Scammed by a Rogue Phuket Familymart

For those new to FamilyMart they are a Japanese convenience store franchise chain popular throughout Asia. Last month we in fact spent two weeks travelling in Japan and we each day would start and finish at the local Familymart picking up snacks and whatnot. They’re convenient, and prices don’t change from one shop to the next. Similar to the more common 7/11. They are safe, reliable and honest, and the chances of being ripped off are next to none, until today when we arrive to Patong in Phuket. The phrase “Only in Thailand” comes to mind. So after check-in at the hotel we do the usual pick-up of snacks at the local FamilyMart and, too lazy to grab a basket, I do the shopping in two. I am the only person near the tills so I bring the first batch of snacks to the counter, then run quickly to grab beer and water from the fridge. When my back is turned I hear the tills beep again, twice, maybe 3 more times. Mine is the only till active. I look at the digits on the till when I get back and the last item scanned cost 25 Baht. Nothing that I bought cost 25 Baht. The total comes to 408 Baht. I calculate the actual price in my head and it is no more than 350 Baht. I ask the girl to start the scan again, but she refuses and asks her friend / coworker over to help. Her coworker looks it over and says the beer was charged twice. This doesn’t fit with the 25 Baht shown on the till, but I go along. So I ask her to start the scan over again, but she can’t. Instead she writes it up on a calculator. It was a similar price to what I expect, so I pay. Outside I recalculate everything but it is still wrong. To clear things up I return and ask for the receipt which they hadn’t given me. This is the only real evidence so they refuse and ignore me. I ask to speak to the manager, but they don’t understand… They continue to ignore me. In total there were three workers, none offer any assistance, and at least two of them are in cahoots on the scam as they were both stood behind looking at the till. I take out my camera snap a mugshot and leave.

Scammed by a Phuket Familymart | Scams in Thailand Scammed by a Phuket FamilymartScams in Thailand


Share if I’m in an ‘Accident’

This happened little more than two hours ago, and the reason I am posting this now is because I don’t feel safe. Sounds stupid right, but these parts of Thailand are renowned for mafias and mafia related scams. People often find themselves in ‘accidents’ or disappearing. Maybe I could tell the police? Ha 😀 The girls are probably just petty till thieves but who knows what lengths they might go to save there jobs, since they now know they’ve been rumbled. Note, I don’t think there is ‘a hit’ out on me but confrontation or threats can quickly escalate, and Patong is just not worth the risk. People die for the silliest of reasons in this country. I remember, not so long ago near my condo in Bangkok, a fella from the US was chopped up with a sword for arguing his taxi fare. Murdered over a few Baht. When it comes to losing a business, and maybe 3 or more jobs. This is a precaution more than anything. The beach area here is surprisingly small and I have to pass the FamilyMart en route to everything worth seeing. We have decided to leave Phuket tomorrow, and have booked flights out. Having come this far however, we do plan to spend at least one night on the beach and I’m posting this before I do. In many ways I regret photographing them, or even confronting them, but hundreds of tourists would likely pass through their doors each day and how many of them do you think get scammed. Anyway, my initial thoughts of the area aren’t great; it’s all overpriced, there’s a lot of hard sell tuk-tuk drivers, then there’s Indian fellas who keep trying to force feed me cheap suits “Alright Boss”… For now I’ll stick to my seaview balcony drinking beer and eating mama noodles (classy as always). At least the beaches are cleaner. (I am now back on the mainland and have forwarded the images and issue to the head offices of FamilyMart).

Scammed by a Phuket Familymart Scams in Thailand

  • Tim

    Really finding it difficult to read the mobile version of this site – very tiny text crowded into a narrow column. Could you fix?

  • kevinlukemay

    Given your outrage over such an apparently appalling incident, curious as to why you decided to take pictures of the alleged perpetrators and post them on the web, rather than take your complaint to the police and let proper legal due process take over?

    • As above “Maybe I could tell the police? Ha ” A quick example from this week, a foreign family losing their home etc here to corruption and mafias and after years of approaching the police, and death threats, they are now in Bangkok sat in the middle of the road in protest.
      http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/585145/cops-to-probe-b65m-phuket-asset-scam
      These entire areas are run by mafias from the taxis to the touts. Going to the police would likely add to my troubles.
      I took photos as a spare of the moment thing as no-one cared or would do anything but I know this isn’t a good idea as I was attacked before in Bangkok by a taxi driver for picturing his number plates. I mentioned to someone and I was told if I did similar here I’d get a lot worse.
      Anyway, I had planned on forwarding the images etc. to the Family Mart brand to let them know they have a store which has gone rogue, and I will do this once I am back to the mainland. It is a global company so it will be a bit like messaging the McDonalds complaint department, and the email could easily go overlooked. Therefore a quick post here should suffice until I do.
      Anyway, from your tone of this “apparently appalling incident” would you not agree? Is scamming tourists something we shouldn’t worry about, and just accept. I honestly feel the acceptance of corruption in Thailand is what is wrong with the country, whether it’s taxi mafias or slave boats, it all spans from the same dim outlook and turning a blind eye.

  • I sympathise with your situation because I am experiencing similar situations in my current trip in Thailand. People tried to scam me (the good ol’ Thai Factory scam, didn’t fall for it) and I’ve payed overpriced taxi rides and various items with no price tag where the vendor pulls a number out of thin air based on how foreign you look.

    I’ve avoided confrontation based on one nasty experience where the vendor got hostile very quickly when I questioned his honesty. What works best for me is as soon as I detect dishonesty or smell a scam just leave. Nobody will stop you if you are in a public space. When paying is inevitable and assumable (such as a taxi ride that I know the guy took as the long way round to the hotel) I take the hit, because trouble with someone I don’t know how he will react is not worth less money than half a pint of beer back at home.

    I don’t think it’s our job to change all of this. I think when you choose to go to a touristy area you are kind of signing a contract to be constantly bothered by vendors and paying for things to be overpriced. It’s how the economy of the area works, because for each traveler that sees all of this, there’s 20 that pay gladly because it’s still cheaper than back at home.

    I don’t think anyone can change anything at the Family-Mart-cashier level when the problem is at the mafia-controlling-entire-areas level.

    • I agree, but I was just shocked to find it at a FamilyMart. For me it’s like a McDs or a KFC. Consistently trustworthy. I’ve been to Phuket a handful of times but usually stay elsewhere e.g. Mai Khao in the North, the islands Yao Yai and Maprao. Even nearby Phuket Old Town is fine, but this was my first venturing to the tourist beaches and it was more to see how they have changed with the post coup clean up. To be fair the beaches have cleaned, but the scamming, and cheating appears to be deep rooted, to the absurdity, that it’s in the FamilyMarts. I’ve travelled to Thailand for 10 years, lived in Bangkok 3 years, own property here. I now live in rural Thailand. In this time I’ve never had much trouble at all. I use familymarts and 7/11s daily. Anyway, I’m back on the mainland and will be reporting the issue to the top offices of Family Mart about the rogue scamps of Patong. Will be removing the images as well and leave the rest to them 🙂

  • Chris Backe

    Hang on just a second here… Having lived in Thailand for two years and been all over the country, I wouldn’t be the first to point out the country’s convenience stores as one of the best things about the country. (Come to Europe and look for a beer on a Sunday when all the grocery stores have closed.)

    Your first mistake was turning your back on the cashier, or otherwise being distracted when matters of money are taking place. Seriously? And in Patong of all places? I don’t need more than half a second of distractedness to snatch a smartphone or wallet out of your hands, run out the door, and I’m gone. That’s 8,000-10,000 baht right there, just waiting to be cashed in..

    Your second mistake is assuming they’re competent enough to scam you. These folks make 300 baht minimum wage, most likely (that’s like $10 USD) – per day. Not per hour. Per. Day. You don’t get much for that wage. Even assuming they had malicious intent, if you were looking away long enough for them to scan something that was 25 baht (a candy bar, or one of the other things on the counter), you were neglecting things for waaaayyyy too long.

    Your third mistake? 25 baht? is like a dollar. Assuming they scanned something and you paid it, that’s on the books. I’m assuming the boss / manager tries to balance the books, and ensures anything under what’s expected comes from the employees.

    If you genuinely thought they were scamming you, you walk away. Go 100 meters to the next convenience store. They all sell the same stuff. Same same with the taxi drivers (I actually had pretty good luck with Bangkok taxi drivers, so long as I wasn’t A: going to Khaosan, and B: had a phone I was using.).

    • Yes to all the above, but I wouldn’t call them mistakes I would call them faith in humanity. The reason I turned my back is because I trust the FamilyMart brand. I do the same all the time at my local stores, and in my head I would always know how much I spent so it’s not a problem. Even if it’s 25 baht off I would know.

      I speak Thai as well so when I started counting the individual items out loud, in Thai, her face just drained and she called over her friend. I probably wouldn’t care if it were just the one employee trying to pinch a few pennies but because the second employee helps wangle her out of it meant there was more going on and the entire store was likely in cahoots.

      I think tills can be reset or cancelled to restart the scan again? There’s always going to be someone who decides they don’t want an item anymore, or just cancel altogether etc. So the till receipts don’t have to be exact in this way. That’s why they typed it up on a calculator on the side and left the till with the same price. Still confused by this.

      Taxis I’ve always been fine with. 10 plus years I’ve been travelling to Bangkok, lived there 3 years, owned property there 6. I find taxis only ever charge at tourist traps and at night clubs etc. so I rarely see it. The time I photographed the plates was when some jackass told me there’s an additional ‘holiday fee’ and he would tell me how much when I arrived. Completely bizarre. I of course bail and photograph his plates, then he stops and comes around to attack me when my wife screams for help. He does a runner.

  • Shu

    Happened to us 4 times in Patong, we always left our items there and just walked away, no nerves to talk to these shitheads! Mever happened to us in any other place in Thailand only in Patong!