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Investigators check the story of the taxi driver ''asking for directions''

Phuket Taxi Driver Barred for Six Months as Facebook Post Exposes Tour Scam

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
PHUKET: A Phuket taxi driver has been fined 1000 baht and suspended for six months after ''kidnapping'' a newly-arrived tourist and trying to sell him package tours before he had even reached his holiday resort.

Phuket Governor Jamleran Tipayapongtada sanctioned the penalties yesterday in meeting with driver Muhummad Arobt Musor and tourism industry authorities after the story of the rip-off broke on Facebook.

Montira Sakom told what happened in a post on the popular social media site.

She and her foreign boyfriend landed at Phuket International Airport on Saturday and caught a cab.

Instead of taking them directly to their resort destination in Patong, the driver went to Thalang where the couple were ushered into the Infinity Tour counter.

Efforts were made to sell package tours to the reluctant foreigner until he left, removed his luggage from Khun Muhummad's vehicle, and found another taxi.

The ''kidnapping'' of arriving tourists is a well-known scam in which taxi drivers try to build on the excessive fares they charge on Phuket by also gaining illicit commissions.

People who say greed is Phuket's biggest problem may have a point.

Santi Pawai, the Phuket Director of Tourism and Sport, told yesterday's meeting that he went to the Infinity Tour office and warned them of sanctions if the scam was repeated.

The taxi driver said he had only been a driver for four months and dropped off at the tour office ''to ask for directions to get to Patong.''

Khun Santi said the taxi driver's version of events sounded a little suspicious.

The quick action by authorities indicates a readiness by Governor Jamleran's new administration to deal with issues that have not been addressed until now.

Comments

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The taxi driver said he had only been a driver for four months and dropped off at the tour office ''to ask for directions to get to Patong.''

Wait...he said this in front of the Governor with a straight face? 1000 Baht is about one average fare. When are these penalties going to get serious?

Posted by sugarman on November 3, 2015 11:28

Editor Comment:

Six months ban on working as a taxi driver seems serious to us, sugarman.

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have mercy with him! how could he know they way to patong if he is here for 4 months only?

Posted by herbert on November 3, 2015 11:33

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Patong (enter through the gift shop)

Posted by Jiff on November 3, 2015 12:00

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It's quite difficult as it's a straight road from the airport with large signs saying PATONG. Don't forget the driver has to remember where he's really going at the same time so is trying to avoid the signs & distract customers. Not an easy job!

Posted by Anonymous on November 3, 2015 12:04

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As mentioned in this article, then it is well known in the hotel business, that nearly all minibuses and many taxis from the airport, takes tourists to an office, where they try to redirect the tourists to hotels, which pay commission.

This murky business has been going on for decades, so pretending to be ignorant about this makes no sense. Can just hope the officials will make a serious clamp down, instead of slapping a single driver, who just did as everybody else do.

Proving this is easily done. Just send some farang volunteers with minibuses and taxis from the airport and let them tell of their experiences and take some photos.

Posted by Sherlock on November 3, 2015 13:08

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I'm beginning to like this new governor already. Taxi driver's behaviour is despicable. Only he should be charged more like 6000 Baht and made an example of to show others not to do the same. Is that Boat Avenue I see in the photo? Nowhere near Patong. This guy is really lost. Chuckle.

Posted by Paradise on November 3, 2015 13:58

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Editor Comment:

Six months ban on working as a taxi driver seems serious to us, sugarman.

Ed: All other sources reporting this including the national press are saying a one month ban - not 6 months. The penalty (time and money) is piffling. Trifling in fact.

Posted by sugarman on November 3, 2015 15:27

Editor Comment:

I'm not going to search every other site but one rival site says: Mr Muhammad has since been fined B1,000 and had his lincence suspended for six months.

Their spelling seems a problem but the penalty is the same.

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'Six months ban on working as a taxi driver seems serious to us" Yes, if the ban was actually enforced.

He's likely back at work already as no one in authority will actually follow this up.

Seizing the vehicle as part of the punishment would have sent out a stronger message.

"The quick action by authorities indicates a readiness by Governor Jamleran's new administration to deal with issues that have not been addressed until now." Interesting that these issues wee not addressed when he was Vice Governor- oh hang on, he had the taxis sorted out then as well according to Phuketwan, didn't he!

Posted by Mister Ree on November 3, 2015 15:50

Editor Comment:

The taxi situation improved back then, MR. You glass is always not just half full, but almost empty. It's a doomsayer failing.

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4 months a driver he sure learnt the tricks of trade quickly his excuse he just happened to stop at a commission kiosk for directions has no credibility.

Posted by slickmelb on November 3, 2015 16:00

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Same thing happened to me 10+ years ago. I rented an apartment at Sky Inn in Patong and was back from a short trip to BKK. The taxi driver stopped in a travel agency to "ask they way". They begin to tell me that the place I was going to was closed, etc... while I had the key of my room in the hand. A real pain and this scam still exists.

Posted by Anonymous on November 3, 2015 16:19

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What about drivers with tour brochures inside their taxis and minibus?
And all taxi booths promoting tours?
They do not have TAT licence 34/007!

Posted by WhistleBlower on November 3, 2015 16:54

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How does anyone, particularly the "Director of Tourism and Sports" think these offices make their money? How many people does he think get into taxis and actually ask to be taken to a tour counter in the middle of nowhere?

The good director knows well that this has always gone on. About a year ago it seemed to be being addressed. I'm sorry to say that, like many other issues that were being addressed, this blight on Phukets reputation seems to have come creeping back.

Posted by CaptainJack on November 3, 2015 20:05

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Personnally I think this scam/ scandal has gone on long enough. Anyone make a guess, 10/15 years now , and not one governor has done anything to put a stop to it. Maybe it's up to everyone to write a letter of complaint to the Phuket office( can't remember the address) and see if it helps. I, for one, am sick and tired of it happening to me, despite the fact I say , do not take me to the office , before I get in the taxi. Who do they think we are, stupid, fools, both?

Posted by Elizabeth on November 4, 2015 00:09

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Just seen on another post that one can post a complaint via Facebook on Page , Phuket Governor.

Posted by Elizabeth on November 4, 2015 00:14

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We run a day trip to some island around Phuket and everyday we have stories like this, EVERY DAY. Not later than yesterday when the conversation came up to that story posted on FB, a couple told other clients touring with us that they had exactly the same problem. The driver told them that he had to stop so that his license could be scanned then someone try to get the clients out of the car but would not do it because did not want to leave they bags unattended so that person got in the taxi and was VERY "pushy" almost aggressive. If the authority, Mr Pawai really wanted to do something, he could just ask anyone with hidden cameras to take a ride from airport to anywhere with "join" minibus or taxi.

Posted by Phuket119 on November 4, 2015 20:10

Editor Comment:

We hope this scam will be obliterated by officials, followed by the excessive commissions taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers take for delivering customers to venues all over the island. Fifteen or 20 percent is acceptable, not 50 or 60 percent.


Friday October 19, 2018
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