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Former Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob on the day jet-ski insurance began

Fresh Rip-Off Claim in Phuket Jet-Ski Turmoil

Thursday, October 14, 2010
PRESSURE is expected to mount to ensure Patong jet-ski operators are no longer able to extort large sums of money from tourists in ''look what you did to my jet-ski'' scams.

A Malaysian tourist from Singapore - one of a group who claimed they were ripped off earlier this month - has passed on details of his complaint to Thai, Singaporean and Malaysian embassy officials.

Jet-ski rip-offs are also expected to be on the agenda when the new Australian ambassador greets Phuket's new governor next month - and when the honorary consuls and embassy representatives meet the governor in a summit just a few days later.

With the first anniversary of the jet-ski insurance scheme drawing closer, a new and credible complaint has come to light, this time from a South African tourist who claims to have handed over 69,000 baht to a jet-ski operator.

Here's what Gerrie Olivier has to say:

''We were in Phuket in September. We had a great time, except for a incident when we went for a jet-ski drive on Patong beach. We were offered a jet-ski ride at 1500 baht and were assured that everything was covered by completing a 'Jet-ski Rental Agreement and Insurance Policy' in case of an accident. Unfortunately one of the people in our party collided with me with damage to my jet-ski and minor damage to his jet-ski. After the accident we immediately ended our session and returned to shore to minimise water damage if any got into the engine department. We were met by the guys who rented the jet-ski on the beach who immediately told us that we had to pay for the damage. Being in a foreign country and not knowing the law we were mafia-style bullied in to paying for the damage. Two of us were escorted on motorbike to the United Overseas Bank and had to draw 69,000 baht to pay for the damage they said was to the jet-ski. We were later informed by a friend who lives in Phuket that we were covered by the indemnity form we signed. When we read the document, we see that indeed we were covered, and were suppose to have paid 1000 baht for the damage, and furthermore could pay 15,000 baht at the most if it took more than three days to repair.''

Mr Olivier still has copies of the receipt for the 69,000 baht and the jet-ski contract.

It is almost 12 months since former Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob boarded a jet-ski at Patong on the day a ''world-first'' jet-ski insurance scheme was announced to solve the widely-reported rip-offs by jet-ski operators.

The insurance company involved was unable to clarify this week whether the system is working. However, the President of the Phuket Jet-Ski Federation, Anusorn Salae, said he believed some jet-ski operators in Patong had not complied or had reneged on insurance payments.

One suggestion from a Patong businessman probably deserves closer examination - that the insurance scheme be replaced by a co-operative pooled fund, so that jet-ski operators pay for all damage with their own money and in doing so are forced to limit claims.

New Australian ambassador James Wise is to greet Governor Tree Ackaradecha during a visit to Phuket on November 18-19. The governor's summit with 22 national representatives is set for November 22 - just a few days before the jet-ski insurance anniversary.

Only a small number of jet-ski operators are believed to be involved in recent rip-offs.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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And this won't change until people realise that their prime income is not the jet-ski rental business, its the ''pressuring to pay massive overcharges'' for repairs business.

Posted by LivinLOS on October 14, 2010 18:29

Editor Comment:

Let's not use the word ''their'' as if all jet-ski operators are scamsters. They are not. The rogues simply need to be made to behave.

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What a stupid occupation to ride a jet ski ! What a stupid guy you have been not to read the document you have signed ! 69000 b is a lot of money and when going to the bank nothing seems stupid to you ?? At this time you thought the cost asked compare to the damage done was correct ?!you stupid pay ! and then after a few hours you read the contract ! are you stupid !! those guys are ugly sure, but I believe they saw in you the stupid tourist they were gona rip-off!!! In every country this can happen (next time rent a paddle board !)

Posted by serge on October 14, 2010 21:08

Editor Comment:

'Stupid' is a favorite word, eh Serge?

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Perhaps the new governor will do something about the "rogues". Once a "rogue" always a "rogue".

He could, for example, stop them trading for a year, or jail them for extorting money with menaces.

[Please stop laughing, I am being serious]

Posted by Mike Boyd on October 14, 2010 21:14

Editor Comment:

Seriously, the governor doesn't have the power to do either of those things.

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And here we see one of the greatest efforts of former Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob go to shreds.

My favorite word is: greedy. Greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy greedy.

Shame on Patong's authorities.

Posted by Lena on October 14, 2010 22:09

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I'm not sure why we have to give the benefit of the doubt to the jet-ski operators, they can make a yearly wage in a day by scamming a couple of gullible tourists, who's NOT to say they aren't ALL doing it?

Posted by Benjy on October 15, 2010 00:45

Editor Comment:

One interpretation of what you're saying Benjy is: ''Well if I was a jet-ski operator, I'd be ripping people off at every opportunity.''

The answer is: Because there's no evidence they are all doing it, and because a much better outlook on life is to give people the benefit of the doubt.

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And another interpretation, Allan, is that this jet-ski rip off crap is still rampant here on the island and even though the governor gets great kudos for his insurance "scheme" it remains only that. A scheme. ( almost have to wonder who the insurance agent that landed this package is related to...) The rip offs continue and the bad international press coverage continues......well, except for here at Phuketwan where you are always staunchly defending the people who propagate and perpetuate this constant criminal blight on our home and community, seemingly regardless of the facts that are in full view. While I certainly appreciate the fact that you are supportive of our environment I often think your editorial repartee is misleading to those who don't live here and seek the truth that they may make informed decisions about their travel and retirement plans. Benefit of the doubt is one thing but ridiculous repetition of ugly and petty crimes, scams and rip offs is certainly another and no amount of the "rose colored glasses" approach will make it look any better.

Posted by you must be joking on October 15, 2010 07:13

Editor Comment:

Please let us know what evidence you have for any of your wild, ridiculous allegations. While you're at it, tell us which media outlet has reported the jet-ski issue in a more comprehensive and fair fashion. As I said, prejudice is the island's second biggest problem. Your comment is riddled with it. Honi soit qui mal y pense

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Quite right, Editor, about giving people the benefit of the doubt. Difficult to do, however, for many of us that have been here for more than two weeks - and this gloomy weather is not helping matters.

Lots of frustration among expats, and perhaps some locals though they rarely say it, that this place is turning into a higher-priced version of Pattaya, both physically and spiritually. If we wanted Pattaya we would have settled up there instead of investing our hard-earned resources in what at one time seemed a nice place to be.

But perhaps our outlook will change once the sun comes back out and the rogues are made to behave.

Posted by Treelover on October 15, 2010 07:41

Editor Comment:

Treelover, it's regrettable that so many residents don't take action to implement change for the better. Frustrations are one thing: tunnel vision is another. And I'm not talking Patong Hill here.

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Only a small number of jet-ski operators are believed to be involved in recent rip-offs.

How do you know?? please give details, that's what you tell us time after time, i live here and hear terrible stories every other week, you could dig into this.

Posted by southbound on October 15, 2010 08:16

Editor Comment:

We've had two recent complaints to Phuketwan after a long period when there were none. We've talked to people with involvement in the jet-ski business - people who are keen to have it work as it should. And we rely on first-hand accounts, not gossip.

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Serge, think about being in a different country and being surrounded by a group of rather aggressive bunch of people demanding money from damage you caused? What you are saying is that if tourist are stupid enough then they should get ripped off? Does renting a jet ski make it your occupation? Wow, I only used the word " stupid " once to your record breaking 6 times! Makes me wonder why you are using the word " stupid " so many times?

Posted by derrick on October 15, 2010 08:19

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Dear all, you all know Thailand, it will never change, so the best we can do is to tell to all our friends, family...who plan holidays here to not rent a jet ski and don't use tuk tuk. Hopefully with time those scammers will be out.

Posted by Jean-Paul Patrick on October 15, 2010 09:56

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We've had two recent complaints to Phuketwan after a long period when there were none. (moderated) That i think is because tourists don't know what to do. A good Thai friend have a travel booth on beach road, this person hears this all the time, BTW she want to sell her 2x2 meter shop she pay 75.000 faht a month for, too many tourist come to her to complain about all the stuff going on.

Posted by southbound on October 15, 2010 10:01

Editor Comment:

The reduction in scams came because the pressure was on one year ago for people to sign up for insurance and follow instructions. That pressure has now eased. There's a big difference between a few cases involving one or two rogues and the whole jet-ski group doing it. To condemn all jet-ski operators for the actions of a few is wrong.

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Assuming that only a few jetski operators are crooked puts the tourist into a game of aquatic russian roulette, as it were.

One puts his holiday on the line by taking a chance that the operator he goes with is indeed a good one. Or he can just choose another place to holiday.

So perhaps therein lies the answer: Take the focus off the bad operators and increase the odds that the customer gets treated fairly by rewarding the good guys like they did with the "clean food, good taste" plaques given out a few years back to restaurants that met certain criteria.

But the basic problem, of course, is that the bad guys are allowed on the beach at all. If the powers that be did not want them there, they would be long gone. But now we could get into a long, drawn out discussion on just how deeply corruption permeates all levels of society, etc etc.

This I'll leave to those stalwart pillars of righteousness who hosted the recent anti-corruption gathering and free buffet.

Posted by Treelover on October 15, 2010 11:28

Editor Comment:

The equivalent of the ''clean food, good taste'' plaque for jet-skis is ''This vehicle is registered and fully insured.''

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So if a jet ski is insured for damage, why does a renter of such, have to pay for downtime of the machine? (If the damage was the renter's fault or not) That is not insurance, that is a scam legalised in Thailand, the world is seeing this.

Posted by Lee on October 15, 2010 13:21

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Serge. I was in the group that was ripped off, the very group you refer to as stupid several times. Firstly, Derrick is quite right. We are a group of tourists travelling in a country where we have never been to before.

We are not familiar with their laws and this is perpetuated by the fact that the language barrier often means that you have to take things at face value or find yourself an interpreter. When we decided to rent the jet-skis we paid the 1500Baht, signed the form (which for your information is in such broken English that no sane person could understand?? coupled with the fact that the operator could not explain the detailed terms and conditions even if he tried and took the Jetskis out IN GOOD FAITH. I don't believe this is stupid, merely and indication that as South Africans we generally trust people and accept that everything is above board.

In our country renting and owning a jet-ski is extremely expensive, so we jumped at the chance of getting to enjoy this at a relatively good price. Then try and put yourself in our situation a couple of minutes later when two of my friends collided ?? the first thing that goes through your mind is if anyone got hurt, coincidentally, the one guy suffers from asthma and we had to ensure that he got to the shore as soon as possible.

Added to this, one jet-ski was damaged very badly and was starting to take in water, we had to race back to shore to try and save it from sinking. Then, when we eventually got to shore, relieved that nobody was seriously hurt, you get bombarded by a mafia-like operator group grabbing calculators, notepads, contracts, cameras and all speaking in a language you do not understand. Add to this the gathering crowd, all whom of which (Thai people included) gave us no indication that this was a scam. It seems that not only the tourists are stupid, hey??

You are swiftly loaded onto the back of a motorcycle, escorted into the bank, and TOLD to withdraw the required funds as soon as possible, or else. You see images of yourself sitting in a Phuket police cell, passport confiscated and people who do not speak your language deciding on your future.

I can understand why so many people get scammed by this, these guys are professional con artists and know exactly how to manipulate their non-suspecting customers into handing over the cash. This has nothing to do with stupidity whatsoever, in actual fact it's quite the opposite, the scam is simple, but also extremely clever.

Lastly, for your information, in our group we have businessmen, entrepreneurs, and people holding senior management positions in different corporate organisations back in South Africa. Three of which could have been seriously hurt or even killed in this incident. If you classify this as your average stupid tourist, Phuket must be overflowing with stupid people who willingly come and support the economy of Thailand.

Oh, and lastly, come to think of it, the only stupid person here is you for thinking the way you do. Next time check your facts before boring us all with your incoherent, one-sided, psycho-babble Idiot.

Posted by Ryan on October 15, 2010 13:58

Editor Comment:

Thanks, Ryan. Well put. We wouldn't normally let the word idiot go, but I couldn't bear to remove it.

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There is surely someone out there who has dined at a "clean food, good taste" restaurant only to end up trotting to the loo. Mr. Olivier says that he was assured by the jetski operator that everything was covered by insurance, only to find himself bullied out of 69,000 baht.

So much for "This vehicle is registered and fully insured." So it seems that your concept of expats having our embassies put the pressure on Bangkok might be the only potentially viable one - if the locals were not so bloody indifferent.

As we have seen, the US Navy goes elsewhere and no one cares. Wanton environmental destruction, nobody bats an eye. A multitude of flagrantly overpriced civic projects, mai pen rai. Fraud and extortion in the tourist sector, som nam na on Farang.

The only ones getting upset are the expats, and we are powerless to do anything but whinge to the editor.

Sometimes a local hero steps up to give the impression that he is on the side of the good guys and intent on tackling the problems, but at the end of the day it was all smoke and mirrors with absolutely nothing changing.

Posted by Treelover on October 15, 2010 15:47

Editor Comment:

Largely correct, although the US Navy may yet return and the jet-ski insurance scheme has reduced scams. It's certainly all about complaining loudly to a person with power . . . and then, enforcement.

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Dear Editor, your ability to look on the brighter side of life, and give crooks the benefit of the doubt is astounding.

Blaming just two events and saying the rest is gossip !!!!

Why call them scamsters ? they didn't steal some kiddies sweets, they are using extortion.
Please wake up on "Planet Editor"

Posted by Phuket Resident on October 15, 2010 19:45

Editor Comment:

A closed mind, Phuket Resident, is like a closed door. Not much gets through except a little wind.

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I really start wondering if you (editor) have a few jet ski to rent out :-)

i also remember you told us some time ago that it didnt look like crime was up in phuket, well, i think we read it more and more, so maybe time to review or still no evidence of more crimes in Phuket? i do understand if people try not to get it in the news, a lot of people have to live of tourists

Posted by southbound on October 16, 2010 08:12

Editor Comment:

Just because crimes are reported in the news doesn't mean there are more crimes, only that some crimes are being reported. Police statistics show that drug crimes are increasing, but crimes of violence are not increasing. Don't make judgements on what you read about crimes - make judgements on the statistics. The Phuket Police Commander told us recently that most areas of crime are not increasing - but arrest rates are improving.

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Editor,
Are jet ski operators requiried to get a TAT licence? If so is there anything the TAT can do? Just a thought. I thought operators that do business with tourists need a TAT licence.

Posted by James on October 16, 2010 14:36

Editor Comment:

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is a marketing organisation that also provides information to visitors. That's it. Tourists who lodge complaints to the TAT will have their complaints passed on to the relevant authorities. But don't expect a reaction. These days, a much more effective channel for complaints is to honorary consuls or embassies, with a copy to the governor. That way, issues and problems are guaranteed to get an airing. Marine transport officials regulate jet-skis.

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So if TAT is just a marketing organisation, " The Tourism Authority of Thailand is a marketing organisation that also provides information to visitors. That's it. ", then I have to disagree and ask the following:-
I have a boat charter business, now for my business I needed a TAT licence for my boat blue book renewals, my insurance renewals - you can't renew boat blue books without TAT Licence, you can't get boat blue books renewed with out insurance, and you can't get a work permit and visa with out a TAT Licence? Anybody who has any dealings with tourists, regardless of being an agent or private person, needs a TAT Licence.
I also need TAT Compulsory Commercial Boat Insurance and Passenger insurance.
So who are TAT really and how many more controls do they make up along the way. Yes TAT make a whopping big take in their fees and deposit controls.
To me they are not just marketing people, they control the whole tourist industry. Even hotels need TAT Licences.
Maybe PW should start doing further investigations into what TAT really does and who and what it controls?
You have my backing PW.

Posted by Graham on October 17, 2010 10:08

Editor Comment:

I thought Tourism and Sport had taken over that regulatory role. We'll check it out.

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TAT has always been under sports. (moderated)

Posted by Ellen Ripley on October 17, 2010 12:46

Editor Comment:

TAT is under Tourism and Sport, not Sport. The rest of your comment has nothing to do with the topic.

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Of the nine friends that used to visit me here all nine have been ripped-off or scammed in various ways.

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool - all of these people have told their friends, family and work colleague not to come here.

The problem you have here is one of pure greed and that fact that simply slipping something under the table for others to do nothing is acceptable.

Has their been change? If so where? Expect to see lots more complaints in the high season (if there is one).

Sad. So very sad for all the honest and hard working people.

Posted by Graham on October 17, 2010 15:38

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Treelover mentions "spirituality" and Phuket in the same sentence! Maybe you should go to India and find an Ashram instead? I don't understand all the good folks here with their worry and concern about a foreign country (Thailand) that's not your home country... Why all the fuzz?? Let the morons destroy it all if they want to! I don't give a hoot after 12+ years here, they WILL NEVER improve, and you all know that's true...

Posted by BOM on October 17, 2010 21:14

Editor Comment:

BOM, I said it before and I'll say it again: A closed mind is like a closed door, only a little wind gets through.

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To all tourists who visit Phuket:
DO NOT RENT A JETSKI
DO NOT RENT A MOTORBIKE
DO NOT TRAVEL BY TUK TUK

Then you will have a pleasant stay in Phuket

Posted by Rune on October 26, 2010 16:08

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No Editor, Why does it make me a scamster to suggest that given the opportunity it could be likely that many jetski operators in Patong would be attempting it.

Surely the lack of reports of JetSki scams could simply be down to less accidents and therefore not as much opportunity for this particular scam.

Posted by Benjy on October 26, 2010 21:40

Editor Comment:

Benjy, that doesn't make you a scamster, just a guesser.

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You have said on 16 October:-


Editor Comment:

Just because crimes are reported in the news doesn't mean there are more crimes, only that some crimes are being reported. Police statistics show that drug crimes are increasing, but crimes of violence are not increasing. Don't make judgements on what you read about crimes - make judgements on the statistics. The Phuket Police Commander told us recently that most areas of crime are not increasing - but arrest rates are improving.

How about this:?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Increase in violent crime reports in Phuket

PHUKET: There has been a sharp increase in violent crime over the past 12 months, recently-released statistics by the Phuket Provincial Police reveal.

(moderated)
--------------------------------------
So much for your investigative skills and reliability of your "contacts and informants" in officialdom.

Posted by stuart on October 27, 2010 10:52

Editor Comment:

Stuart,
Copying and pasting an entire story into another site is plagiarism. That's why your comment has been moderated. We know you're not a thief, but that's certainly what people who lift entire stories onto other sites are commonly called.

If you will forgive us from echoing your own entry, so much for your judgement and commonsense.


One thing is worth remembering when comparing news sites, even with the BBC and The New York Times. No news organisation ever claims to be perfect. And the worst thing a reader can do is to make the assumption that one news site has the story right, while another does not.

The journalists at the originating site of the story you ''borrowed'' would be the first to tell you that no news outlet claims to be 100 percent accurate, on every occasion. People who prefer to keep open minds could also tell you that's it's entirely possible that both articles were correct at the time they were written.

And to extend a judgement about one set of circumstances to the kind of conclusion you made is a sign of ingrained bias, or flawed thinking, or both.

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Never mind all that flannel - do you now think violent crime is greatly increasing or not? Or are you saying it's possible it wasn't on 16 October but is now on 27 October?

As for cutting and pasting I don't really give a monkey's and I shall await the relevant summons

Posted by stuart on October 27, 2010 15:07

Editor Comment:

If the police statistics say it's increasing, then it is increasing. However, the increase does not appear to have alarmed the island's top policeman. We keep on top of violent crimes involving expats, and there has been no obvious increase in those. The article you sent is from Saturday's newspaper, republished online four days later. It would have been written last week.


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