Tourists should be aware that there are a number of tourism scams currently quite prevalent in Phuket, Bangkok & other parts of Thailand.
- Redirected bookings
Hotel staff, tour desk staff & tour guides in Thailand make most of their money from commissions and under-the-table payments. It is always possible to find the few honest people, but it should be understood that many people are often paid little salary & the “tourism” system is such that many people “unlicensed” can get commissions just like travel agents up to 75% of the selling price !!!.
But everyone should also understand that a travel agent or tour desks has to make a certain commission to pay for their services, like any “middle man” around the world for any businesses. The only thing is that the client should always compare, read, ask as much information to the agent that the price they pay for is worth the trip they buy. If paying high price with great satisfaction after the tour, then there are no reasons why the agent or tour desk should not get a good commission for recommending a good tour, but if the tour is of very low services, very poor program then one can complain and not be happy with the price paid knowing the agent got a good part of it.
Booking our James Bond island tour
If you use any of these agents to seek for information about Two Sea Tour, be prepared to be told “we don’t know that boat”, “they are no longer in business”, “their boat has sunk”, “they are fully booked”, “they do not go out because of the bad weather” etc etc. The agent will then offer you “a good boat”, a “better company” – one that will carry larger number of passengers so that the cost of running is as low as possible to “attract” as many agents as possible and pay them a “big commission” for sending clients to them. These operators have no other choice but to keep the food cost, the service costs to the minimal and will use the services of “freelancers” to paddle you around in the canoes for 15 minutes while you will be ask or forced (often) to reward them with good tips. They will also take the tourists to places where tour guides and employees will be offered “a little extra”, like beach stops renting chairs, selling drinks…
We would like to inform everyone that the tour operator (boat operator) normally have the same running costs all year around and it is not up to him to reduce the selling price, they can not unless reducing the quality of the services offered. During “high season” tour desks, travel agents will try to get as much commission as they can and sell to the brochure price, thinking if one don’t want to buy a tour, the next person will.
Therefore the tourists will often find in “low season” tour desks and travel agencies offering up to 60% discounts, so little number of tourists, so many agents, it is then the time to “fight” to attract the few clients to their desks.
Frankly any surplus money we may have compare to other tours, we prefer to use it to improve our boat’s comfort and services to our passengers and not to pay commissions to agents who do little more than make a phone call on your behalf.
2. Jewelry scams
Phuket and Bangkok are two great place to buy jewelry (Bangkok is one of the biggest exporters of finished jewelry in the world) – BUT ONLY if you know what you are doing. For Bangkok most likely at the Grand palace, you will be told the Grand Palace is closed (it almost never is) and will be offered to take you to a jewelry shop instead – not any jewelry shop – generally a jewelry shop selling poor quality gems at 10 times the normal price. Of course here again, a commission will be offered and why not if you are recommended a great place selling real jewels.
3. Tuk Tuk petrol scam
The tuk tuk drivers will often tell you that if you accept a stop to a particular shop (jewelry, tailor…) he will get a petrol ticket which will help his family very much. Of course most of these people are in the employment of these shops, where you will be pressured to buy what you had no intention of buying but instead losing your time.
4. Jet Ski scams
One of the most notorious scams can be found in Pattaya & Phuket where people having hired a jetski upon returning it are shown “damage” that they have caused. The repairs for this “damage” are normally around Euro 2000. One is surrounded by other jetski operators and not allowed to leave until one pays. Mysteriously police are never available to intervene. Best advice – Do NOT rent Jetskis in Pattaya & Phuket