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The Australian group lose their debate with the Patong jet-ski operator

Aussies 'Ripped Off' in Phuket Jet-Ski Scam

Saturday, January 22, 2011
A FAMILY group of Australians holidaying on Phuket was forced to pay 56,500 baht today for ''damage'' to four jet-skis that they say they did not cause.

The group from Melbourne argued for two hours before giving in and paying the money, having been told by the jet-ski operators that the Patong Tourist Police ''do not work at weekends.''

Phuketwan arrived by chance under the jet-ski operator's umbrellas in the middle of Patong beach soon after the money had been handed over, a few minutes too late to prevent what appeared to be an obvious rip-off.

Some of the younger women family members in the group were clearly distressed by the altercation, and went back to their resort in tears.

Michael Galijan, senior member of the group of family and friends, said that the group had hired eight jet-skis at 2000 baht each for 50 minutes.

When they returned to the beach, the operators made their claims for damages.

''We were silly,'' another member of the Melbourne group said. ''The jet-skis were all in the water when we hired them. We didn't have the opportunity to see if there was already damage underneath.''

The faces of the group told what effect the rip-off had had on what until then had been an enjoyable break in Thailand. The group came to Phuket from Samui two days ago - and probably wished they'd stayed in Samui.

It was their first time on Phuket. And it is unlikely that any of them will return again.

As one of the group, a woman, told Phuketwan: ''It's such a shame. These people will ruin Phuket for their country.''

The Australians ended by paying 72,500 baht for their 50 minutes of jet-ski fun at Patong beach.

Thailand may pay a heavy price once the group of 13 returns to Australia and each tells their friends what took place on Patong beach while they were on their Phuket holiday.

The Aussies trusted the jet-ski operators, thinking there was no danger of them being ripped off in a place so many Australians visit and enjoy.

Two of the group, as it happens, are managers in the insurance business back in Australia. Sadly, the faith that Australians and other tourists place in Phuket is not returned.

All the efforts by the authorities to end the scams have failed. These days, it's hard to find anyone who will even acknowledge that the rip-offs are still happening.

Phuketwan has taken three afternoon strolls along Patong beach in the past few years, and each time come across a jet-ski scam.

As the family member said: ''It's such a shame. These people will ruin Phuket for their country.''
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Phuket's Uninsured Jet-Skis Outnumber Insured
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Sure would be nice of the governor to step up and have this money returned.

Posted by john s on January 22, 2011 20:12


mmm ... sometimes I wonder when they take it to next level .. by ripping tourist off even before they ride the jet skis...;-)

Posted by Bjarne on January 22, 2011 20:51


Apologies if I am wrong but I thought this "scam" problem had all been sorted out with mandatory insurance and assurances by the people in governance.

It is indeed unfortunate for the future of Phuket these blatant ripoffs are allowed to continue without any control despite assurances by the responsible authorities to the contrary. The internet is buzzing with stories of what went wrong with our " dream holiday in Phuket ".

Please Mr. Governor ensure that the ban on jet-skis as from February this year, as mandated by one of your predecessors is carried through to fruition. It may solve at least one problem. The law is on your side as anyone who in control of a jet ski must have a Thai captains certificate and also a certified engineer on board if he is not one himself. Not to hard to enforce is it ?

As a footnote and living here for over 20 years I have never seen this once idyllic place we used to call paradise sink to such a low ebb of inefficient police enforcement, crime investigation, corruption, murders and scams. It is like the wild wild west with the sheriff transferred to an inactive post.

Posted by innocent bystander on January 22, 2011 21:31


Issues that destroys Phuket image should be dealt with, again, who will and can ?

Posted by Anders on January 22, 2011 21:43


This scam is ruining people's holiday because the authorities will not do anything about it.
The are reports on another website that in Pattaya the scammers are still scaring customers and some time by showing knives.
There is also the scam on youtube showing some scammers in action.

Posted by Allan on January 22, 2011 21:55


With all the negative publicity on the net about jet ski scams in Thailand, its a pity these persons did not see it and consider what mite happen if renting.

as for the mandatory insurance, I think the scammers would be in big trouble if they tried to scam a insurance company for bogus damages.

intimidating the tourists is much more lucrative.

Posted by Mikey on January 22, 2011 23:01


Easy to stop these jet ski scams.....
This should be posted at all arrivial points in Phuket...
Nuff Said...

Posted by Jimmy B on January 23, 2011 00:38


innocent bystander: "Please Mr. Governor ensure that the ban on jet-skis as from February this year, as mandated by one of your predecessors is carried through to fruition."

It'll never happen, IB. Never.

Posted by Mike Boyd on January 23, 2011 01:03


The jet ski rip-off is old news and easy for anybody to see if they do their basic online research and due diligence on their holiday destination and activities they may participate in.

Anyone who get who rents a jet-ski in Phuket is a sucker for punishment and deserves everything that comes their way.

Posted by Will on January 23, 2011 01:19


sure would be nice if the governor focus on the jet ski operators.

Posted by tak on January 23, 2011 02:41


why should any of this be a surprise to anyone?

Posted by Zig on January 23, 2011 04:41


What is happening with the Jet-Skis is what typically happens with most scams and problems in Thailand.

If they are exposed, authorities are forced into action but it's just window dressing. When the hot air blows over, it's right back to where it was before.

It is difficult to conclude anything but the fact that authorities are not sincere about ridding Phuket of these scams.

The Jet-Ski operators have had an astonishing 7 year grace period to show their business principles are good. They have failed miserably and it's time to put an end to it for good.

Ban the Jet-Skis island wide. All you have to do is to apply the law.

Can you not see the public is begging you to act ?

I'd love to hear the excuses of any official who would still defend the Jet-Ski business.

Posted by Chris on January 23, 2011 09:01


How could Phuketwan have prevented this, i wonder?

Posted by FS on January 23, 2011 09:24


Innocent Bystander and Chris: Well said both of you, but I'm afraid the rot has gone so deep it will take a strong governor to effectively invoke martial law to root out the corrupt police, officials and other self interested groups from this island. (It'll never happen.)

You know, every time I hear Phuket described as paradise, I am reminded of each country around the world which thinks that to call itself democratic (e.g. The Democratic Republic of Korea/Congo etc.), makes it so, when the truth behind the propaganda is radically different.

Posted by A. Skeptic on January 23, 2011 11:31


it is people like this that will kill the Thailand tourist trade, if each one of the family group of say five people tells one friend then they each tell one friend AND it is spread about the rip-off merchants over the internet then in time, NO ONE will want to go there as they will be frightened of rip-offs.

I just think it lucky the merchants were not turned upon by the family, imagine if the family were all extremely good fighters with bad tempers.

Posted by Simon on January 23, 2011 11:49


It is a shame these jet ski m**** give Phuket a bad name. Please spread the word not to hire jet skis but don't put down the rest of a beautiful place.

Posted by Tania on January 23, 2011 12:20


And the rip offs and vile behavior continue unabated...Were these jet skis not covered under the compulsory insurance scheme, will anyone get arrested ? Me thinketh not...the man in charge of phasing out the jet skis is chickening out, foreigners are the evil that fuel the Phuket economy.

As a hotelier I can't wait for Burma to have a regime change and open up for tourists, I for one will be one of the first in....Sorry Aussies for this behavior by the jet ski gangsters...

Posted by Ian on January 23, 2011 12:42


Wonder what the discussion will be at the next Consulate Meeting... ummm, maybe the same discussion that they had before.

There are two very simple solutions here:
A) Find a Governor prepared to actually do something - and we're not just talking Jet-Skis here; or
B) Time for the Consulates to advise their Governments to a severe warning on coming here.

The trouble with most people in power, none of them seem to have the will or desire to do anything. Watch this space, you'll be ready the same story soon.

Posted by Graham on January 23, 2011 13:14


It is time for the tourist from Australia to sue their travel agencies for not providing information about the scamsters in Phuket? After all that years, that is now gross negligence on part of the travel sellers. Maybe if a judge rule against TUI or other big fish of the tourist industry in D, GB or Australia for not warning their tourists properly, could make a difference.

Posted by Lena on January 23, 2011 14:29

Editor Comment:

Better to sue the Department of Foreign Affairs, which declines to allow Phuketwan to interview the local honorary consul so the article can be send to Australian newspapers to explain the risks.


I have told many friends here in australia to forget bali go to phuket.

scams like this make me sick.....go to bali forget phuket Is now my recommendation.

Posted by carlos on January 23, 2011 18:54


they were told that "tourist police don't work weekends"..
did they believe this??

Posted by another steve on January 23, 2011 22:32


Now it's up to the make them realise. They can't get away with this...Consulates... if you are reading this...DO SOMETHING...

Posted by STAN on January 24, 2011 06:44


Love to read the story the following day of two of these scammers jet skis deliberately driven into rocks, deliberately smashed with rocks, while the pair of tourists take off over the hill on their way back to Bangkok airport (after paying an extra 1000 baht deposit in lieu of leaving passport).

Posted by hoffman on January 24, 2011 16:12

Editor Comment:

That's revenge, but no solution. And more trouble for the victims who follow.


Please note, the Tourist Police work 24/7, the emergency telephone contact number is 1155. The Tourist Police Volunteer Centre is on the beach Road, next to the Immigration Office, unfortunately the Volunteers are not allowed to get involved with jet skis disputes, I think they were too effective. These jet ski people cause these problems EVERY DAY! They have to go, or Phuket will die.

Posted by Phuket Kop on January 24, 2011 19:50


"unfortunately the Volunteers are not allowed to get involved with jet skis disputes"

Now that is an interesting claim I'd love to see PW follow up on if it is true and if so, who ordered it and on what grounds.

Isn't the tourist police supposed to do just what the jet ski scams are all about - help tourists in trouble ?

I sure wish some HC's pick up on that claim too and press the authorities for answers.

This whole Jet Ski saga just keeps getting more unreal every day. How far are the authorities willing to let this go before it blows up in their face bigtime ?

There must be some incredibly powerful figures behind it to get away with so much public flak without stopping the scams.

Posted by Chris on January 24, 2011 22:10


If the Phuket foreign volunteers are not allowed to mediate in jet-ski incidents then that says it all. Personally I think they should all resign as they are living a lie.

Posted by Andrew on January 25, 2011 00:50


Jet Ski Scam (again)

This jetski m**** has to be stopped before Phuket loose the tourists for ever. Where is the Thai Police and the Autorithies? The insurance and the Police Officers who should take care of this scam do not do their job at all.

In my country, jet skis are forbidden because of many accidents and thank goodness for that.

It is only one solution for this big Phuket problem, don't allow jetskis operate any more, because this will be the end of tourists to Phuket if this scam goes on.

Peoples all over Europe and Australia know about this m***, many I know go to other places than Phuket now for their vacation.
Bye Phuket !

Angry expat

Posted by Patong Expat on January 25, 2011 10:26


I think the best thing is for all of us who are willing is to sign a petition should do so and send it to the Governor. I for one know that every resort and business owner involved in the tourism industry will sign and hopefully the tens of thousands of signatures that i am sure would be collected may help to wake up the authorities and really see how unpopular Jet Skis have become. There is more bad news than good involved when you hear about Jet Skis these days and their operators here in Phuket. I for one am still perplexed how they can continue to operate on Surin Beach when it is not listed as one of the 5 beaches allocated for Jet Ski use. I am truly looking forward to their removal from Phuket for good.

Posted by Passionate About Phuket on January 26, 2011 01:23

Editor Comment:

Petitions are always suspect because anyone who has ever been presented with one will always wonder if all the signatures are genuine. The Phuket tradition appears to be a protest at Provincial Hall. Resort GMs and those in the tourism industry are surprisingly reticent to complain.


Posted by Andrew regarding the Tourist Police Volunteers; I think they should all resign as they are living a lie.

Are you really so stupid? The volunteers have their hands tied behind their backs in this matter and it is very frustrating for them.
You clearly have no idea, whatsoever about what the volunteers do.
Do the majority a favor Andrew, get your facts right before you make pathetic comments, until then shut up!

Posted by Phuket Kop on January 26, 2011 11:27


Ban all jet skis from the Island!

Posted by Dominik on January 26, 2011 16:50


This is very bad for Thailand and going to destroy the tourism, governor should do something and make return the money to persons and say sorry too

Posted by Tony on January 26, 2011 17:16


My daughter and family wished to visit me & then Phuket for a family holiday. I emailed a number of stories about scammers/assaults on tourists. We went to Chang Mai and Pai. The people were lovely.
Repeat ten thousand times - Phuket dies. The goose that lays the golden egg has been killed by GREED and CORRUPTION. Take a bow police/local Government officials/tuk-tuk m****.

Posted by M Bell on January 27, 2011 12:06


My advice to visitors is not to ride the jet skis, don't ride them and the operators will go broke. My wife and I visit Phuket several times a year and I look at the jet ski's and remember in October 2001 when Patong was quiet after September 11 and my 2 older boys had a bit of bother with 2 jet ski's, after 4 hours with the tourist police and jet ski operators I came out $3500 Australian dollars lighter in my pocket. Please beware, do'nt hire them, they are a curse to beautiful Phuket.

Posted by Scott Shallcross on January 27, 2011 14:44


It's about time these people are put out of business and in jail by the authorities. This is how Phuket repays the world for the hundred's of millions of dollars donated by good hearted souls to rebuild the area after the tsunami. Shame on you!

Posted by Joe on January 28, 2011 09:56


How about a comment from the new Governor regarding the 2011 ban!!

Posted by maximus on January 29, 2011 11:07


Phuket's cheaper than some places but more beautiful, and Thailand villagers super very warm welcome, that why very easy to get there for many Aussies villagers who expect everything from cheap price. Don't go to Phuket ,Please go to Bali or wherenever suit to your little pocket. Ohh, Thailand will cry and die if loss you guys.

Posted by Pong on January 29, 2011 18:00


Governor and Mayor, when are you pair going to sort out the jet ski problem once and for all, you pair are in a position of power able to sort this out quickly on behalf of the normal honest people of Phuket and Patong.

Posted by Steve on January 29, 2011 20:00


@ Steve on Saturday January 29, 2011 at 20:00.
Unfortunately I think you are looking at a mirage. Puppet and puppeteer would be a better description but I'm confused as to who is who. Maybe the biggest limo wins!

Posted by innocent bystander on January 29, 2011 21:40


JET SKIS SHOULD BE BANNED IN THAILAND. Easy to say, people should not use jet-skis but if you don't know any different, it is a totally unexpected scam. Tourists get robbed for large amounts of money and all the tourist police do is negotiate for a lesser amount when you should not be paying in the 1st place. I would never return to Pattaya, I paid $10 000US to damages that we did not do! Tourist police should arrest these culprits and NOT negotiate with them. THAILAND GOVERNOR, if you know what's good for your country, then you should get these people off the beaches. I have told every person I know considering the trip not to go. The place is a paradise, however being ripped off certainly does not make your holiday an enjoyable one.

Posted by Naadia -SA on June 9, 2011 22:11


This will be the never ending problem. I keep hearing Jet ski scam, but then both sides have their versions of the story. I agree that Jet ski or motorcycle business have to be dealt with.

Do you think having these jet ski insured will solve the problem ? Yes, your problem. Imagine these jet skis being crashes either intentionally and unintentionally. The tourists walk free. What will the owners do during the time these jet skis are being fixed ? Even my own friend crashed the motorcycle, but he tried to get out of the problem by calling it a scam and laughed it of.

Posted by Jesse on August 15, 2014 00:31

Editor Comment:

Indeed, it's not a one-sided thing. There are tourists who crash jet-skis deliberately, tourists who lie to reduce their expenditure, and there are honorable jet-ski operators. We've heard of cases of extortion by expat motorcycle hirers, too. These things are only ever black and white in the minds of bigots. That said, compulsory comprehensive insurance would be a step in the right direction, both for hired jet-skis and motorcycles.

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