The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Scam

damnoen saduak floating market

or how we got scammed in Thailand and ways to avoid it

I have vague memories of people being scammed at the Damnoen Saduak floating market in Bangkok but never really researched it. Thus, when our taxi driver offered to take us on a full day tour for just THB 1,200 (RM 120), I didn’t bargain and thought it was a pretty good deal.

boat tour

I didn’t want the extras, I just wanted to cram in two floating markets (Tha Kha and Damnoen Saduak) for the day. It takes about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the latter and there’s a reason the taxi driver gave a lot of excuses not to go to Tha Kha (it’s too small, you won’t like it, etc).

floating market

Damnoen Saduak floating market is basically a well known tourist trap. It’s what you see on the postcards and has lost it’s original meaning of being a floating market for locals but rather a scam to bring tourists there for the same trinkets and souvenirs you’ll find on the streets of Bangkok.

tha kha floating market

Tha Kha floating market is the one that locals go to.

scam floating market
Unhappy tourists who were conned before us

Anyway, the way the scam works is that taxi drivers offer you a really good price for a day’s tour (you can hire the cab to go anywhere for the day) and bring you to a pier where you’re forced to take a boat tour. Our driver kept insisting that there isn’t a way to go to the big Damnoen Saduak pier, which isn’t true as we found out.

salt farm

It took us an hour and you can see lots of salt flats where they farm salts on the way to Damnoen Saduak floating market. It’s quite interesting to see the locals harvest salt and sell it in bulk by the roadside.

damnoen saduak scam

We got shuttled to Shang 2 Pier. I later found out that there are heaps of “private piers” like this one – they arrange a commission with the cab drivers to bring tourists here. A woman immediately approached us as we pulled in and told us it’s THB 3,000 per person or THB 5,000 per boat for a 1 hour boat tour of Damnoen Saduak floating market.

That’s RM 500 for the boat!

floating market scam

I said no way and walked back to the taxi driver and told him to bring us straight to the Damnoen Saduak floating market pier. He kept insisting that there’s no roads to go there except by boat. His English was pretty bad but I told him I don’t want a boat tour and finally the woman (who followed us over) said she’ll do it for THB 2,000 (about RM 200) per person.

That’s a ridiculous price and not knowing if there’s actually a way to the pier of the Damnoen Saduak floating market, I finally bargained with the woman and got us a covered motorized boat for a 1 hour tour for THB 1,700 (RM 170) per boat.

private pier

I realized later that we could have gotten it for much cheaper had we bargained more but there’s no way out of this scam, the driver will just drive you to different “private piers” which are just fronts for scamming people into expensive boat tours.

boat vendors

The driver of the longboat to Damnoen Saduak floating market was nice though and even helped us take a photo (which we learned some other less scrupulous drivers will charge you for).

damnoen saduak us

Damnoen Saduak floating market is a tourist trap but it’s worth a visit for the experience if you don’t mind paying the over-inflated price. It’s like the Venice of Asia with the canals and waterways. The shops are right beside the canal – it’s now concrete after the tsunami and floods but still interesting to see shops where you literally have to row up to.

coconut sugar farm

There are also various boats selling food and a coconut sugar farm inside.

coconut sugar

I liked the coconut sugar – it’s exactly like those brown sweets from primary school except this is a large, hot wok and the taste straight from the paddle is incredibly sweet and nostalgic. They also offer a tour of the coconut factory but we didn’t go for that one.

It’s quite a nice experience sitting in a boat while traversing the waterways of Damnoen Saduak floating market but getting scammed into the boat tour took some of the fun out of it. You can get a (much) cheaper boat hire by getting to the Damnoen Saduak floating market pier itself. The pier bit in that last sentence is the most vital part – that’s where the regular boats depart.

floating market stalls

I hear it is near impossible to get a taxi to go to the pier itself since they have lucrative deals to scam tourists into the private piers for the commission (the lady consulted with our taxi driver on the THB 1,700 price before agreeing). There are also tours which scam you into the private piers so be careful of that.

damnoen saduak pier

My suggestion is to go to a floating market that the locals actually use e.g. Tha Kha floating market and take a boat to Damnoen Saduak floating market from there. I got quoted THB 200 an hour per boat for a tour (RM 20) departing from Tha Kha before bargaining.

floating markets

That’s a huge difference from THB 1,700 and closer to the real price. Tha Kha is more of a pier and not the postcard picture perfect floating market you think of but it’s a nice market where practically no one speaks English and meant more for locals. It’ll be hard to convince a taxi driver to go there though.

grilled bananas

Ours didn’t want to go to Tha Kha at all until much coercion and asked for THB 100 for lunch which I absolutely refused to give after the scam he pulled. I only gave it to him when he said it’ll come out of the THB 1,200 price we agreed upon (e.g. I’ll just pay THB 1,100) coz he didn’t have any money for lunch.

damnoen saduak

When it was time to go back, our taxi driver put the meter on so I thought he wanted to scam us again (it’s THB 2,000 from Damnoen Saduak floating market to Bangkok if you follow the meter) but I was quite hostile to him and paid just THB 1,100 and left.

damnoen saduak photo

The Damnoen Saduak floating market scam is pretty well documented. Be careful of the private piers and go straight to the Damnoen Saduak pier. If you want a more local experience, get a taxi that’ll bring you straight to Tha Kha and head to Damnoen Saduak floating market from there, which will cost just THB 200 (RM 20) per boat.

Fake Monster Beats by Dr Dre Tour at Low Yat Plaza

I just got scammed!

fake monster beats by dr dre tour

I bought a pair of fake beats by dr. dre headphones at Low Yat Plaza. I wasn’t familiar with the range and was amazed by the sound quality – the deep, rich bass and perfect pitch range literally floored me. It wowed me enough to lust after the in-ear noise-canceling earbuds.

Here is how the scam works:

how to tell fake beats by dr dre

  • The sales girl offers you a pair of demo headphones and plugs it into an iPod. I think this is the ONLY real unit.
  • The fake Monster beats by dr. dre Tour high resolution headphones are sealed in boxes and stacked nicely at the counter.
  • She lets you listen to the music and marvel to yourself at how awesome the sound quality was for just RM 60.
  • You purchase the earbuds, patting yourself on the back for your bargaining skills and the amazing deal you just got.

fake monster packaging

I only realize I’ve been had when ShaolinTiger told me about this website which details the (apparently rampant) fake Monster beats by dr. dre tour going around. Mine was definitely a counterfeit one – it shows all the hallmarks of the fake version and the price was too good to be true. I later found out that the real ones retail at RM 850 while I got mine at RM 60.

Monster Beats by Dr Dre Tour

fake beats by dr dre low yat

I wrote this BEFORE I knew it was a fake pair of headphones. I was gushing about it and typed this at rapid staccato excited mode in 30 minutes. It just goes to show how stupid I am. -_-

—————————————————————————————————

I was walking around Low Yat, intending to get a pair of headphones to replace my busted stock Apple ones. I noticed one of the smaller shops displaying a line of headphones and ear-buds made (endorsed? collaborated?) by Dr Dre.

I stopped and took a look at the boxes. They came in several variants – the biggest of which are limited edition full earmuff studio headphones with Lamborghini/Ferrari partnerships. I asked about the price – the high end limited edition stuff was RM 599.

Now this was nothing more than a curiosity on my part, just looking around ya know…until I saw the beats by dr dre Tour range. It’s a noise-canceling earbud headphone – the type you jam into your entire ear so the drivers inside will direct the sound right into your ear canal instead of dissipating it.

I like the design and the earphones look pretty nifty too – it’s black and red, two of my favorite colors. However, they were going for RM 90 – I finally bargained down the price to RM 85 at which point she woefully agreed, saying that she’ll only get a RM 10 profit.

I said I’ll come back but purchasing the earbuds was just a possibility in my mind at that time. An option, if you will.

I wanted to look around and as I took the escalators up, I was accosted by a particularly enthusiastic sales person. She was selling the same range of products. I asked how much the Monster beats by dr dre Tour was (I couldn’t afford the RM 599 studio headphones) and she said RM 75.

Now that’s much cheaper than the price quoted by the person downstairs but in the spirit of bargaining (see woeful RM 10 profit feigned reluctance above) I said that I was quoted a cheaper price at the shop downstairs. I creatively mentioned RM 70 instead of RM 75.

The passionate sales girl immediately said she can match the offer and sell it for RM 70. She pulled out an iPod and insisted on giving me a demo. Well, you know, these things go RIGHT INTO your ear so earwax and stuff like that can stick on it, but I’m not particular so I shrugged and donned the buds.

She played the song Like a G6 and I listened to it…in growing amazement. I was in music nirvana. I don’t like the song but damn was that a fine rendering of sound. I could hear ranges I never could with the stock headphones that came with my iPad 2 and it was LOUD!

I think I couldn’t keep the ecstasy off my face and the sales girl, sensing a potential customer, immediately launched into a play list that shows off the bass reproduction of the earbuds.

Jesus Doggystyle Mary!

I have never heard music with such clarity since my AUD 300 purchase of a rather expensive studio headphones back when I was in university. The design of the earbuds is what makes it so good – it’s noise-canceling coz when you jam it into your ears, it fills up all the empty space around it.

I could hardly hear the crowd and when I scratched myself, it didn’t sound like it normally would – the fingernail against fabric noise sounded distant…like you were on a heavy dose of opiates and was about to nod off. I don’t even know why I used this analogy since 97.3% of you won’t be able to relate but that’s how it sounds like. smirk

I was hooked. I WANTED the headphones. I would lust for it as a lover pines for his unrequited love until I bought it.

fake monster beats by dr dre-tour-box

The girl let me have her iPod and listen to it while she rummaged around and opened the RM 599 limited edition studio headphones. She insisted that I listen to it. It was good, I would buy it if I had the cash but it’s not a lot different from the Tour version…at least not enough to justify the huge price gap.

She said she’ll let me have the studio headphones for RM 450 but I was interested in the more affordable earbuds. I said I’ll consider it if she can sell it to me for RM 65 and after a bit of hemming and hawwing she said okay. I then said I’ll buy it right off her now if she’ll give it to me for RM 60.

I was looking at the packaging while talking to her and I saw that these are MONSTER headphones! Not the recruitment company, the one that sells professional grade high quality A/V cables! Dr. Dre apparently has a collaboration with them or something, giving us this very cool looking red and black earphones.

Heh. I haven’t bargained in a long time and it’s good to know that I still can push down prices. She agreed, but much more reluctantly this time. I don’t know how much the cost price is, but I’m guessing RM 60 is towards the low-profit end of it.

I just did it for shits and giggles, RM 5 is less than what you’ll pay for parking but it’s fun to do.

However, she did mention that she will sell it for RM 50 apiece if I buy 3 or more. Considering how I treat my headphones, that would be a rather excellent idea, but I still had to buy an external HDD so I just bought that one.

fake beats by dr dre low yat plaza

It was the demo that got me – listening to the quality and sheer power of the driver in such a small earbud design blew me away. Literally.

The other good thing I noticed is that the wires won’t tangle coz it’s flat like linguine – that makes it harder to snag and tangle around.

It’s a really good buy for RM 60. I really am loving it – at this price, it’s unbeatable. I also tried another popular mainstream consumer electronics brand’s noise-canceling earbuds for RM 110 (cheapest price) and it doesn’t even come close to beats by dr dre tour’s quality.

Highly recommended.

I just wrote over a thousand words about a pair of earbud headphones. I guess that says something.

—————————————————————————————————

I wish I had said that I’ll just take the demo pair, no need to trouble yourself in getting a new one for me. I’ll love to see the sales girl’s reaction and what excuses she’ll come up with. Heh!

fake beats by dr dre

Beware of fake Monster beats by dr. dre Tour high resolution headphones in Low Yat Plaza!

fake monster beats by dr dre

I didn’t get a receipt for the purchase, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. No wonder the staff all ducked when I took a photo of the headphones on display. It’s amazing marketing though – get a real pair to wow the potential customer and sell them the fake ones…or maybe I’m just naive. :x

The two Chinese girl scam

girls_pose.jpg
Zhao Shu Juen and Zhang Jie.

I don’t actually know if this is a scam, but I have a strong
suspicion it is. Anyway, I was walking to Suria KLCC after work when I
was approached by two females (photo above). I was taking photos of the
Deepavali decorations with my digicam strapped around me and I heard
them hailing me from across the street. I did not heed them as I was
trying to get a steady shot and I was standing in traffic, which is
enough multitasking for me.

Well, they came over to my side of the road and accosted me. One of
them asked if I was Malaysian, and I said yes, but I’m not from KL, I
just work here. The other one then asked if she could use my cell phone
because they just arrived in KL from China today and they somehow
didn’t bring any cash and their ATM card doesn’t work, so they’re stuck
here. They needed to use my cell phone to call their dad, who is coming
tomorrow and tell him to bring cash instead coz they said China’s ATM
cards doesn’t work here.

Anyway, I was happy to help (even though my cell phone credit is
rather low) so I let them call Beijing on the condition that they pose
for a photograph. I take a lot of street shots for my personal stock
photo collection, plus I thought this would make a good post so I
wanted to get pictures to go with it. They agreed and I let them use my
cell phone. They called a number which went 00865525xxxx (last four
digits crossed out for their privacy).

girls_phone_call.jpg
Zhang Jie phones home.

That really is a phone number from the People’s Republic of China, I
checked the country code. Anyway, after talking on the phone for a
while, she passed the phone to me and said her mom wanted to talk to
me. Her mom’s Beijing accent was really strong, I couldn’t catch half
of the words she said, but I get the gist of it – she was thanking me
for allowing her daughter to use the phone, so I said no problem. My
Digi credit went from RM 25.35 to RM 2.69 though…

Anyway, they told me that they’re medical school students from
Beijing and just arrived today without any cash. “Where are you going
to sleep then?”, I asked altruistically. “I was about to get to
that…”, one of the girls replied. “I’m sorry, but could you do us a
favor? Can you please lend us some money for a hotel tonight?”

girls_noflash.jpg
The two Beijing girls, photo taken without flash.

So there I was…considering if they’re scamming me or they really
are stuck in KL without money. Now, I wouldn’t mind helping out if the
situation was really what they said it was…but I only have about RM
20 in my wallet and I told them so. “Oh, we’ll just take whatever you
have…give me your number and I’ll call you tomorrow once my dad gets
here and I’ll pay you back okay? I’ll buy you lunch too.”, said one of
the girls.

“How are you going to get a hotel room for just RM 20???”, I asked.
The girls mumbled something which I couldn’t catch and then asked if I
could withdraw some money from an ATM. The audacity….I said no,
because the situation is starting to sound rather dodgy. I told them to
go to the police station nearby and they would direct them to the
Chinese embassy for help. “Oh, then it’s alright, we’ll just take the
RM 20.”, they said.

Here is where the story gets slightly more interesting. They kept on
repeating the story about coming to KL and having no money and there
were slight discrepancies in every iteration. It all sounded rather
scam like to me, but I gave them the benefit of doubt, just in case the
poor girls were telling the truth. I am quite unconvinced though due to
the lack of luggage on their behalf and the topic of how they got to
Suria KLCC from KLIA was quickly changed. One of the girls produced a
notebook (complete with a “Terima Kasih – RM 3.60″ sticker on the
front) and asked me for my number so they could pay me back tomorrow.

names.jpg

I don’t read Chinese (but I speak it fluently, thank you very much) so here’s the translation from a friend:
Zhao Shu Juen
shu means elegant , related to a woman, also means ‘woman’,
juen = something like ‘good woman’

Zhang Jie
jie means clean
Zhao and Zhang are family names.

Terima Kasih indeed…I did write down my cell phone number to humor
them, plus I wanted them to write their names in it too. However, I did
not give them any money, because even if the price tag accidentally
left a ‘B’ out and it was actually RMB (The People’s Currency), I doubt
that goods in China would have a “Terima Kasih” in red above. I did not
point this out to them though, since I was still waiting for them to
write their names. Heh.

You’ll never guess what they asked next.

“Can we borrow your camera for a day and return it to you tomorrow?”

Right…

No.

“Can we call you tomorrow and you borrow us the camera for the day then?”

I didn’t even find the need to continue the conversation. I told
them to go to the police if they really need help, they would direct
them to the embassy and left.

They did not call me today. :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...