Jump to content
timrock

Bali Customs at it AGAIN!

Recommended Posts

After photographers have had a relatively reasonable period of entering Bali without hassles, it appears Customs is back at its latest extortion scam. The deal now is they are claiming visitors can only bring in one camera worth more than $250. The second camera is, according to various Indo sources, subject to an arbitrary 16 to 60% of the value of the camera. In my case they placed a 37.5% value on two D200 cameras and wanted a $1400 refundable deposit to take them into the country to ensure I would not sell them. I told them I had 2 housings, one for each camera and the other was used for land images and as a backup. Made no difference and any sort of en carte form wasn't wanted. I could sign no guarantee. It was cash or leave the cameras. I wouldn't pay so they took 2 bodies to be returned when I leave. They gave me a form. We'll see what happens. The next day I was told I could get them out for a non-refundable 5 miilion rupiahs... about $550 US dollars. I did not pay that either so I head out to remote Sangalaki with one camera. Hope it doesn't flood.

 

There is no recourse, by the way. Talking to many Bali dive operators and film industry people, this activity has been on the rise and the head of tourism has no power to stop it.

 

Attached is the photo of "professional" Bali Customs agent F. J. Rewyaar sticking his tongue out a me as he fills out the paperwork to take the cameras.

 

I know of at least 3 Wetpixel members that have had some form of this extortion happen. Since virtually everyone I know carries at least one backup body and is on a tight deadline to get to a live aboard in Indonesia or up to a remote spot in Bali, they have us by the gonads. Usually a cash bribe is the result. But I just won't pay the crooks.

 

So be warned, bring a bunch of cash with you to Indo that you don't want or need again or find a destination that appreciates the time, money an personal expense you put into a visit to its country. It ain't Indo and certainly not Bali.

 

Tim Rock

post-1081-1202008723_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

tim, well that's the same guy who got me as well a year and a half ago...

ended up paying usd100 to get my second body out of his greedy paws...

i see they are at it again...

 

an option may be to fly into another indo airport first and arrive via the national arrivals as opposed to international.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

is there a way to report it to those in a higher position and complain about corruption? or is that naivety on my part? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:):(

 

Would be interesting to know if it's just this dude or if the other officials are doing it too (when he's absent).

Is this a consistent thing or does he/do they juck pick some tourists at random until he's gathered enough money (for that moment)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They tried some kind of scam with me when I went to Indonesia last year. I just didnt say anything. They wanted to insist I was a professional photographer and therefor had to pay. My answer to everything was 'no'. I didnt volunteer any talk.

 

Are you supposed to get your money back when you leave the country? Anyone actually done that?

 

Cor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We experienced a "soft" try by customs last time we went through Bali - fortunately our "agent" was on the ball and the problem went away without to much trouble.

 

 

Seems to me that they are targeting folk who represent themselves as professional photographers / jounalists . I guess they figure profesionals need the equipment so they will pay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just walked through Bali customs last week with 2 Canon 1D series bodies, 2 HVR series HD cameras and an assortment of lenses. They checked me and I told them I'm on a diving holiday. They let me go without hassle.

At least they are asking for a bond, NOT customs duties which would be NON-refundable. Getting the money back is a slow process but I've 'heard' from companies bringing in lots of equipment it's refunded in cash at port of entry as well.

And to be fair to the customs guys, I've seen people sell entire systems to local guys when they leave thus bypassing custom duties. Every local guy wants to avoid taxes.

To avoid problems, I would suggest you store the bodies separately in 2 different bags and not use 'photog' looking bags. They see dive bags they look more closely.

On a more interesting note, there is an Anti-Corruption conference in Nusa Dua now. Oh the irony!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently thinking of Bali as a dive destination - there again maybe not if this is representative of the BS level.........

 

Paul C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am currently thinking of Bali as a dive destination - there again maybe not if this is representative of the BS level.........

 

Paul C

Paul, I travel to Bali several times a year and I've never had that problem over the many years I've been going there. I have just as much if not more equipment as Tim does.

The experiences of the others are inconvenient but since there are many more people who go through without incident, I think it's not indicative of the customs experience in Ngurah Rai airport. As a former resident of Bali, I can tell you almost all local expats ask people to bring stuff from Singapore/US etc for them to bypass buying stuff locally, many times because they cannot find it easily in Indonesia.

Regardless of that, I do think everyone should keep the incidents at Bali in perspective. The customs can only ask for a bond, which is refundable when you leave. It's an inconvenience but no more than overweight luggage and arbitrary cabin luggage rules of different airports around the world. A bribe is NOT necessary and should be avoided as you just give them more reason to attempt this stunt.

 

A few things people may wish to consider when travelling to/through Bali:

  1. If you are leaving from a different airport from the one you arrive in, MAKE SURE you show them that.
  2. They tend to pick on people with huge bags which have pelican cases and the likes. Staying under the radar does help.
  3. If you have a camera bag, keep the other camera body separately away from that bag. If they don't see your other body, they can't fuss about it.
  4. As per Cor's experience, minimize any response. Just say you are on holiday and when they say anything, say no politely. They are looking for a bribe and really couldn't be bothered with the extra paper work. If they don't see you are about to give them money, they may just wave you by.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...snip...

A few things people may wish to consider when travelling to/through Bali:

  1. If you are leaving from a different airport from the one you arrive in, MAKE SURE you show them that.
  2. They tend to pick on people with huge bags which have pelican cases and the likes. Staying under the radar does help.
  3. If you have a camera bag, keep the other camera body separately away from that bag. If they don't see your other body, they can't fuss about it.
    ...snip...

Drew very good advice!

 

Indeed when i got stopped i had a pelican case and a couple of other cases... not using the pelican anymore i now try and fly under the radar :)

 

And this isn't gonna stop me from going to Bali!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in Balikpapan now and will tell you more after I attempt to get the bodies back. Drew's points are good but I could have gotten them out for $550 no questions asked. Not refunded. That has nothing to do with catching smugglers. It's just a payoff.

 

And everyone in Bali accepts this and doesn't rock the boat.

 

Just be warned. I saw the guy right across from me at Customs exit get fleeced as well for cash. Some German guy with 2 point and shoots.

 

Off to Sangalaki with one camera I go!

 

Best,

 

Tim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same thing happened to me in 2006-

 

I arrived at Bali 30ish hours door to door from Nashville. When I

looked in the Arrival hall after gathering my bags from the

carousel, I did not see any tour rep holding a Wakatobi sign with my

name mispelled in magic marker.

 

I only saw a pair of Customs officers smiling at my Pelican case,

which had been conspicuously marked with a big "X" with chalk.

 

It only took me an hour of kabuki theater to barter them down from

1650 USD import bond, to 150 USD, coincidentally most of the contents

of my wallet.

 

While I was enjoying Wakatobi, the tour rep whose failure

to meet me was the proximate cause of this incident researched the

situation.

 

I was essentially guilty of entry without a ground agent.

 

When the Indonesian Customs found that not to be the case, quick

refund, no questions asked.

 

If I had not had a ground agent , they wanted me to check the camera

gear into Singapore Air, talk my way past the guards into the

arrival hall, and sincerely tell them the locked bags in Singapore

Air's possession contained the camera gear <g>.

 

Terence Fails

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow ! Great reads here ...

The thing came to mind is if the booking made thru whatever that has a rep to 'help'/'welcome' you at the airport, I think that helps. When I did the Peliagian/Wakatobi last year, they had someone came pick us up, what suprises me was that person pick us up at the gate which meant he went thru immigation/custom no problem. The net of this was I didn't have any problem going thru immigration or custom, I never saw my bag (almost) other then identify them on the belt.

This is definitely great information when I go back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a hell of a bond when they start calculating it...better negotiate a payoff (which was what I did), the more money who carry in your wallet the more you will have to leave behind, so leave 100Eur in small bills in your wallet. If they ask why you have so little, just say that everything was paid in advance and that the cash is mostly for tips, once you hand over the contents of your wallet they are happy, they have cleaned you out and therefore they got as much as they could without having to do the paperwork. So easy money for them (for the officer in charge mainly) and you avoid the outrageous bond calculation. Yes, it was Denpasar. It is the senior officer in charge (one of them at least), when you say you don't have money for the bond a guy goes out and calls him and them he negotiates with you the non-refundable, voluntary contribution to his pocket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, Bali! We were stopped twice on our way from Tulamben to Denpasar by the police. $20 the first time and $10 the second. And we were using a local driver!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hahah.. you got ripped off. should only be 50000 rupes, about $5 or so. i think your driver got % maybe?

 

even with only a couple white guys in the car we have only paid 50

 

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what do the police claim is your crime that warrants a payoff?

 

Cor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess in Bali they extort their tip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So what do the police claim is your crime that warrants a payoff?

 

Cor

 

driving on the road :D

 

and of course whenever its grocery day...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously though. Ive been lucky enough to never have this happen. So they come up to your cab (driven by someone else), what do they say? Car was going too fast and customer has to pay? Or show me passport, you dont have the local stamp? Or you're not allowed to wear a white t-shirt on mondays?

 

What do they do if you dont follow the proper pay-off ritual but instead show an empty wallet?

 

Cor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

they have road blocks and pull everyone over.. has only happened to me once so far.. touch wood

 

last time was no intl driving permit so had to pay. if you have that, then its something wrong with the car etc. everyone i know keeps a 50K in the glove box. i suppose you could just keep driving.. :D

 

my buddy had a great experience, the cop asked for permit and he had it. the cop then said "what are you going to do for me?"

my friend "I am not sure what you mean?"

what are you going to do for me? i need my breakfast

my friend "oh, here is a couple bananas" and drove away! hahahaha

 

usually i just have drew drive for me and I sit in the back and let him pay the fines ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike is this something recent? I have been several time in 2000 -2001 and never hear of anything like this happening. Coming up in September and staying with Minni so I guess I better get some payoff cash put aside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mike is this something recent? I have been several time in 2000 -2001 and never hear of anything like this happening. Coming up in September and staying with Minni so I guess I better get some payoff cash put aside.

 

 

The customs thing ya, i didn't get nailed in Aug with all my stuff but seems to be a recent rash of it lately. First i heard of it was tim. Sounds like it is just if you have extra bodies for the housing. perhaps put one body in check in and one in carry on with the housing. Maybe they won't see it then.

 

When in Sept? i will be in Yap for about 2.5 weeks, not back till around 20th or so

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sponsors

Advertisements



×
×
  • Create New...