A reader reports: Hi, I just wanted to share my gem scam story with people. I hope it will be able to prevent some tourists from being scammed like I did.
I am from Montreal, Canada and my boyfriend went to Singapore in early August for a student exchange. In late August, I went to visit him and we decided to fly to Bangkok to visit. The second day we were there, we wanted to visit some specific places and took a boat on the river from our hotel to the Tewet stop. There, a tuk-tuk came to offer us his services, but we wanted to walk so we said no. We continued walking and he kept following us decreasing and decreasing the price. He offered to take us to all tourists places in the morning for around $1US.
He said it was a special day because the government was giving free gas vouchers today only and that this was why he could give us such a low price. So we decided to accept and asked him to go to a specific place on the map. He then said the place was only opening at noon today because it was a Thai holiday. He offered to take us to a few tourist places that opened earlier in the day and then that he would take us to our place at noon when it would open (we later realized our place was opened at 9am as we thought!). The first place he took us was to two different temples. Then, we asked him to bring us to somewhere to eat and we did. Then, he brought to a third and last temple.
There we were looking at it and discussing in French (our first language). One man interrupted our discussion and started saying that he speaks French too and he asked us where we were from. Then, he started sharing with us info about his trip and how he liked it and how he comes here every year for its annual vacation. He then said he always comes in late August because it is at that time that one of the big jewelry shop has a sale for tourists. He said to us the shop was usually opened only for businessman but that during one week per year, they opened for tourists. He also said he always had great deals. Wanted to buy a jewelry in the first place, we then decided to go have a look and we finally bought one ring and a pair of earrings. We did not think it could be a scam because there were a lot of people in the shop and the shop just looked professional...
The following day, we headed back to Singapore and a couple of days after that I went back to Canada with the jewelry and my boyfriend continued studied in Singapore. Two weeks after that, my boyfriend called me because he found your website on the internet. I gave the jewelry to his parents which were going to visit him 3 weeks after and they brought back the jewelry to Singapore. At the end of the semester when he finished university, my boyfriend traveled around before coming back and made a stop in Bangkok with his friends. They wanted to visit a bit and at the end of the day they would go to get reimbursed.
The minute they left their hotel, a tuk-tuk went to them and he asked them if it was their first time in Thailand. They acted as if it was and the guy started the same story as three months before. They negotiated the price for about $1CAN because they said they were interested in buying jewelry at Blue Dragon shop (in fact, they wanted to exchange the jewelry) so the tuk tuk took them all around town for quite a low price and at the end he brought them to the Blue Dragon shop.
They were brought into the manager's office and we could only get 70% of the purchase price. When the tuk-tuk heard they were in fact exchanging the jewelry, he had the guts to ask them why they had lied to him all day. What do you want to say to that! Oh well, I know revenge is never the right way to solve problems, but this one tuk-tuk now knows how it feels to get lied to... even if those people will always continue scamming tourists all day long. It is part of their daily life.
When I think about it now, I feel I could have been more cautious buying those jewelry, but I am almost glad I experienced that at 20 years old and only for a $300 CAN loss in total (Purchase price - 70% refund) because I know I'll be more cautious in my future trips and I now feel like I know how to travel and this is due to all those small scams I experienced traveling in Asia. The lesson I took back: read about all the scams happening in the country BEFORE traveling there and about others' experiences to learn from those.
Anyway, just wanted to share my story with you.