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Phuket Governor Nisit Jamsongwong has ordered a jet-ski rental company in Bangtao to be shut down after employees demanded a Chinese tourist pay exorbitant repair fees totalling 200,000 baht following a collision between two of the craft when the tourist rented them out with family members.
The victim, Zhang Cheng, rented four jet-skis on Saturday (February 7) from the Yotharak Company in front of the Dusit Thani Hotel, paying B9,600 for all four of them. However, two of the jet-skis collided within five minutes of being rented out.
The jet-ski oprators immediately demanded that Zhang Cheng pay B200,000 to cover the cost of the damage to the jet-skis, and threatened to not allow him to leave the country until he paid up.
Panicked, Mr Zhang immediately went to withdraw the cash from an ATM. After several withdrawals, and some negotiations, Mr Zhang was able to negotiate the compensation demand down to B99,000.
Then, after realizing that the jet-skis were insured and that he had shelled out much more than the actual repair costs, Mr Zhang filed a complaint at Damrongtham Centre on Monday (February 9), where he was accompanied by former president of the Phuket Jet-ski Association, Anuson Saley.
Mr Anusorn advised Mr Zhang that as the cost of the repairs would be covered by the insurance, any compensation paid to the jet ski operator should be only for loss of income while the jet skis are repaired; a charge that is usually no more than B3,000 per day, and for no more than three days, meaning Mr Zhang should only have been charged a total of B15,000 at the most.
Mr Anusorn said the jet-ski operator’s demands for B200,000 were absurd and were against the Jetski Association act.
Armed with rental documents and ATM withdrawal statements, as well as photographs of the damaged jet-skis and a police report, Mr Zhang was able to persuade Damrongtham officials that he had cause for compaint and wanted the jet-ski rental company to repay the money he had already handed over.
Acting as an intermediary, Damrongtham official Sompong Panthong, met with the jet-ski company owner, Mr Yotharak, and managed to hammer out an agreememnt in which the jet-ski company would return B45,000 to Zhang.
Mr Yotharak said he had charged Mr Zhang because the insurance policy on the jet-skis had expired when the collision occured.
The rip-off victims accepted the offer and were relieved to get at least some of their money back just before leaving the country that afternoon.
However, when Governor Nisit heard about the debacle, he ordered the Marine Office to revoke the jetski operator’s licence.
The Phuket News has since learnt from Chief of Phuket Marine Office, Phuripat Teerakulpisut that the Yotharak Company has had its licence revoked for one month and was fined B10,000. The refund money has also been returned to a respresenataive of Mr Zhang who was still staying on Phuket.