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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park

Tim Newton

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How to be charged 2,600 baht for having a flat battery in the Jungceylon car park | The Thaiger
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A rant…

Started off with trying to exit the Jungceylon carpark in Patong, Phuket, late on a Sunday night. After watching a film in their tawdry cinemas, I was assured by ticket sales staff that I should present my ticket stub with the car park card for free exit.

Getting to the exit gate and I was told I had to go to an ‘elevator’ to get my ticket stamped. As there were already three other cars behind me (it was around 9.30pm at this stage), it caused quite a kerfuffle and tempers (mine included) were starting to fray.

The poor woman at the exit booth (whose key work skill must be ‘patience’), kept yelling ‘elevator, elevator’, doing little to inform us what we were actually meant to do. (I wanted to leave a car park, not go on an elevator?!?).

Anyway, minor ‘misunderstanding’ sorted out soon enough, and returned to my car to exit the car park (about 10 minutes later).

A Russian man had had his own adventures with the Jungceylon car park the night before. Firstly he was stuck there on the Saturday night with a flat battery in his white sedan. As it was very late, and wanting to get home, he left the car in the space and took a taxi.

As I was sorting out my own car park ‘misunderstanding’, other car park staff assisted him with his flat battery by jump starting his car. The assisting staff were given a gratuity, I don’t know how much.

But on reaching the exit gate he was told he had to pay 1,800 baht. (Presumably for around 24 hours of car parking).

With his fist full of receipts, around 3,300 baht worth, he was also told ‘elevator, elevator’. He got out of his car, there were another three cars backed up behind him at this stage, and went to find the ‘elevator’. Upon returning he was now told he had to pay 2,600 baht! How the amount had magically inflated to 2,600 baht remains a mystery but the cark park ‘gatekeeper’ was not to be messed with.

By this stage about eight young Thai gentlemen, with name tags, keys hanging from their belts and hand-held radios, had turned up to ‘assist’ in addressing my complaints and ensuring that the Russian man was not able to leave the car park before paying the 2,600 baht. The only common language among the Russians and the Thais in the situation was English and it was not going well.

Google Translate was getting a fine workout but wasn’t really helping.

During the extended ‘negotiations’ the cars behind were detoured around and allowed free exit.

Given the man’s travails in having a flat battery, having to come back to the steamy car park late on a Sunday night, the cars piling up behind him and the loss of face for just about everyone at this stage, the ‘smart’, good PR thing to do would have been to thank him for spending 3,300 baht at their expensive shopping centre, lifted the boom gate and waved him on his way.

But no, these young Thai car park staff wanted their pound of flesh and there was no way in the world that barrier was going to be lifted until the man had paid every baht he ‘owed’. Three police turned up to try and sort things out but all departed in exasperation, knowing the car park staff were being pig-headed but unable to intervene because they would have caused their fellow Thais a loss of face.

At this stage the Thai car park staff were already starting to utter things under their breath and spitting out ‘farang’ in their deliberations.

During the entire two hour drama many other cars had the same issue of not understanding that they needed to report to the bottom of one of the ‘elevators’ to have their receipts stamped. There didn’t appear to be any signage or understanding of the procedure (until, of course, you go through this rather drawn out lesson in Jungceylon car park procedure). There was a sign outside the elusive ‘elevator’ but given there are seven other exits from the car park you’re unlikely to see them.

Apart from Jungceylon losing the patronage of at least two, or more, customers over their overly-officious and unprofessional behaviour, the system will surely remain unfixed waiting for the next stupid ‘farang’ to stroll innocently into the underground farrago.

The only bright light in the dingy car park fiasco was the pleasant young gentlemen sitting at the ‘elevator’ with his stamps and gracious smile, wearing full eye make up and blissfully unaware of the surly car park Nazis. He profusely apologised but I am fairly sure he was none-the-wiser about my lengthy explanation of the situation.

Give the man a pay rise!

For Jungceylon, I would urge better signage, in a few languages (it IS a tourist town), to inform us about their rather opaque car park procedures.

I did ask for a statement to include in this story from some of the ‘people with hand radios’ or a comment from the Manager. But there was none forthcoming. Our forum remains wide open for a response from management.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

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Interview with Bill Barnett from c9Hotelworks. Phuket has now been hit with a 3rd major crisis, each one more profound than the long-term effects from the 2004 tsunami. Now the island has new restrictions imposed on arrivals on the southern island, imposed by the Phuket Provincial Authority.

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Transport

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

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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