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Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Espoo, Finland
Level Contributor
1 post
9 reviews
5 helpful votes
Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Lonely planet and several web sites warn about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal but it seems that the scammers have gotten much more arrogant than previously.

Me and my wife just barely avoided getting scammed today. We boarded a public bus from Probolinggo to Bondowoso on our way to Kawah Ijen. The scammers were "helping" us to find the right bus although they were giving us some contradictory information. Anyway, we finally concluded that the following bus to Bondowoso would leave 2 pm so we would have time to have lunch before that. Despite that, some of the scammers started waving at us in the middle of our luch (restaurant next to the buses) half past one. They said that the bus is leaving now and we should get on board. With our bags in the bus and us sitting inside, there were a couple of guys trying to collect the ticket fee from us. They said the price is 50,000 per person plus 10,000 per large bag. We had read that the price should be about 20,000 and knew never to pay the ticket before the bus has left the terminal so we of course did not pay but insisted that we pay when the bus is moving. I believe this far the scam was just the regular one.

When I asked of the locals in the bus, how much the price should be, the scammers vanished for a couple of minutes. I had also tried to ask a couple of other people around the bus who seemed to be working for the bus company about the price but they waved me to talk with the scammers. However, the scammers were very persistent. After a couple of minutes they returned and one of them was telling us that he is the diver of the bus. He was waving some keys in front of us pretending them to be the bus keys, and telling us to pay now. When we just sat and did not pay he started yelling at me "Mr. Get out of the bus". At this point I was not anymore sure if we were being scammed or what was happening so we decided not to pay and leave the bus.

At this point, the scam had obviously failed because we did not pay, so the scammers vanished again when we left the bus. When we were trying to get our bags from the bus, some friendly local guys told us to get back to the bus, told us the real price for the trip and the real departure time. I am writing this post in the bus, hopefully soon in Bondowoso.

Anyway, it seems that none of the locals, not even the bus staff, will help you at the bus station if it means ruining the scam. After a failure they are very helpful. I do not know if they get their share of the scam profits or if they are threatened. The scammers seem to also have gotten very very arrogant. If we would have known beforehand how difficult it is to get into a bus in Probolinggo, we would have taken a prearranged minivan tour to Bromo and Ijen.

As a side note, the minivan prices to Cemoro Lawang have doubled. We (7 people) had to pay 525,000 for the whole van to Cemoro Lawang from Probolinggo bus station at around 4 pm. We tried bargaining but they would not give any discount even when we told the driver that we would look for an other ride. We asked around the bus terminal for a rental van but everyone pointed us back to the cartel vans. They were very well trained.

31 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
61,585 posts
127 reviews
4,624 helpful votes
1. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Iira P, hi

To summarize your post: all travel/ tourist activity on Bromo-Ijen is operated and controlled by local mafia. In all this you could not find law-an-order, rules or honesty. Every tourist ( with western looks especially) is just a milking cow for the scammers.......and the most horrible thing - our government does not care, every visitor to Indonesia MUST know - you are on your own, you are not protected and you are exposed to anything, if smth happens ( god forbid) none will come to your rescue. Even if you go to local police to report anything ( theft, threat etc) , they`ll laugh at your face. That`s..all.,

2. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

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Removed on: 07 May 2015, 13:28
Bruges, Belgium
Level Contributor
153 posts
1,538 reviews
313 helpful votes
3. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

I had the same experience in probolinggo terminal a couple of weeks ago...very persistent and annoying guys trying to get the busfare before the bus leaves, tripling the price...i just put on my headphones and totally ignored them...then paid the regular fare to the real conductor after the bus left the terminal and was well on its way to surabaya...regular fare was just 20.000 rp...the scammers asked for 60.000 rp...worst is nobody intervenes or cares, not the terminal officials, the busdriver, or the other passengers...

Edited: 06 May 2015, 21:20
Novo mesto
Level Contributor
1 post
5 reviews
2 helpful votes
4. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

The Probolinggo bus terminal is indeed a pretty horrible place. It was the only bad experience in Indonesia so far. The scammers are very intimidating. But there is one good thing there. At Toto travel agency the staff will help you get the right bus, tell you exactly how much the bus fare is and how to avoid the scammers. They even told us everything about Mt Bromo and Ijen eventhough we didn't take their tour. But be carefull, we heard that the scammers are now pretending to be Toto travel agency, so the only real Toto has an office at the bus terminal, not anywhere else around Probolinggo.

Kuala Lumpur...
1 post
1 review
5. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Happen to me as well. I am taking pantas bus from probolinggo to Surabaya. I did some research the price is rupiah 30k and I saw other local pay this amount. When the person who collect payment from me ask me for 100k and I refuse, I told him is 30k end up he just took money and walk away. Wtf

Fyi, once you reach the probolinggo bus station there are alot scammer come and offer you to buy the bus tic and some even said they will bring you to information center... just ignore then and go to the correct terminal. For surabaya is at station one or platform 1 or whatsoever.

1 post
6. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Same experience here. Took Angkot line D from train station to supposedly bus station. Before arriving at the real bus station they stopped and unloaded our bags, saying that this is the public bus station. They were advertising with 35000rp per person to Cemoro Lawang (not saying that this only applies when u have 15pax in the bus: 525/15=35). Ended up paying 475 for the bus with 5 people after a lot of haggling.

Going down from Cemoro Lawang the same game!

Afterwards wanted to take a public bus to Banyuwangi. Heard like 4 different stories at the bus station. We already had our bags in a supposedly public bus that goes directly to Banyuwangi when some scammer was asking 75000 for the ride (which we were told is 40). Had our bags unloaded again... Price was coming down to 65, then 55, then they took of. Ended up taking an eksekutif bus...

This all said with 4 years of China experience and a lot of travelling in SEA.

Level Contributor
61,585 posts
127 reviews
4,624 helpful votes
7. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Onyxdop, hi

Thanks for posting your honest feedback...

what can i say? This is utterly disgusting practice but it goes on, and on, and on...

Moscow, Russia
Level Contributor
2 posts
186 reviews
91 helpful votes
8. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Does anyone know the place where I can see the actual prices for buses in Java? Or googling for hours?

Level Contributor
61,585 posts
127 reviews
4,624 helpful votes
9. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

There is no such place. Even if ( if) it existed every scammer in the bus can say the info is old and new prices are 100, 200 etc % more of what you saw online.

Surabaya, Indonesia
Level Contributor
375 posts
70 reviews
15 helpful votes
10. Re: Warning about scams in Probolinggo bus terminal

Actually, the Purabaya bus terminal provides tix prices on their website. And also lots of backpacking blogs. But sadly the latter is mostly in Bahasa.

Easiest way to avoid scammers is to ignore them and just head on. Shake your head and say no to anyone who approach you and try to help with your bag. Read the info signs on which platform you should go and stay there.

Scamming practice has always been there... Most of practitioners are hiding behind the "I'm a bus crew" excuse.

Oh and another thing, make sure to pay in just enough amount of money. Don't push your luck. They do this to everyone. Looking non-local will only make you an easier target.

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