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Shopping Advice and Beware

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TAT
Tourism Authority of Thailand
License Number: 11/2802

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Fixed prices are the norm in department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok, but at most other places bargaining is acceptable and expected. Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding.
Last Modified On: Tuesday, 05/December/2006 20:39:31pm

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Fixed prices are the norm in department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok, but at most other places bargaining is acceptable and expected. Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding. 

Thai silk, cotton, wood carving and handicraft are attractive and reasonably priced. Precious stones such as sapphires and rubies are also famous for good buys. Tipping is not stand practice in Thailand, although it is becoming increasingly common. Many larger hotels and restaurants add a 10% service charge to the bill. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip but the gesture is appreciated and 10-20 baht is acceptable for porters.

Bargaining is widely practiced, except in department stores, but at most other places bargaining is to be expected. Generally, you can obtain a final figure of between 10-40% lower than the original asking price. Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood. But remember, Thais appreciate good manners and a sense of humor. With patience and a broad smile, you will not only get a better price, you will also enjoy shopping as an art. There are several things you should keep in mind when you shop in Thailand.

  1. Shop around to compare prices - this is especially important with gems and jewellery.
  2. Obtain a receipt for goods bought and check if is correct before leaving the shop
  3. Never let a tout or new found friend take you shopping. Stores give commission to these people, and the cost is reflected in the price you pay.
  4. In general, jewellery items cannot be returned. If refunds are allowed, then often 25-30% of the selling price will be deducted as “costs of damages”. More reputable companies may offer a full refund although usually only within a certain time limit, such as 30 days. Do not believe any claims by shop owners that purchases can be refunded at Thai embassies, consulates or other government offices overseas.
  5. Reputable shops will give a written agreement to a full refund on any goods returned within 90 days. If a shop refuses to do this, go eslewhere.
  6. Shops in hotel arcades pay high rents and accordingly prices tend to be higher than at street shops. On the other hand, hotel arcades are very convenient if you have little time for shopping.

According to The Tourism Authority of Thailand, they receives over 1,000 complaints a year about fake jewellery purchases. To avoid being a statistic, you must stay alert to the warning signs of a swindle at work. Heeding our warning could help you stave off unpleasent surprises and make your vacation what it should be - full of sparkle.

The following are valuable pointers for your protection:

  1. Be wary of any encounter that ends up requiring your presence in a gem shop. Most probably it is a scam.
  2. Buying gems or jewellery to resell at double or triple the purchase prices is an impossible proposition under any circumstances. Buy jewellery only for personal satisfaction for your own use or for loved ones.
  3. Make price comparisons in various shops before deciding to buy. Never be in a hurry.
  4. Never mail sapphires or other precious stones. Carry valuable items with you.
  5. Do not believe special (jewellery) sales of any kind. Reputable dealers hardly ever offer sales and never send touts to lure tourists to their stores.
  6. There are no promotions, shows or special sales on jewelry authorized by the government or any official agencies at any time of the year.
  7. The government does not own, operate, subsidize, or authorize any jewellery stores.
  8. As far as you can, take time to verify all claims. Words, promises, personal guarantees, unchecked documents, unauthorized verbal or written statements, casual references, encounters and the like do not constitute verification. Remember, you are your own best protection.
  9. All Thai embassies, consulates or any delegations abroad are neither bound nor responsible for refunding goods that are bought in Thailand.
  10. When in doubt about a gem shop, check it with Tourist Assistance Centre (Tourism Authority of Thailand)
    1600 New Phetburi Road, Makkasan, Rajatevee, Bangkok 10310
    Tel: (66) 2250 5500 Fax: (66) 2250 5511
    Email: center@tat.or.th

 

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