Scam #1: ‘Porters’ at Denpasaar Airport charging money for 10m carrying of bags

I’m a bit annoyed… as I’ve just fallen victim to a scam, despite all of the precautions I thought I took to avoid it. I’ll start a category in my blog, as a result, to publicise all scams encountered during my travels so as to help future travellers from experiencing the same.

Scam #1: ‘Porters’ at Denpasaar Airport

After passing the immigration desk, and getting my visa stamped, I headed on to baggage claim to pick up my rucksack. My bag was already on the floor, accompanied by 3 ‘Porters’, each dressed in a uniform. My immediate deduction was that their uniform gave them some credibility; I acted on the Western assumption that they had been ‘security cleared’, and that they were performing their ‘duties’.

Nonetheless, they pointed to my bag, asking me whether it was mine. As I nodded ‘yes’, they carried my bag 5 meters to the left, in the direction of a currency exchange. They then told me to change money into Rupiahs. As I hadn’t intended on changing currency at that stage, and felt rather confused and violated, I refused and said ‘no’. I then noticed that my bag was wide open. The lock I had put on the zipper before check-in was completely pulled off; the zip was removed as well. I communicated my observation to these so-called ‘porters’, and their simultaneous reply was: ‘tip?’, ‘50000 Rupiahs’. I looked at them, confused, and said no… at this stage, I was more concerned about my bag…asking myself questions like: is anything missing? Has something been tampered with? Has something been put in my bed?

As I stood there, waiting for Alex to come through immigration, I noticed a rat hop by. My head started pounding; the anxiety and tiredness from the long-haul flight gave me a headache. The image of the rat compounded my frustration into pulses in my head.

I then finally noticed Alex come to me… relaying a similar narrative of events as my own… the only difference being, he was 50000 Indonesian Rupiahs short.

Lesson learned? Expect these ‘porters’ on arrival, and don’t let them touch your bag. If they grab it before you have the chance to stop them, don’t pay them any money. They don’t deserve it. 

One thought on “Scam #1: ‘Porters’ at Denpasaar Airport charging money for 10m carrying of bags

  1. So much for the ‘welcome wagon’. No doubt you have to beware. Long, tiring flights only increase the need for vigilance. I lost a prized Nikon camera, several lenses, and tons of film years back in Athens because a taxi driver removed my luggage from his trunk but conveniently forgot to remove my camera bag. By the time I noticed, he had driven off into the sunset with my goods, never to be seen again.

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