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

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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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