Gem scam story: Blue Dragon - February 17, 2007
2Bangkok.com actually received another story from another tourist who was in the Blue Dragon at the time as the person below was...
A reader reports: I have just returned from my 2nd trip to Bangkok in the past few months. I had returned with my partner to visit the parts we had not fitted in on our first stay. On the 6th February 2007 we had made our way by skytrain and boat to the Grand Palace. Approaching what I thought to be one of the entrances a young man in uniform stopped us and informed us that the Grand Palace was not yet open and would open at midday. It was about 10.00am and he said we would have time to visit a couple of other tourist sites and return later. Taking into account he was in uniform one would be lead to believe what he was saying. His English was spoken very well and he told us that he was a teacher and was on holiday so he worked at the Grand Palace part time. So we showed him our map and he told us to visit the Lucky Buddha, the Reclining Buddha and the Thai Export Factory as they had a once a year weekly sale ending that day. He waved over a tuk-tuk and showed the driver where we would like to go and negotiated 30 baht for the round trip. Now having a little experience in Thailand I knew that the drivers would get a voucher of some sort from the export centre so therefore knew the price for the tuk-tuk was cheap and understandable.
The tuk-tuk whom couldn’t speak great English took us to the reclining Buddha first then onto the Happy Buddha. At the Happy Buddha as we went back to the tuk-tuk the driver asked if we minded if he went to the toilet. Where he had parked his tuk-tuk there was a young man sitting in a rather modern 4 wheel drive. He had a young girl sitting in a stroller outside the drivers door. We started talking small chat, and he eventually asked us where we were going next. Telling him we were going to the Export Centre he told us that he had just been there that morning to buy something for himself and his wife. He said that it was the last day of a sale that they have for a week every year. The sale was for the Thai people and the general public, they were not normally open to the public, only the trade. He went on to say how he and his friends would buy during this sale and then take the goods overseas and sell for great profits to jewellery stores. He also said that you were only allowed to buy one piece per person so it was seen that it was being purchased for personal use and not for profit.
On arrival to the Blue Dragon Export Centre we were welcomed and shown around. With it coming up to Valentines day I thought it would be a great opportunity to buy my partner something nice and at a great price. I asked the sales assistant ‘Prayuth’ questions that verified what I had heard on the street. Are you normally open to the public? “no” was the answer. When does the sale end? “Today is the last day”. How many items am I allowed to purchase? “Only one each.” We were shown to the VIP section upstairs, eventually we picked out a nice sapphire bracelet for 139600baht. I tried to negotiate on the price but there was no negotiating as it was wholesale. Now with it being the last day of the sale, and unsure of what funds were available on the cards that I had on me at the time I asked if I could hold it with a deposit.
I made a deposit of 19600baht, we arranged that the bracelet would be delivered to my hotel on the 11 February 2007 being the morning we were departing and I could transfer funds to my account if necessary to pay the remaining balance. On the 8 February 2007 I decided to do some research on the internet just to find out how much sapphires were really worth as we had been around a few other shops on the 7th February 2007 to see if we had got a good deal. It was hard to really know as there was such a variance in the price of them and the shades of blue. On the internet I found a site that sold loose stones and it all seemed to add up for the mere fact that we had a piece of jewellery that was a finished item. I decided to look a little further into it and decided to do a google search on the Blue Dragon Export Centre. With it being an export company I thought they may have a web-page. Well this is when everything changed, the first thing I saw from the search was ‘Scam at Blue Dragon”. I opened up and read almost word for word what had happened to us, there my blood boiled.
I made my way by taxi back to the Blue Dragon on the 9th February with a print out of what I had found. On returning I asked to speak to the manager, no-one was wanting to take up that role. The sales assistant that sold us the bracelet was there and made as he was the manager. I asked to speak to him privately and was taken to the upstairs office. I shoed ‘Prayuth’ the printout and asked for a return of the deposit. How much would I like he asked. The whole lot was my reply. Sorry we cannot, as you have signed we charge 10% of any deposit taken because we have to pay vat and taxes as he had told me at point of sale. I said yes that was when I believed you had a legitimate business not a scam running here. I said if I wasn’t to get my full refund I would go to the tourist police (from reading the internet previously my thoughts were they were just as corrupt but I wanted to call his bluff) of which he stood up and said way you go. I exited the store, took a couple of steps and walked back in, I was going to take 90% of my refund while I could and sort the rest out later. We argued for a good 15 minutes me calling him every name under the sun and asking how he lay straight in bed and said we were fed lie after lie and his sale was everyday. His answer was its psychology “No it’s a %&^* lie” I said. He was doing it to support his children's education in Australia of which I then told him “I hope they are deported, shot or whatever and I wished he would rot in hell as well”. Now this guy could take a lot of verbal abuse but was I boiling. On my exit I warned everyone in the shop at the time that it was all a scam, I was going to clear the shop as I did. If I had the time and energy I would have sat at the front of the shop and told everyone to go but I now believe it would have cost me my life and with a country as corrupt as it is its not even worth the trip back again.
I am going to try and pursue a claim via my bank with the fact that I have not received any goods, that I was lied to, to make a transaction. I will keep you posted as to how that goes.