I have host Conor Woodman and the show Scam City to thank for saving me from the Thai gem scam. Not that I buy much jewelry. But, travelling can put one in the shopping mood.
I booked a half day tour of the Bangkok canals and Wat Arun & Wat Pho temples through Viator, acting on behalf of a Thai company called Tour East Thailand. Loved the canal trip aboard a long tail boat. The temples were teeming with tourists, especially Wat Pho, but that’s to be expected. Glad I saw them.
I understood the tour company would drop me back at my hotel where I’d been picked up. Instead, I was taken to a gem factory along with the two other people on the tour. There was nothing on the itinerary about a gem store visit.
There, we were ushered into a theatre to watch a short glitzy promo video on gemstones in Thailand. Afterwards, I was met (accosted?) by a salesperson who insisted on walking me through the giant retail store. I told her I had no intention of buying gems and asked to be taken to my hotel. She insisted the only way to get to the van was through the store.
Without being rude, I refused to be engaged in a discussion about gems, settings or prices as she walked me through the store. Finally, I was handed off to a driver and stuffed into a van with other bewildered travellers.
I had the van drop me off at the closest sky train station. I likely will NEVER again book through Viator. They need to do a better job of vetting the companies they deal with. As for Tour East Thailand, my advice is to avoid them.
There’s a lot of info on the internet about the Bangkok gem scam in case you’re planning a trip there. The scam isn’t illegal. But you could end up owning gems worth far less than you paid.