Money or money-like thing to send to India?
February 23, 2017 5:51 AM   Subscribe

I just got back from a trip to India (it was great!) and to my horror I got the rupees conversion mixed up and accidentally way under-reimbursed my host. How can I make it up?

My host had paid for taxis, etc. because it was easier, and in my rush to leave, I didn't repay him enough. He would be too kind to say anything (just looked embarrassed and said thanks) and I am mortified. I thought he looked embarrassed because money exchange is embarrassing, but now I think he didn't know how to tell me it wasn't enough.

I would like to make this up. This is not a rich person (not poor by Indian standards, either, middle class) but it's a good amount of money (about 2500 rupees or so, $40), which is surely a lot to him.

I would ordinarily just try to transfer money to his account, but I know he'll never let me or give me the details. Is there any other way to do this? I was thinking of an amazon gift certificate -- but do middle class people use amazon in India? Or any other online retailer I might not know about? Is there any other easy way to send money in a way he would have to accept and wouldn't have to give me any account information?

More info: married, with one kid, lives in Kolkata.


PS I already gave him a "thank you for hosting me gift" so I don't quite need these suggestions. If I could give him cold hard cash I would do that, but don't know how to.
posted by caoimhe to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not send him a payment via PayPal thru email?
posted by pando11 at 6:17 AM on February 23, 2017

Hmm, are you sure he wasn't just embarrassed because of the money exchange? I'm from India, and if I were hosting someone from abroad, I wouldn't expect to be reimbursed for things like taxis and neither would my parents. When you say that he paid taxis etc. because it was easier - did you explicitly agree that he was just paying the bill for now and that you would reimburse later?

If you do still feel that you should reimburse him, I would urge you not to tie it explicitly to the idea of repaying him i.e. a gift certificate is fine, but make it for a bit more than the actual reimbursement (maybe $50 or $60 instead of exactly $40 and don't mention that you feel you underpaid him), and a gift certificate plus something more personal would be even better. You don't want to turn this into a transactional relationship - the idea is always to do a little bit more than strictly necessary so that each person feels good about the relationship.

Amazon is used by middle-class Indian people. Another option would be Flipkart, which I believe is even more popular.
posted by peacheater at 6:18 AM on February 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh as I was writing my answer I remembered that you should probably use an odd number instead of a rounded number for the gift card amount (e.g. in rupees - 2501 rather than 2500) - considered more lucky.
posted by peacheater at 6:20 AM on February 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Is there a postal money order system still? If so, is it accessible from internationally?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:57 AM on February 23, 2017

My middle class relatives from Kolkata have probably never ordered anything online in their lives , so I'd advise against Amazon.

I would send a thank you gift from your home country. The embarrassment was because of receiving the money, not the amount of it.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2017

If he uses prepaid mobile phone, top up his airtime
posted by Hash at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Spencer's is a retail chain in Kolkata:

Amazon India sells their gift card:

AFAIK, you can use foreign credit cards on Amazon India to buy stuff.

Just to be sure that it would be used, you could casually ask your host if they like or shop at Spencer's.
posted by vivekspace at 9:46 PM on March 3, 2017

If the person uses PayTM you can just send them PayTM balance/credit (if the person ever used an Uber an India that means the person uses PayTM). Sounds cumbersome but if you are not able to use PayTM from abroad, I doubt you'll be able to, you can ask someone else in India (if you know someone like that) to do the PayTM to PayTM transfer and you can pay this other person.

Using IMT ( - my friend says Western Union - not sure she meant this IndiaPost-Western Union thing or standalone Western Union; she used to study in USA) may be tricky as you'll have to tell the person to go and collect it. ICICI Bank also has some kind of money transfer setup from abroad (not sure if it's possible for non-NRIs to do that or they handle cash).

If your bank can make a Demand Draft that your host can cash in their account or just get the ash even that be done.
posted by amar at 12:44 PM on March 5, 2017

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