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Jet-skis at Patong, most notorious place for rogues and  rip-offs

Jet-Ski Rip-Offs: Now Pattaya Shows Phuket The Way

Friday, August 5, 2011
PHUKET: Officials and expats on Phuket will be watching to see what happens in Pattaya where authorities are seeking to rid the destination of jet-ski scammers.

The jet-ski operators there are, unlike those on Phuket, urging the municipality to monitor all operators, and for police to prosecute scammers, according to one usually reliable Pattaya source.

Jet-ski scams continue unabated on Phuket but Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha is due back from a week-long tour of Scandinavia today and Phuket's honorary consuls are expected to push for immediate action when they meet with him later this month.

An Australian couple recently told Phuketwan that on the day they were shaken down by jet-ski operators using intimidation and being helped by an obliging police officer, they came across a Canadian couple whose daughter was being ripped off a bit further along Patong beach.

The police officer has since been removed from jet-ski dispute mediations, but it is believed scores of tourists continue to be ripped off regularly. Phuket's reputation as a safe, trouble-free destination is constantly harmed by the rogues among the genuine jet-ski operators.

As Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham has told Governor Tri more than once: ''Every tourist who has a good time on Phuket will tell 10 people. Every tourist who is ripped off by the jet-ski gangs will tell hundreds.''

Genuine jet-ski operators on Phuket and in Pattaya admit the frauds take place and would like authorities to act.

What's being proposed in Pattaya, according to the Pattaya Daily News, is an insurance scheme along similar lines to the one that has failed to solve the problem on Phuket.

While insurance covers the cost of some damage, once damage exceeds the limit, the asking price becomes a haggling war between jet-ski operators and their victims.

Jet-ski operators then also demand payment for the time that the jet-ski is out of the water - usually starting at seven days at 3000 baht a day.

Pattaya District Chief Soontorn Rattanavaraha admitted this week that the news of jet-ski operators extorting money from tourists has affected the image of Pattaya.

Now on the table in Pattaya, according to the report, are the following recommendations: the jet-ski operators must be registered and the data checked by the police annually; an area for permitted jet-ski usage would be set up and the operators must have their jet-skis insured.

Having studied the Phuket rip-offs over three years, Phuketwan has proposed the following action plan:

Make Jet-Ski Operators Pay

REPLACE the jet-ski insurance scheme with a co-operative scheme. Under the co-operative, all jet-ski operators would be compelled to contribute to a fund. That fund will be used to cover any claims of damage to jet-skis. The jet-ski operators will thus be forced to pay for all claims with their own money, and to regulate their own industry.

Weed Out the Rip-Off Merchants

ALL JET-SKI operators should be made to re-register. Jet-skis bought and registered outside Phuket should be banned. Every operator should face intense scrutiny regarding previous insurance claims and those with a bad record should be weeded out. About 120 jet-skis would be enough for all of Phuket. Any operator found abusing the system should have his jet-ski confiscated - permanently.

Put the Royal Navy in Charge

IT'S TIME to call in the Navy. Phuket's beaches - especially Patong where most of the rip-offs take place - rarely see any authorities patrolling the beach. Aspersions have been cast about local police. The Thai Royal Navy has an impeccable reputation for honesty, and an office on Patong beach. The Navy already has a strong commitment to defending Thailand's coast. This scam threat comes from within, but it's just as damaging to Thailand as any threat from outside. Send in the Navy. Adapt Phuket's regulations so that they guard Phuket's beaches.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


What about banning anyone from holding a jet-ski operators licence if they have a criminal record or have tested positive for drugs, that would weed out vast amounts of the undesirables in two minutes flat. I would hope the immigration department would look into the Burmese on the beach and what part they play in the jet-ski industry.

Posted by Scunner on August 5, 2011 13:20


They know the ones that are not insured why are they simply not removed from the beach at Patong, or let them know that all documents must be available for on the spot checks and anyone found not having the correct paperwork will be removed from the beach immediately.That should start weeding out the scammers without an operating license or un insured opps.

Posted by william Dale on August 5, 2011 13:45


The easiest solution to these prevalent problems is to prohibit the renting of jet-skis on Phuket. Violators would be punished by stiff fines/jail sentences. This has gone on for too many years. Now is the time for drastic action.

Posted by Paoa on August 5, 2011 16:40


Nice 3 point plan Ed but wouldn't the best one be to implement the end of the 7 year grace period that was to see the removal of jetskis?

Posted by Mister ree on August 5, 2011 19:21


@ Paoa: Hope you wish will come true... unfortunately I doubt a lot.

Posted by Resident on August 5, 2011 20:40


A few tweaks to the Phuketwan plan. I agree with Scunner. Nobody with a criminal record should get a jet ski operator's licence.

You could also apply that criterion to tuk tuk drivers. Many countries won't give taxi licences to anyone with a criminal conviction.

Make all jet ski operator licences provisional for the first year. If they get up to their usual tricks, they lose their licence and cannot reapply in the future. They're out of the game for good.

Make all licences 1 or 2 year licences. Even if they have a full licence, it can be refused next time round based on previous behaviour.

Make a small unit - staffed from people outside the usual Phuket political structure - responsible for all vetting and issuing of licences.

Lastly, enforce the licencing with a zero tolerance remit. Whether it's the MIB, navy or dedicated officers from the licencing authority, if they find a jet ski without a licence, it's impounded and/or scrapped. This last one is particularly important, because without it, any and all plans to solve the problem fall apart.

Posted by Doug on August 5, 2011 21:49


I agree the seven years are up they were told plenty of time ago to make alternative arrangements to earn money but I suppose the only way to earn as much as they do now would be to rob banks instead of tourists

Posted by michael on August 6, 2011 06:13


What will help is I will forward this story to all major farang newspaper to be included in the travel sections. So when no farangs come to Phuket and Pattaya then the scammers can rip off their own people.

Posted by tiger on August 6, 2011 09:04


Send the Anti-Corruption guys down from Bangkok. The whole industry is corrupt.

Operators License - pay off an official. No new licenses should be issued, right?

Beach Fee - pay off to local government to use the beach (same as beach chairs).

Transportation - illegally home made carriers, dangerously attached to each other, block traffic, vehicles not insured to carry these loads.

Company Structure - Whether sole prop., joint venture, or limited company, the revenues they claim to be making should mean lots of taxes to the Revenue Dept. Like Al Capone, get them on not paying taxes.

Scams - the beach boys can't afford 300K to buy a jet ski. Big money / influence req'd. They get minimum wage plus a percentage of whatever they can get in damages.

What's that saying, "A fish rots from the head down", go after the owners for tax evasion and then revoke their licenses. With the cowboys gone, the legit one's can remain, with higher scrutiny, perhaps by Navy as Ed mentions.

It will never happen, but we can always hope.

Posted by GiantFan on August 6, 2011 11:23


"The Thai Royal Navy has an impeccable reputation for honesty".
Aren't these the people who push out the Burmese boat people with no water, food or fuel?
Maybe they could give the jetskis to them and push out the scammers, instead? Win win.

Posted by john on August 6, 2011 11:23

Editor Comment:

The boatpeople were not Burmese, but Rohingya. The army and paramilitary volunteers were behind the pushbacks.


Jet Ski scammer, J.J., pulled a gun on his customers. Broadcast around the world. He is still on the beach extorting tourists.

The problem is the police backing up the scammers.

Posted by Paul on August 6, 2011 11:44


The Pattaya Mayor has come under a fair amount of pressure his facebook page is very interesting.

Posted by mal c on August 8, 2011 17:38


How does this sound. Why don't some of the commentators on here learn how to speak, read and write thai before they start telling Thai people how to run their country.

You should at least show some respect to your new home's culture before you start telling them how things should be done.

Posted by Mick on August 9, 2011 23:58


A complaint on the Pattaya Mayor's facebook page.
Mr Mayor you have stirred up a hornets nest buy not implementing new regulations and insurance at the time of registration. Scams along the beach since the registration process have increased dramatically and guess who suffers, the innocent tourist. Between the two shopping centres scams are continuing , these vendor know the law can not do anything to them so they are going for it big time. Please do something. City hall have responsibility to tourists coming to thailand it is a disgrace and sickening to watch. Why not suspend all jet ski activity until the regulations are place ?. Hasn't Pattaya got enough bad publicity over this ?

Posted by mtc on August 14, 2011 20:04

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