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Phuket taxis and tuk tuks under the microscope again after passenger ripped off

The Thaiger

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Phuket taxis and tuk tuks under the microscope again after passenger ripped off | The Thaiger
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Local Phuket transport and provincial officials are AGAIN trying to tackle the island’s notorious taxi and tuk tuk ‘mafias’, after another passenger complained of being ripped off. The island has a long history of extortionate transport costs for local taxis and tuk tuks, giving Phuket a poor and infamous reputation for over-priced transport and rude drivers.

Efforts to attract travellers back to the island, after 9 months of almost zero international tourism, hit another speed bump this week after a domestic traveller posted a complaint on social media, claiming she was ripped off by a taxi driver who charged her 200 baht per kilometre. Her complaint mirrors thousands of complaints received by local transport authorities and a long list of similar stories on TripAdvisor and social media over the years.

On average travellers in Phuket can expect to pay 3-5 times the fares charged by similar services in Bangkok. Even the online services like Grab have been forced to match their prices to the local, highly inflated rates around Phuket.

Posting on social media on December 7 the traveller wondered if the rate she was bring charged was normal.

“Is it the normal rate. I thought I was in a taxi in a foreign country.”

Her post kicked the provincial governor into gear and forced transport officials to respond. She was travelling with 2 others and 3 items of luggage, according to her post.

Phuket’s governor Narong Woonciew says that he’s had ordered local authorities to contact the disgruntled passenger to check the details in her social media post as well as provincial transport authorities to check and make sure local taxis follow the official rate.

Phuket’s long history and issues with the local tuk tuk and taxi mafia have been a thorn in the side of provincial and tourism officials who have been powerless to counter the cabal of local families who control the system and threaten any new players, including state-sponsored buses, from providing any sort of competition. The Thai government and police have also stepped in and been similarly driven out of town, impotent against the gangs and ‘big money’.

Local business people and tourism operators believe the comments from the governor and provincial transport officials, and their promised ‘investigation’ are just paying lip-service to the passenger’s woes and, as usual, little will change.

The problems start when travellers step off their planes and are confronted with little choice other than the private taxis and meters that rarely work, despite the law stating that all registered taxis must use a meter. Many of these taxi meters are also doctored and have been turbo-charged to tick over must faster than the legal kilometre rate.

Another high profile case was in July 2019, when 2 Australian tourists filed complaints at Karon police station when a passenger van driver charged them 3,000 baht to take them from Phuket airport to a hotel less than 50 kilometres away.

The official rate sets the taxi fare at 50 baht for the first 2 kilometres, 12 baht for the 2nd to the 15th kilometre and 10 baht for the 15th kilometre and beyond, according to the Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, Phuket’s governor invited domestic airlines to increase the number of flights to Phuket. There are currently 60-70 flights per day, down from 300 flights before services were grounded at the start of April. Even so, there are still spare seats on the local flights, according to Thaiger staff who travel regularly between their offices in Bangkok and Phuket.

Phuket’s international Airport terminal remains closed at this time.

A few other posts from TripAdvisor (there are also plenty of good experiences listed on the site too). We advise doing your homework before jumping into a taxi or tuk tuk in Phuket.

• “Don’t be fooled by the desk at the exit from the airport! They are coordinating the prices and taking too much money!
Go to the main entrance of the airport and pick up a formal taxi on your own! Will save you a lot!”

• “To say this was the worst services I have ever expirance is to put it lightly. They charge a flat rate for all destinations, and as we were heading to Kata Beach, we thought that was fair. Absolute disaster.

The cab didn’t want to take us as we were a long distance, and tried to bundle us in to a joint cab, even though we had paid 1000 tbh, for a private car. After 20 mins my wife went to the ‘controller’ in the cabbie hut and he closed the window on her!!!

After an hour, and several attempts to get into cabs and get our money back, we went and got the airport police to help us, and the cab company quickly gave us a refund. We got in a meter cab within in minutes and it ended up being cheaper.”

• “Tuk Tuk drivers charge tourists more than they charge locals, this is disgusting. One of the most boring things in Patong is being harassed by Tuk Tuk drivers every second they are in your face saying Tuk Tuk Taxi, I have no idea where they think they are going to take you, they seem to think everyone wants a Tuk Tuk all the time. If you want to go to Phuket town take the bus its only 30 Baht.”

• “My friends and I agreed on a price with the driver. Then halfway to our hotel he pulls over and asks for more money. We said no so he kept going. Then he pulled about 2 or 3km still to our hotel and tells us to get out. We argued with him and then gave him the money as he was so rude and wouldn’t take us the rest of the way. We had to pay for another tuk tuk to take us the rest of the way. A few days later we thought we would give them another chance and he dropped us in the middle of nowhere. HORRIBLE EXPERIENCES!!!!”

Thailand’s taxi and tuk tuk scams and annoyances

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Alte Ledertasche

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    Nothing new.

    The majority of the taxi monkeys on Phuket are a complete disgrace and their only target is to rip off customers and especially foreigners as much as they can. Additional to that they are driving like idiots, sometimes taking other passengers along the way etc. etc., they even running out of fuel some times and than walk with a cherry can to the next petrol station.

    If you regularly need to fly in and out of Phuket better buy use your own car and park it at the airport, 200thb per day or ask a friend to bring you and pick you up, pay his bar bill next time. Tourists unfortunately not have this choice.

    And NOT use a tuk tuk, never ever.

    • Avatar

      Perceville Smithers

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      BS! Don’t make stuff up.

      • Avatar

        Alte Ledertasche

        Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6:31 pm

        Really ? Come to Phuket and you will see.

        I was using this morons for around 4 month. Than I had enough and hired a private driver.

        • Avatar

          Preesy Chepuce

          Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 8:57 pm

          Why not just hire a car? Some great deals to be had. I never had to deal with local taxi turkeys, but it sounds like the best strategy is to give them a suitcase full of rocks and ask them to hand you the key to open the boot for them, and off you go…

    • Avatar

      Marc

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6:45 pm

      I’ve never seen a tuk tuk at the HKT airport??? Been going in and out of that airport for years and have never had an issue.

    • Avatar

      Lustiger Holzhacker

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Whenever I need transport to or from the airport I get my Thai partner to order the taxi and negotiate the fee. No problem, the car arrives, takes me to my destination, my partner pays. I live in Chiang Mai.

      • Avatar

        Graham Smith

        Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 6:15 pm

        Just a little question! What do you do when you eat, for example? Does your partner feed you then? Pathetic, she probably carries your wallet too.

    • Avatar

      Kim

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Spot on. The majority of the taxi, van and lorry drivers are all deranged buffalo crack heads. Much easier just to park your car and pay thb 200 per day as already mentioned.

    • Avatar

      albert zweistein

      Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 12:08 am

      Alte lederhose, the proper name is JERRY can. Jerry or Jerries stands for Germans, their nickname during WW2. My pleasure.

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:26 pm

        Ah but it would be a cherry can if it was coloured cherry red . . . .

  2. Avatar

    Andres

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    In Pattaya taxi minimum 200 Baht, going 3km trip to Bus Station taxi driver said….we are controlled by mafia. Amazing Thailand. Land of Scam!

    • Avatar

      Mikael Tonning Chokprod

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:12 pm

      LOS = Land Of Scam ?
      Before = Land Of Smile ?

    • Avatar

      Ynwaps

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 10:03 pm

      Yes and they are even controlling grab there. Must be some powerful mafia that has deep ties to force grab implement the same prices.
      I think the starting price is at 170 baht and if you drive 10min you’d be charged 300 baht already. Back and forth 600 baht for going out for “dinner”.
      The flight from Vietnam to Pattaya is cheaper than the drive from the airport to the hotel by taxi or grab.

      • Avatar

        Preesy Chepuce

        Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 7:49 pm

        I went to Patong Beach for the first time in my life today. Left after 5 minutes. What a horrible place. Why would anyone spend money to go there?! It reminds me of Pattaya, though I only visited there once ever, and in more normal times. You feel like everyone is a shark.

        • Avatar

          Ynwaps

          Monday, December 14, 2020 at 10:07 am

          It’s the rich and lazy who only want to stay in the same resort for a week being served by rude or inattentive Thai staff. Then they leave negative feedback and have to pay hefty settlements.

  3. Avatar

    jesus monroe

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry to hear about your experiences. The mob always know how to welcome you……..greed turns to leave

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    This scamming by taxi drivers in Phuket has been going on for years.
    The police and authorities have to have been paid off, or can be paid off by the taxi drivers caught.
    There is no other explanation . . .

  5. Avatar

    Jeff Jewel

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    Start putting them in jail and it will stop. When there’s no severe consequences, the behavior doesn’t abate.

  6. Avatar

    Mike

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    I can see the headline now:

    “Same As usual in Thailand”

    But the fact there isn’t a regular public bus from the airport to the main tourist destinations including Phuket Town is a disgrace. To think that Thailand sees itself as a World class tourist destination yet its most wealthy province and premier destination can’t even organise a public bus is pathetic.

    • Avatar

      Mr cynic

      Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 7:13 pm

      They did start an econmical bus service years ago that went from the airport to town with a linked micro bus service to the beach resort’s.

      Intimidation tactics were used to have it very quickly stopped.

  7. Avatar

    luca

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    without foreign tourists the Thais are discovering that they are not what they want others to believe, if an Englishman or a Frenchman or a Chinese had complained they would have agreed with the cheating taxi driver

  8. Avatar

    Marcus

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Thats why no Thai people come to Phuket. This disgraceful taxi drivers along with oberoriced and low quality hotels and restaurants in the west coast will now bankrupt as there is no naibe tourists to pay them. They get their karma…

  9. Avatar

    Bobby B

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    This started about 6-7 years ago when the Russians tried to get into the taxi and laundry (clothes not money) business, more less steeling the Thai jobs and providing a really bad alternative, and always more expensive.

    • Avatar

      Alte Ledertasche

      Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 8:52 am

      It started long before that.

      Actually Russian drivers are cheaper and better, same as cleaning and laundry services run by Russians.

      Applies actually to a lot businesses run by foteigners if you compare them to businesses run by locals. And even if they are more expensive you get what you pay and most important you get it on time and you not have to deal with solly no have, maybe tomollow and other stupod eccuses and facesaving bullshxx.

  10. Avatar

    James Pate

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Nothing new here. Yes, taxis in Pattaya can be expensive, but merely a fraction of what they charge in Phuket. There is absolutely nothing in Phuket which appeals to me but, to each his own.

  11. Avatar

    Mike

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    If you recall some transport gov officials went there to deal withe issues of mafia transport criminals and hurriedly left with no success ! The island deserves to go down the sewer economically

  12. Avatar

    J West

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Covid poverty is divine karma for the thieves and scum who’ve prayed on tourists of any origin in every country. Let them starve. If tourists never return it will be a righteous serving of cosmic justice.

  13. Avatar

    Rather be Anon

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    I arrived in Phuket 2009 and it has been going on ever since, that I can attest to, the Local government have said that that would deal with it but…

  14. Avatar

    Tori123

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    LUCA – I agree. It’s been a disgrace for too long.

  15. Avatar

    Tori123

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Why ? Why ?

  16. Avatar

    John

    Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    It’s good to know they’ve been scrounging for rats and bugs to feed themselves and their families these past 10 months.

  17. Avatar

    Jane f

    Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Unbelievable that the government let this go on year after year..
    It’s the same in Koh Samui….
    Same rip off taxi mafia and even grab cost 500 baths for 1km trip !
    Get this sorted!!!!!

  18. Avatar

    Terry

    Sunday, December 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    prob. the worst thing is; The officials know about this (probl. in on the scams as well) The government seems like they do not care about sorting this out. Fairness and honesty is not Thai way!

  19. Avatar

    Jerrod Valles

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 8:19 am

    LOL This is why I always rent a car $30.00/day when I’ve visiting Phuket.

  20. Avatar

    Ray

    Monday, December 14, 2020 at 10:09 am

    I’ve visited Phuket numerous times. I’ve grown so tired of these tuk tuk / taxis gang that I’ve rented cars / motorbikes online. The best part is I rent it from the airport and when it’s time to leave I drive it back to the airport so that covers my transport charges to and from the airport.
    Ive no words for these scams. Good luck to them .
    Cheers

  21. Avatar

    Chris

    Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    There are buses from the airport. One orange bus to Phuket town for 100 baht and another SMART bus to the tourist beaches. A bit of research can help find the timetables 🙂

  22. Avatar

    farangang

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 11:13 pm

    I would not rely on taxis unless travelling with locals or already knowing some drivers making me a good price. When available, I would look for songthaew or, as last resort, car rentals.

  23. Avatar

    Alexander

    Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 7:05 am

    It’s worse in Chiangmai where the taxis from the airport refuse to run the meter and charge 259 baht for a 70 baht ride…..

  24. Avatar

    Anti-hypocrite

    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Double Standards. “Dont be fooled by the desk in front of the airport” they say. Then why would you charge high price to rent the desk in the first place? Just take out all the desk altogether. Problem solved. No more hypocrites.

    Desk Taxi charges high price.
    Rent price for desk high price.
    AOT/Phuket Gov gets money.
    and now the Phuket Gov says to dont charge tourist high price? Double standards.

    Just take out the desks at the airport.

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