Thailand travel guide & tips on the infamous jet ski scam, how does it work? How to protect yourself and avoid it from happening to you.
What happens if you refuse to pay and decide to go to the police or court? How long will that court process take and why that might not be a good idea.
Should you even bother going to the police and go to court, or is there someone else to file your complaint to?
And because you or you see someone having to pay for a jet ski to be repaired. Does it mean an actual scam happened?
I’ll talk about all of that in this article.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay For The Damages You Caused
If you don’t pay for the damages that you caused or negotiate to lower the cost to something you can afford or fair, and you sign a rental agreement, then you could be in jail,
If you damage something, they need to pay for the repair.
That’s why you need to stay calm and negotiate the price down.
If you refuse to pay or negotiate down the price to what you can afford or to something you think it’s fair. You might think the only way is to go to court, but I never heard of this happened before in this kind of situation with jet skis. Because you’re at fault and you signed a rental agreement.
Also, you don’t want to go all the way to Thai court because there’s a very good chance the authority will seize your passport because they don’t want you to leave the country with a pending trial.
Usually, people who damage something pay for the repair and get it done because if they don’t, they get into more trouble, like going to jail, getting their passport seized.
If you are at fault, the best thing for you to do is to negotiate down the price that you think it’s fair.
Because in other parts of the world, you would have to pay money for the deposit and if you break anything, you pay. Why should you not pay in Thailand?
What If It Was A Real Scam?
If you didn’t damage or hit anything when using the jet ski or a motorbike or scooter, and the shop owner accuses you of the damages wanting money for the repair.What Do You Do? Should You Call The Thai Police?
I wouldn’t go to the Thai police. I would call the Tourist Police, they are different from the regular Thai police. Tourist police can help you translate and calm things down. They might even have experience with this before but don’t expect the Tourist Police to help you not to pay anything. They could at least negotiate the price down for you, but it is a scam. What do you do?
If this was a real scam, you didn’t damage the jet ski, with the overpriced amount of money they are trying to claim from you.
I would ask the Tourist Police how to file a formal complaint with the Thai Ministry of Tourism and then file a complaint with your Embassy. I won’t go to the regular local Thai police.
However, if you don’t have evidence that you didn’t cause any damages, I don’t know how the Thai Ministry of Tourism can help you. Nevertheless, if there are enough complaints about a particular vendor. The Thai authority will have to investigate.
So with that, let me tell you how to get evidence and how to avoid this scam altogether.
4 Ways To Avoid The Jet Ski Scam or Motorbike Rental Scam
- Don’t rent a jet ski in Thailand.
This might be hard to do with motorbikes and scooters, but I’ll talk about that later on how to avoid this renting motorbikes or scooters scam in a minute.
- Use your smartphone or a camera.
Before you ride off your jet ski or motorbike, or scooter, take out your phone and start recording. It doesn’t have to be long, 30 seconds or 1 min video is fine. While you’re recording, point out any dents, scratches or damages you see and have the staff acknowledge them in the video. If you go to a good rental shop, they will have all of the dents or minor scratches pointed out on the rental contract. If they are not pointed out on the contract, ask them to include it or point them out when you are recording.
When you return the bike or jet ski, if there are any new dents, new scratches or damages, it means you cause it. If the dents or scratches were already pointed out on your phone or in the rental contract. Then you are not responsible for them when you return to the shop since the damages were already there before you came to rent.
- Rent older jet skis, motorbikes or scooters.
This is something I did a few years ago when I was living in Hua Hin, while I was starting to learn to ride a scooter. I rented older scooters, over 40,000 km.
Older vehicles are not expensive and the owners seem to be more forgiven with small dents or scratches. Since you’re renting an older bike that might be worth for few hundred dollars vs newer bikes or jet skis that are worth several thousands of dollars.
Whenever I rent out these older scooters, I don’t record them on my phone or camera, but if you’re new to the country, you might want to record it until you get a sense of how things work. Also, this jet skis scam didn’t happen as much today as compared to about 10 years ago, but the scam can still happen. Although, I never had this scam happened to me before, and I rented at least 2 dozen scooters from Hua Hin to Chiang Mai.
- Ask the locals.
Ask the locals about the best rental business before renting anything, as they know how things work here.
Since I’m a local, I would tell you to go for rental services with large fleets of vehicles, as they are serious businesses, rather than individuals with 1 or 2 vehicles on offer. If you’re renting jet skis, the trick is not to collide with each other or to go near another jet ski or boat and give these guys a chance to pull this on you!!!
If you want to learn more from a local and someone who has been in Thailand for over 40 years. Check out my ebook, 36 most common scams in Thailand and how to avoid them or how to avoid misunderstanding.