Tourists warned of Phuket scam

2012-11-29 10:14
 Phuket, Thailand – As Phuket’s high season draws near, travellers are being warned that scammers are ‘hijacking’ just-arrived tourists near Phuket International Airport and persuading them to go to alternative accommodation.

ETurbonews reports most of the victims are travelling south from Phuket airport by mini-van but others have been scammed in taxis.

The scammers get paid commission by the people who gain the guests – as they pretend to not know the place the tourist asks to be taken to. With the result the newly-arrived tourist ends up at different accommodation, either at greater expense or to a lower standard.

The alleged scam involves a travel centre not far from the airport – tourists are taken there upon arrival and questioned intently about where they are staying on Phuket.

Phuketwan has given detailed accounts of tourists who have fallen victim to the scam.

Giovanni Mazzolini, 28, a helicopter mechanic from Brisbane, booked a place to stay in Phuket City. But when he and a friend arrived on November 21, they were scammed and taken to Patong, on the other side of Phuket.

''The lady at the tourist centre told us the driver didn't know the place we were supposed to be going and gave us advice to go to another place in another part of Phuket.

''We ended up paying the taxi driver an extra 150 baht and he still dropped us off some distance from the accommodation.''

In another instance the owner of Niku Guesthouse in Patong's Paradise Complex has email correspondence from a guest indicating that they had fallen victim to the scam.

Niku Krog the guest let her know that the taxi did not know where the guesthouse was and claimed to have no phone for the tourist to use.

Niku says, “We don't have a car or a taxi license, so we need to rely on the existing local taxi service. Besides that private pickups can create problems with the taxi drivers around the airport. Unfortunately the people providing taxi service here have the bad habit of making extra income, so they prefer to bring their customers to places where they can get commission.”

It is not the first case of taxi drivers cheating customers. This time it even seems worse since there have been an open conflict about what to do.

None of the people in the cases reported to Phuketwan could remember names of firms or numberplates of vehicles, or the precise location of the ''travel centre.''

Deputy general manager Phuket International Airport Suteep Sansiriphan said the airport team would respond to any case brought to their attention where the name of the mini-van firm or the taxi driver could be provided.

Tourists are being advised to have a map showing where they want to go and the capacity to say no if their requests are not met.

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Read more on:    flights  |  travel international

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