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Bangkok Taxi Driver - Restaurant (Phuntong Garden) scam

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I posted this as part of a larger trip report but wanted to post it separately for those who don't read my trip report. I'm guessing it's relatively common, though people may not know ever they've been taken advantage of. I’ll preface it by saying “shame on me” in more ways than one. I never even realized I’d been scammed until after the fact. It all started when the concierge at the Peninsula made reservations for us at The Mango Tree and gave us a card from the restaurant with a map, the restaurant’s name and address in Thai, etc. Outside the Peninsula pier, I gave this card to a taxi driver and asked if he were familiar with it. He assured me he was. “Thai and seafood” he said. I questioned which way he was going at one point (provoking laughter from my children) but he told me he knew exactly where he was. Sure enough, he pulled up in front of a restaurant and announced that we had arrived at the Mango Tree. There wasn’t a sign (first giveaway) so my wife asked the person at the door if this were the Mango Tree. “Yes, this is the Mango Tree.” My wife wasn’t totally convinced (I think it was the dirty tablecloth), so to settle matters I asked our waitress if this were the Mango Tree. “Yes, this is the Mango Tree.” OK, honey, you heard what she said. Anyway, when the bill came, rather than handing it to me our waitress held onto it and typed 3800 into a calculator she was holding. Seemed expensive for what we had ordered. When my credit card slip came, though, it was only 3400 baht. The waitress explained that service was not included on the credit card and that I needed to leave 400 baht in cash for service. At this point, I got suspicious and asked to see the itemized bill. Of course, the 3400 baht included service, taxes, etc. Basically, the waitress was trying to extort an additional 400 baht from me and, were it not that the bill already seemed too high for what we had ordered, I almost went along with it. When we returned to the Peninsula, I stopped by the concierge desk to recount our experience. He immediately picked up the phone to call the Mango Tree. Guess what? We never showed up for our reservations. I pulled out my credit card slip. We in fact had eaten dinner at a place called the Phuntong Garden. Given that the restaurant was full of westerners, I am guessing that there are a lot of people who still think they ate at the Mango Tree (or some other Thai restaurant). My two pieces of advice: 1) don’t ever eat at the Phuntong Garden. Any restaurant that resorts to tactics like this shouldn’t be patronized and 2) pay more attention than I did. Make certain you are, in fact, where you want to be.

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