On our first day in Bangkok, we literally just chill and rest, we arrived at 10 AM in the morning and went to Starbucks near our hostel and wait until we checked- in at 2PM. Then just walked around the places near our hostel and passed by “Talad NEON downtown” Night Market. My friend’s father was already tired, so from there, we decided to take a cab or tuktuk to go to Pratunam Mall, a mall where you can buy some cheap stuff in BKK, which was only about half kilometer from the place where we were.
We tried to get a cab but none stopped to pick us up, we then resorted to ask tuktuk drivers, some tuktuk drivers offered us 100 Baht, it was an expensive offer though, so we kept looking for a reasonable one. Being first timers in Bangkok, we were glad to finally found a driver who would take us to the mall for a very cheap price, from 50 Baht starting price it went down to 10 Baht. Before we even step on his tuktuk, we took pictures and the driver even want to take my friend’s DLSR so he can take our pictures, I told his dad not to give it to him as I have read a case where a driver initiate taking pictures of the tourist and then a snatcher took the camera, unknown to the tourists the driver and snatcher worked together to steal the cam. When we were all at the tuktuk, the driver took something on his compartment and showed us a small paper which has a phrase “FREE 10 Liter Gasoline” on it, he explained that because he gave us a cheap deal we might as well help him by simply going inside the shop which I thought was located inside Pratunam Mall, he said we can just go there, show that we are interested in the products and then stay for awhile and after that the lady at the shop will give us coupon for free gasoline, then we can hand him the coupon after. I was like, “Oh oh, this is not good.” But my friend wanted to help him, she has a good intention of helping the man to get the gasoline coupon, she even thought of giving him an extra 5 Baht for bringing us to the mall. However, he brought us to a jewelry store instead of a big mall. When we were inside, I saw a Thai sales lady, another lady which seemed to be a manager, a salesman talking to a man which I assumed as a tourist buying a ring. I told my friend and her father I have a bad feeling that we were in trouble. She seemed calmed and already knew what was happening too. So we just played our game, since we got scared that we might not be able to get out of the shop safely. So she tried to look at the jewelries, told her that we should get out already, she still gave the driver the benefit of the doubt that getting a coupon with free gasoline is not his way to scam us. The sales lady asked her to buy a pair of earrings with a big stone amounting to 20,000baht, she said they were on an 80 percent discount on that day, last day of their promo so the earrings will now cost 4,000 Baht only. I told my friend that those were fakes and buying it would be a big mistake. I am never a fan of jewelries so I won’t be interested to any of it. His father was telling us not to buy anything because we don’t have budget for it in our language of course, as it was not something we planned to buy he said. I noticed how upset he was seeing his daughter seemed to be interested in buying, but actually my friend and I were just waiting for the right time to do our exit. I asked the sales lady for the last price she can give my friend for the earrings and she said she can give it for 1000 Baht, and there I was like, oh well, scam, scam, scam! But my worry was how can we safely get out of that store and that alley, thinking that the driver was conniving with the store management. The three of us told the girl that we will think about it and just get back once we decided to get one, the sales lady started pressuring my friend to buy it since it was their last day to give the discount. But we decided to started walking out of the shop, but before we even reach the door out of it, the lady manager talked to the sales lady and the latter approached us and told us that they can give the gem away for only 500 Baht, wow! It was only 750 pesos or 21$ for a pair of earrings with big gem stones, what a great deal! Well, it is, that is only if it is genuine. So we said our big NO to the sales lady, but our eyes were on the door, so we quickly ran to the door and rode on the tuktuk. We acted like we didn’t know anything, we simply told the driver that we didn’t get a coupon, and then he suddenly didn’t speak a word, obviously upset he will not have any commission from the store for having no sale from us, hahaha! So, CONFIRMED, SCAM IT IS! We just let him drove for another 100 meter so we can get out of that alley fast and asked him to drop us, we told him that we already saw Pratunam Mall and we will just walk from there. It was kind of scary and stressful but I am still glad we will able to get out of it. I am glad that no hypnotism or anything made us buy those gems. Otherwise, our trip will be a total disaster!
Here are the lessons we have learned with that experience and what you can do to AVOID BEING A VICTIM of these kinds of scams:
- Don’t buy any gems in Bangkok, especially if it is a gem store where a tuktuk driver brought you at. If you are like us, who were able to be at the store already, just firmly say “NO.” Whatever they say just say “NO.”
- Don’t be too trusting and fall for the friendliness of the people, whether they are dressed smart, casual, or formal, just don’t. Though, outside BKK as per most travelers, people are able to show genuine goodness without planning to scam you.
- If you are offered prices that are ridiculously cheap in any services you are looking for, expect that the one who offered it is going to scam you.
- Run away from people who is telling you about gems on its promotion on the day you are there.
- Be careful, and focus on the purpose of your travel, and that is definitely not to buy any gems and be scammed.
But what can you do if you have been scammed already? This is going to be too unfortunate as all you can do is to file a case in the nearest police station where you are at and these may take a lot of your effort and may eat too much of your time. From what I have researched, some police are helpful but there are also some who are not as jewelry shop owners claimed that buyers buy the jewelries out of their free will, so most of the time these cases were ignored by police. However, again for you not to go to that extent, just please consider the tips I mentioned above.
Have a safe trip travelers!