The 51-year-old man arrived at Phuket International Airport last Sunday and was met by a metered taxi tout, who explained that it costs 650 baht to go to Kamala.
“I said, ‘No, no. Have to use the meter,’ pointing to the sign on the booth. He said, ‘No, only use meter to Patong – company says Kamala is 650 baht,'” the man explained in an email to the Phuket Gazette. “After much discussion, I gave up and took the taxi.”
In the email, the reader included a copy of his receipt for 650 baht.
When informed of the case by the Gazette, V/Gov Chamroen said, “Please forward me the message and copy of the evidence. I will start investigating the matter immediately.”
“This is an important issue that can affect our tourism industry. I personally would like to apologize to the customer who was put into that situation by a bad taxi driver.”
If the driver is found to be in the wrong, V/Gov Chamroen said he would issue a warning. If a complaint about the driver arises again, more serious steps will be taken.
“He will be banned from servicing the airport,” V/Gov Chamroen said.
A staffer operating the call center phones for the metered taxi service company was less perturbed by the complaint.
“It was an agreement between the passenger and driver. Almost all passengers choose to take a fixed price instead of the metered price,” the operator told the Gazette.
“It depends on what the customers want. Our drivers will not threaten passengers.”
Jaturong Kaewkasi of the Phuket Land Transportation Office explained that his office was helpless when dealing directly with airport taxi drivers, who fall under the responsibility of Airports of Thailand (AoT).
“We can’t take any action against the driver,” said Mr Jaturong.
“The only way we can help is to raise the complaint in our next meeting.”
An AoT officer who declined to be named asked for the Australian man to file a formal complaint.
“Please have him send us a letter of complaint that details the incident. It will need to include the time and date that it happened and the license plate number of the driver. Additionally a copy of the man’s passport and a ticket voucher for the ride will need to be included,” the staffer said.
The officer also advised that the man file a complaint with the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) Organized Crime Center in Phuket.
The center is open and accepting complaints, though there are no DSI officers in Phuket right now due to the Bangkok protests, said Somboon Sarasit, head of the DSI Special Crime Unit 3.
— Saran Mitrarat
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