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Army hunts down Phuket taxi driver for refusing airport tourist passenger

PHUKET: Soldiers in Phuket have hunted down and arrested a taxi driver who has now been fined B1,000 for refusing to take a passenger from Phuket International Airport after a video of a Thai tourist’s conversation with the driver over taxi fares charged on the island started going viral online

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Wednesday 7 December 2016, 02:09PM

Police check a metered taxi near Phuket International Airport. Photo: The Phuket News / file

Police check a metered taxi near Phuket International Airport. Photo: The Phuket News / file

The driver has been identified as Peecha Chodang, 40, said Gen Akom Pongprom, Commander of the Royal Thai Army 41st Military Circle, which has a headquarters in Phuket.

The video shows a conversation the female Thai tourist has with Mr Peecha about the fares charged by taxis in Phuket while the driver starts his journey to Kata, where the woman was to be taken.

However, Mr Peecha becomes irate with the tourist after she starts asking why the rates are so high and why he charges “about B700” to be taken to Kata when other drivers at the airport quoted her B1,000.

The woman also asked about the fast turnover charge rate of the meter, to which Mr Preecha explained that the meter started at a B50 surcharge and that the fare includes the standard fee drivers must pay Airports of Thailand (AoT), which operates Phuket International Airport, for the privilege of picking up passengers at the terminal.

Angered by the constant questioning, Mr Preecha turned the taxi around and returned her to the airport for her to take another taxi to Kata.

“After the clip was uploaded on many social media websites, many people posted comments criticizing the driver, so I coordinated with Phuket Tourist Police and Sakoo Police officers at the airport to track down the driver,” Gen Akom said.

Mr Preecha has since confirmed he was the driver in the video, he added.

New Paths Retreat

“The authorities have fined him B1,000 for refusing to take a passenger, and they will check his meter to make sure it is not rigged to overcharge,” Gen Akom Pongprom said.

Gen Akom added that officers at Phuket Airport will begin checking all metered taxis to make sure they charge at the government-set rates.

Navy officers warned taxi drivers earlier this year that overcharging passengers or refusing to take a passenger would result in a B1,000 fine. (See story here.)

Meanwhile, taxi fares in Phuket as set by the government are the highest in the country. (See rates here.)

A viral clip earlier this year by Thai internet celebrity Jack Brown failed to result in any reduction in the rates charged by taxis or tuk-tuks in Phuket. (See story here.)

Passengers who believe they have been overcharged by their driver can lodge a complaint by calling the transport complaint hotline Tel: 1584.



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Andy | 10 December 2016 - 07:48:51

Maybe I have been lucky but I have used taxis from Phuket airport to Cherng Talay many times and never had a problem - always on the meter, courteous service and well driven.
However, a fine of  likely less than the attempted scam (if indeed there was one) will not deter the scammer. 

marcher | 08 December 2016 - 19:14:45

Timothy. Unfortunately I could not find any video to watch, but the article seemed to infer that she had agreed a B7oo charge. Also seemed odd to argue about a B700 charge if others were charging B1000. Some  taxis are good. One from the airport had a high meter charge due to heavy traffic and reduced the amount by B200. Another, not so good, kept my mobile phone

Timothy | 08 December 2016 - 09:53:19

marcher, you should really watch the video before you make a comment. If you had bothered, you would learn that the lady had the taxi use the meter. She was told that the meter price would be 700 baht. She obviously did not really believe what she was being told. Also, isn't it a very good question to ask, why some taxis are charging 1000 to the same destination. She was told that the meter wo...

Taxi Mafia | 08 December 2016 - 01:14:39

B1,000 fine clearly does not deter taxi drivers from over charging or behaving badly. 

You need to cancel the taxi license and stop being so soft on Thai taxi drivers otherwise it will never end.

marcher | 07 December 2016 - 15:37:05

Amazing Thailand yet again. A woman argues about being charged B700 taxi fare when other drivers charge B1000! Didn't she agree this beforehand? If so why argue about the meter if the fare was fixed. It sounds as though the taxi driver was happy to get rid of her. Hold on a minute, this insignificant tale went viral. Obviously there was no other course of action than to send out an army regime...

Kurt | 07 December 2016 - 14:58:41

A normal Phuket taxi practice as mentioned in this article..
--- Overcharged, preferable not use taxi meter ( they cover with face towel).
--- Indeed, you even can not trust a Phuket taxi meter, meters are manipulated.

Despite many governors said to get in control of the taxi mafia, so far only thai words.

A few days ago I had my car serviced in Phuket town. 
In afternoon I was standing a...

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