Measure Twice, Cut Once
I’ve been doing a lot of internet research for my upcoming trip to SEA and I’ve noticed a fairly common theme on this site and others. It’s working girls, taxi drivers, street vendors, etc, asking for absurd amounts of money for their
wares and/or services. It seems that outrageous pricing is running rampant throughout the world, not just SEA.
So what the hell is going on, what’s with all the pricing shenanigans that I’m reading about on the internet? Who is at fault? After pondering these questions for awhile, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s, in fact, our own damn fault! Why is it our fault, you may ask? It’s our fault because, at least in my opinion, it seems that many travelers and/or mongers are not taking the time to get on the internet and do a little research on their destination of choice and arrive unprepared for what may happen. As I surf the web, getting ready for my trip, all too often do I come across travelogues that make my jaw drop. I read about travelers getting charged a flat rate of 1000+ baht for a cab ride from Swampy to Bangkok, guys crowing about how they only paid $50usd for short time with a lady in Phnom Penh (normal ST is $20 by the way), the list can go on and on.
What makes me cringe is that these folks don’t even know they’ve been ripped off! How many stories have you read about tourists falling for the “gem scam”, or the “Palace is closed today” scam while in Bangkok?
There is so much information available on the internet. Google “scams in Bangkok” and you’ll see what I mean. I find it unbelievable that people are still falling for all this crap. Once a taxi driver in BKK has been able
to get a flat rate for a fare rather than using the meter or the working girl in PP has gotten $50 rather than the usual $20 for ST, they are going to try and do it again and again. It’s human nature. So yes, it is our fault for being unprepared
and thereby letting this stuff happen.
I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, and I would guess that a majority of the readership here is well aware of the scams, correct pricing, etc, but these unprepared bumpkins are having an effect on our lives and pursuits. What do you think is going to happen if you run into that young lady who got paid $50 ST in PP (or her working girl friends) or that flat rate cabbie in BKK? Yup, the working girl is going to ask for $50 ST, as a new price point has been previously set and it’s going to take a lot of tough negotiation to get the price down to $20 (what it should be) if at all. I’m sure that many of you can envision the scene in the taxi as “Flat Rate Somchai” tells you it is 1000 baht fare and you pay the tolls from Swampy to Bangkok.
I think the most unprepared traveler is the would-be whoremonger who has heard wild stories of Thailand, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Columbia, or wherever. This guys balls are so blue that all he can think about is getting laid. All he does is book a flight
and a hotel and off he goes into the wild blue yonder with no idea of the prices of anything else. Once he arrives, all he can see are the beautiful and willing ladies, and since he hasn’t done any research, and maybe he “has the
money” (plus he paid a hooker in Vegas $500 for one hour, so $100 for a Costa Rican Tica for an hour is a bargain, which it’s not), he ends up overpaying for everything and inflating prices for the rest of us. The submission “Cambodia:
My Vacation Story” (10/7/2009) by Jim. Force is a classic example of the unprepared monger.
So what does this have to do with you and I, the generally savvy traveler, the ones who know about the scams, the ones who know that the taxi should be using the meter, the ones that know that ST in PP should be $20, the ones who rarely get taken advantage of, although I’m sure we have all been ripped off once in awhile, we know what’s up, don’t we? Well, as I’ve said before, we are indirectly affected by the unprepared masses out there and I don’t think we are doing enough to help educate them. We are the ones who are telling others about the exotic places and sometimes about the exotic women we have experienced, but very often it seems we are not passing on the details of our adventures. I think we need to be more proactive about passing on information to others and also encouraging them to take some time to do some research on the internet before skying off to wherever. I really enjoy reading about Hans Meier’s travels and I also appreciate that he often lets us know the costs of rentals, tours, etc. I feel that if we all took a little time and became a little more Hans-like, that we would enhance the travels of others and perhaps save ourselves some money and aggravation in the long run.
Some people are ignorant about what the going rate may be which is one thing. What I find curious is that there are others who actually crow about paying a lot. It may be noble to offer someone more than they expect, but it doesn't make you a better person, as some seem to think. I'd love to see these same guys pay for a burger, Coke and fries with a $50 note and not bother waiting for the change.
I've always believed in fair value, where both the service provider and the customer are happy with the price. That is completely different from overpaying.
Unfortunately, there are some places in Thailand where prices have got out of control. The classic example is the tuktuks in Phuket which gouge passengers although with that said, what's happening down there is not necessarily due to overpaying but other more complicated issues.
Price gouging isn't doing Thailand any good. Many people choose to visit Thailand because it's supposedly cheap. Some things may still be cheap but not everything. There is an ever increasing list of things which are more expensive in Thailand than they are in the West.