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'Jet ski operator seized our Dh3,000 deposit'

Indian tourists cry foul after being forced to pay for damages they claim were not caused by them

  • By Mazhar farooqui, deputy editor
  • Published: 22:05 January 9, 2013

  • Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/XPRESS
  • Fleeced: Qazi Shaukat Husain, right, and his brother Hamza Husain alleged they were ripped off Dh3,000 by a jet ski-operator in Mamzar, Sharjah xpress/Abdel-Krim Kallouche

SHARJAH A visiting Indian family is crying foul after a jet ski operator in Mamzar confiscated their Dh3,000 security deposit for ‘damaging’ a jet ski they had rented for Dh120 per hour.

Recounting the Sunday afternoon incident, Qazi Shaukat Husain, 45, said he had barely gone a few metres into the lagoon when the jet ski developed a snag. “It started spurting smoke so I took it ashore and walked down to the rental operator’s beachside office seeking a replacement. But instead of apologising for the defective jet-ski, they held us responsible for the fault and confiscated the Dh3,000 we had given as a security for three jet skis. Our efforts to reason with them were met with dire threats.”

Husain’s younger brother Qazi Shujaat, who was part of the six-member family group that rented the water craft, said he is “absolutely certain” the operator gave them a faulty jet-ski deliberately so they could seek damages later. “We were not the only victims. That afternoon a European man was also intimidated into paying $1,000 for non-existent damages to another jet ski. It’s a scam, a big racket, targeting unsuspecting riders,” said Shujaat.

Complaints Galore

His suspicious are not unfounded. Instances abound where jet-ski enthusiasts have been taken for a ride by operators in Mamzar.

“It happened to me too. I was not carrying any money so I gave them my labour card as a security. When I returned the jet ski after an accident-free ride, the operator said I had caused a dent in the machine and refused to hand back my labour card until I paid them Dh2,000. I negotiated it down to Dh1,000 and had to go to an ATM to withdraw the money,” said Anwar, 32, from Pakistan. “They threatened to call the police... I got scared,” he added.

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An Arab father and a Russian expat recounted a similar experience in a Gulf News report last September.

The report also said how ‘fake police in plain clothes’ often show up at the scene and force people to pay on the spot.

Last year a senior Sharjah police officer urged people not to be frightened and report such cases to them. “People shouldn’t be scared. If they [rental companies] seize the victims’ ID, no worries — people can leave it with them and come to us to report the case,” Brigadier Abdullah Mubarak Al Dukhan, deputy director of Sharjah Police, was quoted as saying.

Yet when Husain called Sharjah police, he was asked to approach the court. “I am here on vacation. How can I possibly involve myself in a court case when I am flying back on January 13?” he said.

On its part rental operator Atlantis Adventure not only denied any foul play but also threatened to file a case against Husain, seeking another Dh3,800 in compensations

“The man drove the jet ski in too little water and it led to an engine fire. Now he has to pay for repair work and another Dh500 for each day the jet ski will be at the workshop. It’s about Dh6,800 in total,” said Ahmad, a partner at Atlantis Adventure, one of the 16 odd companies operating around 160 jet skis at the popular lagoon.

“Around 90 per cent of people don’t know how to ride jet skis. They make big mistakes so they have to pay. Our jet skis are not insured. It’s clearly mentioned in our terms and conditions,” Ahmad added.



Have you or anyone you know have had a similar experience? Share your story with us.

Comments (7)

Your comments
  1. Added 12:46 January 10, 2013

    I think this is really unfair towards the tourists or general public, even if the damage was caused by them. As the rental company claims, many people do not know how to use the water-craft. Therefore it is their responsability and duty to convey the relevant safety and usage information to the user. If they fail to do so, others can't take the blame. In addition to this, renting vehicles or water-craft is a high-risk, however they are able to make a lot of money. They need to secure their income by taking out the relevant insurance. That would just be common sense. I hope the authorities investigate these claims in more details.

    Michael, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:35 January 10, 2013

    I encourage all people not to go to this ride.......

    Philip, Cruz, United States

  3. Added 12:12 January 10, 2013

    I was conned badly as they once gave me a faulty jet ski with battery issue which stopped in the middle of the sea far away from the loading area of the jet ski. I was stranded all alone and it turned dark and I was stuck for 2 hours in the middle of the sea.. hoping to reach the land somehow by morning. Luckily I spotted a boat and I gained the owner's attention. He had gone to report about me missing in the sea.. by the time they came for me my jet ski drifted to another area. WHAT A NIGHTMARE.. somehow I was rescued after hours only to find out that I had to pay for the battery and for all the hours I was stuck in the sea with no help. I AM NEVER GOING TO THESE GUYS AGAIN!

    hala, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 10:58 January 10, 2013

    The Jet Ski operators mention that people ride the jet ski on shallow water, how come the Dubai municipality allow operators to function in shallow waters because all cases mentioned here states they rode the jet ski for a few meters and then it started smoking. There needs to be stringent checks on mechanical operators otherwise we will have another article on JET SKI MAFIA.

    Deepak, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 08:48 January 10, 2013

    I paid Dh500 last summer, when without any crash my jetski just opened into pieces in the middle of the sea and I was almost drowned. The jetski operator demanded Dh2000 plus rental charges for the days the jetski was not operating. But there was a local man on his personal jetski who witnessed the entire episode. So he came to the jetski's office with me and threatened to take him to courts. I called the Sharjah Police and they informed me to file a court case. Finally I paid Dh500 to get rid of the issue.

    Sza, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 08:24 January 10, 2013

    Very true. These are cheaters. Even I had the same experience. They tried to cheat me but they couldn't succeed. I was asked to pay for a damage that was earlier repainted. Never trust these guys and ensure before you rent the bike you take a full video of the bike.

    Mohamed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 00:01 January 10, 2013

    I have heard similar stories before. Hope these are regulated.

    Zekk, dubai, United Arab Emirates