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A Phuket jet-ski video warning will cost good and bad operators business

Phuket Jet-Skis: Aussie Video Warning

Friday, August 19, 2011
PHUKET: Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is making a video warning travellers about Phuket's jet-ski scammers that will be posted on the Internet soon.

Footage for the video was shot on Patong beach by Australian Embassy officials earlier this month and is now being processed in Australia.

Release of the video on YouTube will highlight lack of action by Phuket authorities to halt the jet-ski scams.

Good jet-ski operators on Phuket are now likely to suffer a loss of business with the rogue operators, who mostly work Patong beach, Phuket's best-known west coast destination.

Even the Tourism Authority of Thailand has recently reported in a news release the rising number of complaints from tourists who have been ripped off or threatened by jet-ski thugs in Phuket and Pattaya.

Despite years of plain-speaking by envoys from Australia, China, Britain, Korea, and other key tourism markets, the Australians are now being forced to act to save travellers from the thugs of Patong beach.

Release of the Australian video will be interpreted on Phuket and in government circles in Bangkok as an international indictment of the lack of action by Phuket authorities.

Australia's honorary consul for Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi, Larry Cunningham, said today that online travel forums were now full of reports by travellers on how they had been ripped off by ''the jet-ski mafia'' on Phuket.

Mr Cunningham, who has been interviewed for the video, said: ''Reports of the scams by jet-ski operators on Phuket just keep coming. The rip-offs have proved so lucrative that motorcycle hirers on Phuket are now trying the same scam.''

Several scams based on different scenarios are employed by jet-ski operators but the most obvious one involves pre-existing damage that is only spotted by the operator when the tourist returns the vehicle.

''Motorcycle hirers in Patong have tried this twice recently,'' Mr Cunningham said. ''Scratches on the underside of the motorcycle are only revealed when the renter returns it.

'''You've been using this off-road,' they say. Extra money is demanded.''

Mr Cunningham said there had also been two recent cases where motorcycle hirers had used duplicate keys to make off with motorcycles at night, demanding the full cost of a replacement vehicle from tourists.

''Most people who come to Phuket for a holiday have a great time,'' Mr Cunningham said. ''But it's upsetting that nothing is being done to deal with the dark side.

''I can't tell you how disturbing it is to have visitors robbed, threatened by the jet-ski gangs and sometimes reduced to tears in these incidents.

''The scamming on Phuket has been raised repeatedly. The rip-offs continue.''

Jet-skis and the high fares of tuk-tuks are likely to again be items on the agenda when Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha meets with Phuket's honorary consuls on August 31.

Both issues have been discussed at length without resolution since the first of the innovative quarterly ''summit'' meetings on Phuket early last year.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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There are GOOD JET SKI operators.....How amusing! Who needs to pay for the comedy club tickets...

Posted by gravitas on August 19, 2011 10:41

Editor Comment:

Have they let you out from Thai Visa for the day, gravitas?

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Let's be constructive: what's about an article picturing some "good jet ski operators", with information on how to find them? Can be extended to a little forum where it would be possible to
report on honest jet ski, tuk-tuk and motorbike rentals.

Posted by pmoo on August 19, 2011 11:03

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It is a shame that, unfortunately, history shows us that the Thai authorities often only react when issues are made highly public. For example, the Walter-Bau issue was quickly solved (after 20 years of feet dragging) when it suddenly came into the public arena.

The making and circulating of this video, with added gravitas from the Aussie Consul, might be just what was needed. It is a shame of course that the decent, hard working folk involved in tourism will all be tarred with the same brush, but the authorities have had long enough to clean up their act.

They've needed a kick up the backside for a while and now, here it is !

Posted by Mr Man on August 19, 2011 11:16

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Looks like the s*** is going to hit the fan...

Posted by Skipy on August 19, 2011 11:29

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This is another positive step of warning people but the Australian government should be saying that this scam is not just in Phuket .

It is still impossible to walk along Pattaya beach with out coming across the scam all the authorities do when the press gets hot is have another meeting.

Posted by mtc on August 19, 2011 12:21

Editor Comment:

More Aussies go to Phuket, hence the concern.

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Not before time. These scammers need to be sorted out. Make sure if you hire anything, take photos before hand.

Posted by chaseone on August 19, 2011 13:17

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Well everyone was warned and warned,so the inevitable was soon to happen.The Jetski operators cannot complain that they have been hard done by. What about the poor unsuspecting Aussies who got ripped off, was any consideration given to them? Even a 10 year old lad's parents were assured everything was safe. WRONG, not covered by insurance, thats' if they have insurance.
Also something should be done in relation to motor bike scams that are a daily happening, I love Phuket don't get me wrong, but this type of activity cant be sustained if they want to retain the Aussie Tourist trade, what would the Authorities say if there was a sharp decline in tourist visitors, NOT GOOD FOR THAILAND

Posted by Alex on August 19, 2011 13:34

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well the jet ski boys have had enough warnings to clean things up and they failed to do so...It's good to see the Aussie gov't taking action like this...They have been more than patient and have pleaded with authorities here more times than what was needed to take care of things and at the expense of their citizens being ripped off and threatened over and over again....No choice left but to do what they have to do...Bravo!

Posted by sky on August 19, 2011 14:21

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Whatever happened to the famous JJ court case? We read about him being arrested but never heard anymore! Does anyone know? Is it still pending? Or just swept under the carpet? Would be really interesting to find out..

Posted by gravitas on August 19, 2011 14:30

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Editor Comment:

Have they let you out from Thai Visa for the day, gravitas?

Really not sure what your comment means ED, please advise

Posted by gravitas on August 19, 2011 14:33

Editor Comment:

Your inference that there are no good jet-ski operators is the kind of assumption made on Thai Visa, gravitas.

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You got to read the "Let's be constructive" post. Does this guy live in a dream world or what? WAKE UP!

Posted by Anonymous on August 19, 2011 23:46

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"You got to read the "Let's be constructive" post. Does this guy live in a dream world or what? WAKE UP!

Posted by Anonymous"

Ah, here we go again. So, you know for certain that every jet ski operator is crooked? Yes, this problem has gone on too long and yes it is bad for Phuket but so is labeling and anonymous slander. One can frame a disagreement with a post without snide mockery and by actually contributing something to a thread and adding to the discussion as pmoo attempted. If you disagree with a post, why? What evidence do you have to believe otherwise?

No one is saying the ripoffs don't happen nor that they should be allowed to continue. But consider how many jet ski's are rented daily on the island and how many end in scams. How many of the total number of operators on the island are involved involved? Is it, (as I speculate, admittedly I have no evidence to support it other than common sense) consistently the same people who are involved in the scams? To paint all with the same brush is certainly more foolish than to try to look at the positive. Just as it is unjust to punish the good with the bad. The mob mentality of this sort is what gives justification to rioters in London and general bigotry. Comments like this one and the first post in this thread are dangerous because the reinforce the idea that a certain segment of the population is all bad. For example, I have run into many expats on this island who are narrow-minded, drunk, lying, uncultured, lazy, bigoted, non-thinkers does that mean that they all are?

For all the sturm und drang on this issue I wonder how many of you are really affected? How many of you have actually ever rented a jet ski, talked with an operator, dealt with this issue first hand and really have any actual knowledge to impart?

Jet ski scams and ripoffs should be stopped, we all agree. Bad tuk-tuk operators exist and should be dealt with, no question. But it is a leap of ignorance to say all jet ski operators and tuk-tuk drivers are criminals. As it is a leap to say many posters are this site are unthinking narrow-minded bigots. It takes no mental acuity to write an anonymous comment slandering a group/race/profession/nation and it neither adds to the discussion or to general knowledge. Pathetic.

Posted by Martin on August 20, 2011 09:12

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I think the "lets be constructive" comment is pretty valid. On sites like trip advisor some good drivers for instance are reccomended and get a lot of business as a result. Good hotels, good restaurants and good bars are the same and prosper because of it. Why should jet ski operators be any different. They can't all be bad, can they??

Posted by Pete on August 20, 2011 10:55

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Editor Comment:

Your inference that there are no good jet-ski operators is the kind of assumption made on Thai Visa, gravitas.

Extremely valid point ED - Can you or any other readers please name one? Or at least tell me the location? Thats the real acid test!

Posted by gravitas on August 20, 2011 13:02

Editor Comment:

You have to prove the guilt of all the jet-ski operators, not the other way around . . . only in a perverse world are all Thais guilty until proven innocent. Are you part of that perverse world, gravitas? Surely someone with such a heavyweight moniker understands the basics of fairness and justice.

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"Can you or any other readers please name one? Or at least tell me the location?"

OK, so the Editor can't tell us. Can someone else?

Posted by Eric on August 20, 2011 13:40

Editor Comment:

This is your first comment on Phuketwan, Eric, and you've already proved that comprehension is not one of your key skills. Apart from JJ, please name one other jet-ski operator, good or bad.

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Ed - How long have you lived in Phuket may i be so bold as to ask? I have been here 12 years, have a Thai wife and have done huge amounts over the years in both a private and professional sense to promote Thailand as one of the worlds great destinations
7 years ago we were told all jet skis would be fazed out, now there are more than ever, they are unregulated, unlicenced and in the main uninsured, I really do not understand your position on this subject as all these people are doing is bringing the name of Phuket into disrepute......

Posted by gravitas on August 20, 2011 15:16

Editor Comment:

My view has been expressed many times here, gravitas, without the need to resort to blaming all jet-ski operators for the scams of rogue operators. I've been here long enough to have a jet-ski operator threaten to ''smear blood all over'' my face. Look back through ''jet-ski'' on Phuketwan and you'll realise we've witnessed scams at close quarters.

Length of time on Phuket is no measure of wisdom, and blaming all operators solves nothing.

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I have been coming to Phuket for 12 years and I rent a jet ski several days during my holidays. So I have probably rented a jet ski 30 times. I have never ever had any problem with any jet ski or jet ski operator every time I rented one. I have never been loyal to any one jet ski operator. I pick whichever one is closed to where I am. I think people who have had problems with jet skis in Phuket have just had very bad luck on the day they rented them, or they actually did damage it and then tried to cause a fight to avoid paying for it. They are the 1% of customers who complain loudly and give jet skis an undeserved bad name in Phuket. I have always been completely satisfied the 30 or so times I've rented a jet ski in Phuket over the past 12 years. Maybe 1% of the jet ski operators try to cheat the customer and if you're unlucky you'll rent from one of those operators. Maybe I've just been one of the very lucky ones, but I'd never discourage anyone from enjoying jet skis without any problems in Phuket.

Posted by Richard Mulcahy on August 20, 2011 15:20

Editor Comment:

Thanks Richard, but it would be good to have 100 percent certainty that there were no cheats. Virtually every time I have been to Patong beach, I've encountered a dispute. This is not to say the jet-ski operators are in the wrong every time. Walk the length of the beach on any Sunday afternoon, and the chances are you will be surprised.

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Why not wait what effect this youtube video will have? Judging from the one with JJ, who by the way was dismissed, because his account of staging a show for the camera was believed, it will have none.

So many times. So boring. I hope the PMs adviser will see this as a tool to level the local structure in his favor and the local bigwigs will fear that and do something about it so it cannot be used to unsettle them or even put them to a cell or Dubai or a posting in South Thailand.

Posted by Lena on August 20, 2011 15:28

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Actually I have walked the beach on many, many Sunday afternoons and have yet to encounter a dispute. Perhaps I have been lucky, perhaps it happens less than some people want to portray. If it happens once it is too much.

I haven't rented a jet ski in several years but there were many times in the first ten years I lived here I did. I never had a problem of any sort. Again, no one disputes that there are bad apples but I don't understand how despite having any evidence you can insist gravitas, that all jet ski operators or even most are scamming. . Do you have any evidence to back this up? It reminds me of other silly claims made on this site like "every expat lies to get his work permit or thousands of expats have fake companies". If you have real proof show it, if not, it is just speculation and contrary to common sense or logic.

Posted by Martin on August 20, 2011 18:15

Editor Comment:

Perhaps it's the difference between knowing what to expect and where to look, and being intent on a pleasant stroll. The last time we visited Patong beach, we stepped out of the parked car, walked perhaps 20 metres, encountered two broken machines, and nearby a group of jet-ski operators and the hapless renters under a tree, debating the amount of damage. The time before that. a family group of tourists was debating the cost under an umbrella stand on the sand. The only giveaway was the body language. The likelihood is that only a small fraction of the incidents are ever reported on Phuketwan or elsewhere.

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Ok, reasonable to assume I didn't see because I didn't know what to look for. The questions remain:

What percentage of rentals result in scams?
What percentage of operators are involved in scams?
What can the average person do about it?

If the Aussie's are going to this length and based on this article the embassies have decided they are powerless, and that is not a good sign.

Posted by Martin on August 20, 2011 20:04

Editor Comment:

The local authorities who could sort this out don't have the willpower to do so. They don't see the problem because they don't want to see the problem. Complaints have been made to the TAT, to local English-language media, to local police, to Tourist Police, and to envoys on Phuket and in Bangkok. Unfortunately, when there's action on the beaches, representatives of Marine Office Region 5, which oversees the jet-skis, are nowhere to be found. They're in denial. ''What problem?'' they say. It's time they were told by Bangkok authorities o do their job, or make way for someone who is prepared to do their job.

Percentages? Probably many jet-ski owners inflate costs if there's a crash. Others try rip-offs more regularly. A fair scale for damages of all kinds needs to be established - once the most troublesome operators have been removed from the beach.

The embassies are never powerless. They have the power to turn off the tourism tap, or at least reduce the flow. This is not a decision that would have been taken lightly. It reflects poorly on the Phuket authorities who have promised to safeguard and protect all tourists.

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The real and big problem is the absolute ineptitude of local authorities, not to mention the police, if a farang has a problem with a Thai, better not call the police, the problems will increase rather than decrease, I'm speaking from my experience of five years in Thailand.

Posted by Steven on August 21, 2011 10:44

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you've had too many of the wrong kind of problems, Steven. Without a detailed explanation, it's difficult to know whether your claim is justified. Other expats do get the cooperation of police and authorities. In any case, this thread is about jet-skis.

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I'm just talking about the jet ski, I called the police because 6 illegal charterers of jet ski in Patong have surrounded me and my girlfriend, threatening us. They wanted 25000 baht for a scratch that was probably made before, I tried to discuss calmly, they hit me with a kick, the policeman who spoke seemed very much agree with them, made me realize that it was better to pay for not having even bigger problems.
I'm sure that does not always work in this way in Thailand, but my first and only experience with the jet ski was this two years ago .. Perhaps I was very unlucky, but certainly until I do not see it changing, I do not recommend my compatriots to rent jet ski in Patong.. I still love Thailand, but after 5 years a little less Thai guys.

Posted by Steven on August 21, 2011 11:20

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The operators who are ripping tourists off are quite simply committing fraud, they should be charged accordingly.
The statistics as to how many people are ripped off would be very difficult to prove. I suspect the majority of incidents go unreported. Many tourists are 'prevented' from going to the police.

Posted by Phuket Kop on August 21, 2011 21:56

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Still waiting for someone to inform me of the name or at least the location of a reputable jet ski operator! If in this forum i asked for recommendations for a good restaurant, hotel, thai restaurant, rent a car, bar, massage service etc etc i would have had numerous replies! So please excuse the cynicism, but are we to assume that one does not exist?

Posted by gravitas on August 21, 2011 22:58

Editor Comment:

What you can possibly assume if you must make assumptions is that very few readers bother riding jet-skis, or if they do - as one reader has written - they have tried different parts of the beach and never had any problems. Exclamation marks don't make any difference.

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Editor, I agree with Gravitas,
over the years there have been so many reports of Jet Ski rip off's that the only sensible advice for Tourists would be ''do not hire Jet Ski's'' sure you can get away without being scammed, but why risk it ?
There is no appetite for policing the Jet Skiers so the cleanest solution would be to ban all of them. Quietier beaches and less scams, wow what a dream....

Posted by Koh on August 25, 2011 00:09

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When's this video coming out, and will Phuketwan carry the link when it does or is that risky?

Posted by JingJing on August 26, 2011 18:52

Editor Comment:

It could be weeks or months. Depends on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I guess that if the authorities actually did something about getting rid of the rogues in the meantime, the YouTube warning wouldn't be necessary.

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I have watched numerous jet ski scams in Pattaya.
(Tourists actually go to the beach to watch the scams now. It's become an attraction)
I estimate the beach mafia takes about 300,000 per day in Pattaya. That's 9 million a month!
The police have already chosen to not stop it.
I expect Larry is going to have some 'problems.'

Posted by Jeff on September 1, 2013 07:11


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