This is perhaps the most common scam in Thailand that robs international tourists of their money on a large scale. Tourists visiting Thailand for short periods usually buy prepaid SIM cards for their cellular phones. SIM cards from phone companies such as DTAC and True Move are officially sold either free of cost or at a starter price of 49 or 50 THB. However, after arriving into Thailand, tourists are not able to easily locate official phone company shops and therefore end up buying prepaid SIM cards from pavement vendors or from SIM card shops located inside shopping malls. That is where the scam takes place. On the pavement shops, the scam is standardised. A free SIM or a 49 THB SIM is sold by pavement vendors at a fixed price of 100 THB. However, in the SIM card shops in shopping malls, its a big scam. A free or basic SIM card costing 49 or 50 THB is sold by these shops to unsuspecting tourists at anything from 200 to 300 THB.
Spot the difference
The tourists are not able to see the price of this True Move 3G Tourist Inter SIM because the price printed on the SIM pack by the phone company is covered by the vendor with a sticker. See the picture above that shows the SIM pack with the actual price printed on it and another one where the price is covered with a sticker.
Don’t Get Scammed
I had personal experience with the below two SIM card shops in Pattaya and Bangkok where they asked for obscene prices for basic SIM cards.
Nana Phone, Nana Square Mall (Nana BTS) Bangkok
This shop at Nana Square Mall near Nana BTS Station in Bangkok asked for 200 THB for a DTAC SIM card that was sold by the phone company at 50 THB. I tried to tell them about the information I had from the DTAC website but they kept insisting that the company price of the SIM card was 200 THB. Later, the lady at the shop said that she was right in charging 200 THB for the 50 THB SIM because she operated from a private shop.
First Phone – Big C Building, Second Road, Pattaya
This shop is located in the shopping mall that houses Big C, on Pattaya Second Road (near Alcazar show). These people went ahead of Nana Shop and asked for 290 THB for the 49 THB Starter Pack of True Move 3G Tourist Inter SIM. I told them about the company website and the actual price of the SIM. The shop’s staff did not agree. Then I showed them the printout I had from the True Move Website and even told them them that the SIM was sold at pavement shops for 100 THB. With their scam exposed, all they could come up with was a lame – “100 THB SIM cards do not have Internet”.
The phone companies could themselves be involved in the scam because the staff at a True Move Official Company Store near Tuk-Com on South Pattaya Road told me that True Move did not sell any Tourist SIM cards and they were not aware of any 3G Tourist Inter SIM. Funny, the SIM was being sold at all the pavement SIM shops outside but the company people had not heard of it.