which Jack hid, (liberating him) from shame and self consciousness” (64).
    If you’re serious about eliminating your double chin, you’re going to also be required
    to inter-fuse some form of toning together with a restricted weight loss diet.
    GIMP is an alternative to Photoshop and has many of the same features for a much better price.
    If an exercise application is not part of your weight
    loss efforts, you are setting yourself up for failure.

  8. After checking out a handful of the blog articles on your site, I really like your way
    of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will
    be checking back in the near future. Please visit my
    website too and tell me what you think.

  9. Hello very nice blog!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing ..
    I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds also?
    I’m glad to seek out a lot of useful information right here within the post, we
    want develop more strategies in this regard, thank you
    for sharing. . . . . .

  10. We absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s
    to be just what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content available for you?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write in relation to here.

    Again, awesome web site!

  11. There are a number of reasons for which the PC slows down gradually.

    Cleaning the registry of your system can be en extremely finicky procedure thus you should make sure
    to create the backup files. a total or close to full
    harddisk producing difficulties or windows opens away from-screen), these and other modest errors that continually arise
    is usually rectified employing this software.

  12. Hey There. I found your weblog the use of msn. That is an extremely smartly written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your
    helpful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  13. Team members can perform their specific functions wherever they are and are
    not relegated to specific locations. o Early majority – 34%
    – less adventurous, wait till innovation is tried and tested.
    o Informal processes can be lost, along with intuitive thinking.

  14. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve certainly picked up something new from
    right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using
    this web site, as I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I
    could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your
    hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will often affect your placement
    in google and could damage your high quality score if ads and marketing
    with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

  15. Wonderful website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any
    discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed
    in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get feedback from other experienced people that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Many thanks!

  16. The Cisco Tele – Presence 1000The Cisco Tele – Presence System CTS-1000 features a
    distinct 1080p flat panel display. It means if one wants
    to go about personal management, the approach will be different as compared to the management of a whole institution. Collaborative software is quite commonly referred to as groupware or an office without walls.

  17. There seems tto be a bit of blue paint over spray for the insides with the wheel
    wells. “Local used cars available by proprietor”,is often a phrase that comes to mind when the general public are available about the market trying to buy a car.

    Now it’s not a difficult task to identify a reputed and reliable
    car sales company that is offering a few months old car, that is in good and still within the manufacturer.

  18. You should receive a quote from all the SEO company concerning the web design services.

    This allows new information to become put into the web site independent of
    the variety of the site. That’s the sort of example you attempt to show for a teammates and in addition they follow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s