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Crappy customer service in thailand

  • pspoulin

    Joined Travelfish
    19th December, 2009
    Posts: 5

    Ive been in Thailand for 2 weeks now and ive traveled mostly in these islands: ko samui, ko phagnan, ko tao. The one thing that really annoys me so far is the horrible service i get in restaurants, shops and guesthouses. After having talked with some of the thais here, they tell me that most of them are overworked(16 hours/day) and underpaid which can explain a lot...
    Anyway, just wanted to have your thoughts and experience on this. Also, is it better up north, in the chiang mai area?

    #1 Posted: 18/1/2010 - 18:52

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  • Gorey

    Joined Travelfish
    26th March, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
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    Excluding Bangkok, i've found in general service and friendliness goes down the more 'touristy' (i dislike that word) and foreigner packed an area becomes, and Samui, Phagnan and Tao fall into that category i'd say. Islands and beaches are where it happens most since the majority of people come to Thailand for the beaches. It's obviously not a sweeping generalisation and there will always be many place who give fantastic service despite awful working hours.

    There is always the accidental rudeness/offense that someone can give off in a foreign culture and environment (im not accusing nor assuming you of this) but is happens and can cause rudeness to come back at you not often though as Thai people i found have been very tolerant of people who arn't accustomed to their customs.

    I've spent alot of time with people who work in restaurants or hotels/guesthouses both local and foreign and all have similar complaints, terrible wages (100B - 200B a day is common) long working hours almost always over 8 hours, often over 12, and a complaint known the world round Rude customers. Lets face it an awful lot of tourists are terribly rude to people in 'the service industry' abroad, quite belittling i find and then that will always be present with locals too just as it is in every country.

    I can only really base my opinion on those experiences of myself and those ive spoken to over the years but that the general feedback i get, i dont think it makes it acceptable, rudeness to your customer base doesnt do your business any favours and is unnecessary although at times understandable.

    #2 Posted: 18/1/2010 - 19:35

  • DLuek

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Thailand
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    In defense of the Thais (and other Southeast Asians), if I had to work 9 days straight in the lobby of a guesthouse - and sleep in the lobby of the guesthouse and wake up in the middle of the night to let the drunk tourists in, which many of them have to do - or work 7 days/week, 16 hours/day in a restaurant for very little pay, I would give crappy customer service too. I've been a bartender for many years and even when I have to work 7 days straight just 6 to 8 hours a day my customer service goes down hill. In this line of work we become numb, like walking zombies carrying trays when over-worked. People think it's easy but it's physically and mentally exhausting!

    If you want good customer service, go in to a restaurant and leave a good tip your first time. Every time you go back to that restaurant I guarantee you will get good service. As a rule I extend my American custom of tipping 15 to 20% when I'm in SE Asia even though I know it's not customary there. Not only is it good to be generous and make the servers happy, it's also a way to ensure good service when returning to the restaurant! Also keep in mind that for the Thais it's not considered rude to wave your hand and shout to the server when you need something. Don't be timid - that's the way they do it!

    #3 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 00:48

  • boleslav

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2009
    Posts: 80
    Total reviews: 5

    our experience in Chiang Mai - hotel Na Inn was very good, had to visit a hospital there due to an accient- very friendly personnel
    had negative experience with the truck mafia from Chiang Mai to Doi Suthep- very rude
    Staff at Khao Lak Amsterdam resort- very helpful, friendly
    Staff at Paradise lost- Ko Kradan - very helpful, friendly
    Staff at Erawan House in Bangkok - indifferent, not helpful, not rude overall, we did not feel the service was bad but we did an extensive research on where to stay and where not

    #4 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 00:58

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    "Crappy Customer Service" is the Thai national pass-time.

    It pervades all aspects of businesses in Thailand. At times it can be amusing but at other times serious - when there is a problem, Thai business attitude is to turn its back ignore and hope the problem will go away.

    From Hotel bookings to purchasing goods and probably most serious of all hospitals - once you have paid, your chances of refund without hassle are NIL - comeback on faulty goods and services is NIL - they will refuse to answer their phone if they think it is a complaint....the situation in Thailand is getting worse as te tourist industry expands and as Thailand has to deal in other ways with the outside world - contracts, property, exports - ALL suffer from the same Thai inability to comprehend how important customer service is.

    #5 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 01:18

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    "If you want good customer service, go in to a restaurant and leave a good tip your first time. Every time you go back to that restaurant I guarantee you will get good service. As a rule I extend my American custom of tipping 15 to 20% when I'm in SE Asia even though I know it's not customary there."

    Not the tipping debate again. Tipping this much in Asia just makes you look foolish. If you don't believe this, just look at how much wealthy Thais tip. Rounding up the bill is sufficient and appreciated.

    By the way, poor customer service is the norm in Thailand; try getting a refund on defective goods that you have bought, (even at Tesco or Carrefour), and see what I mean.

    #6 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 12:50

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    I have to go with Rufus on this one.....and very true observation about tipping - no matter how much you've tipped, try getting a settlement of any kind once something goes awry.....e.g. - may I suggest you try sending back a duff bottle of wine!!!!

    #7 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 14:21

  • somtam2000

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    It's a difficult one to stereotype, but having just off the phone with an exceptionally friendly, courteous and overly helpful Thai woman at Thai AMEX, I'm feeling that when the Thais do customer service right, they absolutely nail it.

    Agree with DLuek that guesthouse and bar/restaurant staff are often worked to the bone, and, as in any country, service suffers in that situation.

    If you're eating and hanging out in backpacker joints, chances are that some of the staff will have had their fill and be pretty jaded, but again, I don't think that is unique to Thailand.

    One also needs to keep perspective -- I don't expect six star service at zero star joints.

    I've been on the receiving end of exceptional service in Thailand far more often than horrendous service. Though I do agree with Rufus re defective goods -- to be fair though, getting a faulty hot water replaced isn't something many travellers get involved in...

    I don't agree re tipping, but each to their own. If the service is good, I tip -- if it is exceptional, my tipping reflects that.

    Rufus -- stacks of Thais tip -- and often tip very generously.

    #8 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 14:43

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    OK, as for tipping, I normally leave a 10% tip, give or take. And I get EXCELLENT customer service. But I live here. I go to the same restaraunts. The waiters and waitresses all know me. The Laos girls who work at Na bop are literally hanging on my arm when I walk in and move fast to get whatever I want. So I can't say I agree with Rufus or Wilko on that point - understanding that if you're a tourist you are by nature transitory so this won't apply. You won't be arond long enough to foster any sort of relationship with wait staff.

    I leave a 20 baht bill on the pillow whenever I stay in a guesthouse. The cleaning women there work hard for a small amount of remitance. I believe it is appreciated.

    I recently bought a used chopper here. The bike had some issues with it which surfaced three days after I bought it. The mechanic fixed it and replaced the bad parts (carborator and CSI) free of charge.

    When we bought our Air Conditioners the vendor agreed to service them free of charge. He has done so the last two years - cleaning them for free and repairing one (it was minor) for free as well.

    But in general I do agree that most places here, once you've given them the money, from their point of view the deal is done, and any problems you have are your problems, not theirs. I also have to say that I have been more fortunate than some of my friends, who have had some real customer service issues. One dropped his washing machine off to be repaired, the vendor lost it (or more likely fixed it and sold it) and then refused to compensate him for it. He didn't have a receipt (big mistake) so he was just SOL.

    #9 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 15:11

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    thailand is a pretty big place, so i don't think sweeping statements can fairly represent the full range of thai customer service, for good or bad. i would definitely agree that quite a few customer service folks, particularly those working on the lower end of the food chain, simply aren't empowered to solve a problem if something goes wrong, so in that sense there really is nothing they can do about it when there is a problem.

    in my experience though, anywhere i've lived and travelled, i notice i get better service when the person doing the work gets to share directly in the rewards. in the states this is through our tradition of tipping for sure. in thailand, i tend to get the best service from folks like noodle cart vendors who own the business and benefit directly from the profits they make.

    i think what we as individuals brings a lot to the equation too, particularly in terms of our expectations (like Somtam said, six-star service at a zero star joint is not realistic) and our own behavior towards the service folks (having personally seen far more travellers act like jerks than thai customer service people).

    anyway, luckily, my experiences have been much more on the positive side. and when things do go wrong, and i can think of quite a few examples, it doesn't hurt to remember that what i'm buying in thailand typically costs a third to a tenth what it would back home. by the way, this last reason is why i tip too - typically in the 10 percent range but sometimes more simply as a way to say thanks for the effort.

    #10 Posted: 19/1/2010 - 18:18

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  • DLuek

    TF writer
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    Location Thailand
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    Madmac - good call on leaving 20 baht on the pillow for the guesthouse cleaning person... They typically make next to nothing. In my opinion - no matter what country I'm in - generosity can make someone's day. So I don't care if I "look foolish" by tipping well... I'd rather be "foolish" and generous than "smart" and stingy!

    #11 Posted: 20/1/2010 - 02:49

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    I'm sorry but CS in Thailand is largely an illusion - I work in Thai industry and have first hand experience of this.

    Face is everything - at fist glance everything looks great, but if you ever have to scratch beneath the surface you'll find incompetence, procrastination and obstruction wherever you look. it is all pervasive in thai culture - after the deal there is nothing.

    naturally with the advent of international trade, tourism etc. thailand is being forced to address this issue but at present it is mostly window dressing.

    tipping is really a red herring here...although what actually happens if you tip is that the people just expect you to pay more for everything.
    there is still an attitude amongst lower paid workers here that "farang" are simply a fountain of cash and don't care what they fork out for anything.

    I think if some tourists found out the "going rate" for some of the goods and services they had paid out for they would be shocked at the difference.

    There is NO culture of tipping in thailand - there IS bribery, graft and nepotism, but tipping is small and rare - in places where foreign tourists frequent it is of course welcomed and then expected, but it is not necessary throughout the country and although I do tip when I think there is an advantage for me, I tend to follow the locals in general.

    e.g. - I was at a meal for about 20 people guest of a local "businessman" referred to as "Papa" - the bill was 15000 (approx.) - I saw the guy leave a tip and for future I asked how much he's left - "20 baht...for each server" total about 120 baht.

    #12 Posted: 20/1/2010 - 08:24

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 560

    Bit of background - When it comes to how much you tip - bear in mind that each region has a minimum wage, usually between 160 and 200 baht - for an 8 hour day. this is actually enforced - anyone can go to the dept. of labour who will ring an employer on your behalf.

    unfortunately most people are also on 6 or 7 day weeks and have, especially in the catering/tourism industry, to work a lot of "OT"

    the 5 day week is not yet the norm in thailand.

    #13 Posted: 20/1/2010 - 08:29

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
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    I should also add that I live in a border town. We have a lot of illegal labourers who are working very cheaply. Especially as wait staff (police are paid off or turn a blind eye for the most part), prostitutes and unskilled labour at construction sites and the like. They are often treated poorly by their employer and making very little money. This is one of the reasons (not the only one) I tip generously by the standards of the area.

    When I had work done on my house the contractor used two Vietnamese labourers. I gave each of them money after the work was done (and out of site of their employer just in case he decided that should be his tip) and each day they were here bought them lunch and a beer. They did great work - whether the result of getting a few bennies or not I can't say. For the work they did on my shop house it would have cost me a lot of money back home. Here I am a year latter and very happy with the work.

    Again, I can only speak of my experiences and those of my friends here. My wife does not like me tipping much - but that's because she sees that as money she could spend on something else. Tipping (and I iknow this is a whipped horse) is deeply ingrained culturally. American culture it's the norm, most Europeans it's not. I lived for a long time in Germany and I would tip a couple of Euro when I went out to eat - which I thought was ridiculously low and they thought foolishly high. But there too, I always got excellent service from the wait staff in places I frequented (at the officers club in II. Korps I was treated like a Prussian General by the "Ordnanz", complete with heel clicks, which I found most amusing).

    Of course what Wilko says is correct, we are often viewed as fountains of cash who will gladly overpay for anything. Tipping generously does nothing to dispel that notion. But I do not think that a generous act should be checked by cold calculation. Europeans have their own traditions, which are certainly in this respect more closely in line with the Thai. I don't think there's any debate about that. But I am not European and not Thai and don't feel compelled to try and assimilate my behavior in all manner. Linguistically I think it's important, but other typical behaviors here (riding without a helmet, maintaining a Mia Noi, Obsessive regard for "face") I do not feel a need to emulate. So it is with tipping. I tip in a way that I am comfortable with and would simply recommend others do the same.

    #14 Posted: 20/1/2010 - 09:43

  • Missis

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2009
    Posts: 30
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    I was very impressed by the customer service at Wendy House in Bangkok and appalled by the customer service in the Thai airways restaurant at the airport. So much so at the airport that we refused to pay the service charge, the only time we have seen it added in Thailand. Generally it was comparable to England to be honest!

    #15 Posted: 22/1/2010 - 02:23

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    I think some posters don't realise exactly what CS involves.

    you can offer a good or service, it can have as many or as little frills and embellishments as you like - e.g. drinks by the pool lovely view, a good with a warranty for two years etc etc, this is NOT customer service - this is the good or service offered - CS is the way this is handled and the backup when things go wrong - this is where Thailand falls down. Face is EVERYTHING here so frequently hotels and other businesses offer services that are way over their capability in the case of something going awry.- here in Thailand this is where the whole system collapses like a pack of cards.

    try taking a faulty electrical good back - immediately heels are dug in and paperwork is used as a baulk. Where's the receipt? the warranty card or any other bit of paper they can think of.

    In a hotel if your TV doesn't work or there's no hot water - if it can't be fixed in most countries they upgrade you straight away, you'll find that the solution most preferred in thailand is to suggest you have a cold shower - "sorry"......upgrades, replacements or money back are complete anathemas here.

    If they think they are getting MORE money then the attitude is different - e.g. tipping or paying too much in the fist place - who wouldn't be happy, but this will buy you only so much.

    In the end the lack of logic, the unbounded incompetence and complete reluctance to set things right will prevail.

    I call Thailand the land of 90% - nothing is ever 100% here, work not finished, wiring not earthed, rooms not fully equipped, even the simplest thing is botched.

    I said this to a friend the other day and his comment was
    "more like 60% if you ask me"

    #16 Posted: 22/1/2010 - 07:34

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
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    I guess it really depends on what definition of customer service you use. I think for different people this really means different things. If you stick to the standard definition of customer service "the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase", then Thailand rates poorly in many ways, as Wilko cited. Of course, so does Germany. Germans sales reps are terrible on the "before" end, Thai are terrible on the "after" end. German media has had a number of TV shows discussing surly sales representatives in buisinesses. And they do fit the stereotype - often, but not always. Of course Germans are meticulous people and this plays well in the after part, where contracts must be honored to the letter. AS with everything though, there are exceptions.

    What I do like about Thailand in this regard is the warmth with which I am greeted when I enter an establishment. Usually a generous smile, a positive attitude... This has value for me. I hate going into a place and have to hunt down a sales rep and then have him or her give me an attitude. When living in Damrstadt, Germany in 2003/4 my wife and I had to buy a new washing machine. We went into a large store, were checking out the machines, had a few questions. A sales rep walked by and I said in German "Excuse me, is there anyone who could help us with a purchase?" The sales rep never even stopped moving. He just said "No" and kept going. My wife was so angry she said she'd do our laundry by hand before ever buying a product in that store again.

    Anyway, for the most part I've had good luck here. But I'll readily admit "Small sample size" does apply and I've known plenty of expats here who grumble about it a lot.

    #17 Posted: 22/1/2010 - 10:35

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    When I went to buy a washing machine at Carrefour I had the management clear the floor of sales staff. I've never met a sadder bunch of ignoramuses in my life!

    Spotty teenagers with nNo product knowledge and absolutely no idea of how or even WHAT to sell.

    In the end I walked out with a washing machine a good discount and a trolley full of "extras" for free.

    I have since spent 100s of thousands at C'four and every time I buy something I show the receipt to Powerbuy!

    #18 Posted: 22/1/2010 - 18:43

  • AbgAcid

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    I m a malaysian, and I keep coming back to thailand for holidays. Thailand is a big country, no matter how many times I returned, there are still places need to be explored.

    And another reason I keep coming back is I personally find Thais are generally polite and customers service is good enough. Never had been disappointed. Perhaps its how we communicate,.. we say good things, we will get back good things. It reflects what we give. Another reason why someone had a bad experience is due to the difficulty of communication. Thais dont generally speak and understand english as much, and this will lead to miunderstanding of one's need and sparks argument. Always stay cool, smile be polite and you may be rewarded much better than you had expected.

    regards
    AA

    #19 Posted: 23/1/2010 - 13:48

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 560

    I don't see language as a problem - it is the attitude once money has changed hands..

    It may be that in Malaysia the general perception is to expect less, however the principal is this - if you pay for something and it doesn't perform - what will the vendor do about it?

    In most countries if they can't rectify the fault they will offer either a replacement or your money back - in Thailand the chances of this happening are extremely limited

    there is nothing here to do with language or manners.Next time you buy something from say Carrefour or any other major store look at your receipt - at the bottom in big letters is printed "NO REFUND" - there's no language problem with that - it is quite plain and simple. Whereas C/F may in fact not stick to this policy to the letter many Thai businesses whether selling a good or service do.

    i can even cite an instance where an acquaintance was refused his 10 baht back after the shop when he noticed that the daily paper he'd just bought was from the day before!

    When it comes to honouring promises and commitments at a hotel etc if it poses a problem - forget it. you'll never get satisfaction.

    there are people whose expectations are that low that they will except any crap they are given ior told, but in the end if you purchase a good or service you have a reasonable expectation that it will perform as promised - if not the vendor should do something about it - in Thailand there is no such guarantee - SO BEWARE!

    #20 Posted: 23/1/2010 - 14:06

  • DLuek

    TF writer
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    Location Thailand
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    I've never bought a washing machine or anything like that in Thailand, but the one time I did have to return something I had no problem whatsoever. It was a memory card for my camera in Chiang Mai - a pretty expensive memory card at that (around 1200 baht as I recall). The day after purchase I put the card in my camera and it didn't work... strangely a few of the tiny holes in the card were slightly melted together so my camera couldn't read it. I took it back to the store with no receipt at all. The woman working remembered me from the previous day and after I calmly and graciously explained the situation and showed her the defective product she gave me a new card. Mai pen rai!

    While KhunWilko's statement that there is "no guarantee" is true, I think AbgAcid's point is very valid - a smile and some calmness goes a long way in Thailand. If I had gone into that store and approached the woman in a hasty and angry manner - either when I initially made the purchase or during the return - I doubt she would have given me anything but the cold shoulder. At any rate this shows that it's not always bad news when it comes to returning defective merchandise in Thailand.

    #21 Posted: 23/1/2010 - 16:07

  • Gorey

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United Kingdom
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    In the past ive has to return or get an exchange on electrical products and furniture from various places, including Carrefour,Tesco Lotus,Big C,Index.. and have never encountered any problems least of all regarding attitude of staff. In fact i'd go as far to say that some of the best customer service i've received has been in these places. I don't go in expecting problems (like i do in england) i go in simply expecting them to fulfill either a refund/exchange. The process always involves patience, on my part mainly, but also alot of jokes and casual chat. I have witnessed crappy services for others but i also witnessed their behavior and i'd give them crappy service too.

    again in hotels when i encounter problems with my room/staff (i've had some odd run ins in the past) the hotel staff or management have always bent over backwards to accommodate this (except in one place where i was downgraded room wise and they demanded i also pay for this new room at the rack rate).

    i'd never say this way 'how it is in thailand' cause it certainly isnt, but neither is terrible service.

    #22 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 02:39

  • NormLNorma

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    Posts: 17

    Whenever I go to Thailand I'm with Thai friends or family, not always in tourist areas. I am not Thai but they take care of me so I don't tip. When one talks about low wages, you can't compare their costs what things cost elsewhere.
    I've always found Thai people to be wonderful and friendly. Of course there's going to be someone or some incident that's not typical but don't judge them all by a few. Are all Americans or all British, Germans, etc., exactly the same? You have to be nice to be treated nicely, IMO.
    As for returning things, although it can be done depending on where you bought it from however that's the Thai culture. They don't really do that so why are you complaining. When one travels or is in another country you can't expect it to be like where you come from or other places. Check before you buy and accept the way that culture is. That's why people travel, isn't it? For the experience! Not to change things to be the way you think things should.

    #23 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 09:02

  • khunwilko

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    hiding behind a "this is their culture" stance is not sufficient.

    Thailand is part of planet earth and is doing business on many levels with the rest of the world - they have to conform to the basic conventions of this culture too.
    If they wish to sell they goods and products to tourist, businesses whatever, they will have a hard time if they do not improve their customer services.

    I work for a company whose business is 100% export and everyday I'm confronted with customer service problems that simply wouldn't happen elsewhere. Some of the behaviour is quite unbelievable - what the staff will do to avoid an angry customer is astounding.

    I feel I have to repeat myself here - you really have no idea of how bad CS can be here in thailand until you actually experience it - and as with everywhere in the real world those who do are by shear probability a minority.

    HOWEVER - let me also reiterate that the experiences of others can serve as a warning - BE PREPARED - this kind of thing CAN happen to you - and no amount of saying "oh, it's only their culture" will get an equitable resolution to a problem.

    #24 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 10:32

  • khunwilko

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    Posts: 560

    Mac - the difference between Europe and Thailand is THEY MAKE TV shows about it!!! - people are concerned about CS and pick out examples of poor service - in THailand it is still not realised how damaging this is becoming.......it is just accepted that you lose money etc etc......culture? maybe...acceptable? Certainly not

    #25 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 10:35

  • NormLNorma

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    Posts: 17

    > "hiding behind a "this is their culture" stance is not sufficient."

    That is the trouble with the things today, every place is becoming (has become)ONE BIG MALL of selling the same junk in every corner of the world. What's the point of traveling to experience new places if they all look and act the same?

    When traveling one expects or SHOULD that it's not like home. We can't be so rigid and unforgiving.
    Having said that, I have been to Thailand many times and stayed longer than a few weeks at a time I have many Thai friends and have not experienced any awful ruddiness. Maybe I didn't see the way they act as being rude or it's that I can speak their language so am more friendly. It's how each of us perceives a situation. When in Thailand one should have an easy going attitude as they do.

    #26 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 14:53

  • NormLNorma

    Joined Travelfish
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    Sorry, that should say rudeness of course, haha.

    #27 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 14:58

  • khunwilko

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    this culture thing is being used as an excuse - would you say the same about female circumcision? - "oh it's their culture?" - I hope not.

    if there is something wrong in ANY culture it should be changed - not being straight in business - is WRONG

    In fact I'm not referring to Westernization or "mallification" by large commercial companies - I'm talking about the lack of common sense and skill involved when it comes to any kind of business transaction in Thailand.

    If you buy a car off someone you have every right to expect that you will be able to drive it about.
    If you buy a pair of shoes you expect to be able to walk around in them for at least a few weeks.

    if you buy a holiday "in paradise" as they are so fond of claiming - you expect it to live up to the brochure's claims

    If something gores wrong on expects the vendor to do something about it....in Thailand in an unacceptable number of cases none of this holds true.

    If it IS part of Thai culture, then it is not to be tolerated - I suspect it is not real Thai culture at all, but it is the way that the small minority in Thailand who hold virtually ALL of the wealth like to run things - their minions have no say in anything and the rules as they see it are - "if we have your money. we keep your money"

    #28 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 18:50

  • khunwilko

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    Thailand is undergoing what is in essence an industrial revolution - and this brings about changes in society - no "culture" is static and with industrialisation and urbanisation comes change - this change needs managing - law and democracy are the keys to this - but as yet the situation is unregulated and wild, yet has the facade of a fully developed society - BEWARE - you have no protection against these kinds of unscrupulous business practices and their practitioners.

    #29 Posted: 24/1/2010 - 18:54

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Wilko
    I don't disagree with any of your points (there's a first). But when protesting, I recommend you do it gently for the reasons other posters here cited.

    #30 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 09:48

  • NormLNorma

    Joined Travelfish
    24th January, 2010
    Posts: 17

    > would you say the same about female circumcision? - "oh it's their
    > culture?"

    As a matter of fact, I would. There are a lot of things various peoples in the world do that are disgusting and distasteful how do you stop all of them and just because someone thinks it's bad? Who decides what's right or wrong?

    > you have no protection

    That's RIGHT! You are in another country with other rules and regulations. If one has a problem with something a brochure says and you don't get what you expected, I'd say deal with the travel agency or that specific venue. Don't say all Thai service people are at fault.

    #31 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 14:49

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    How utterly naive!

    i look forward to another bit of Thai culture catching up with you....Karma!

    #32 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 16:27

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    PS - would you have said the activities in Germany during the second WW2 were "culture", how about Pol Pot - he was "foreign" ?????? - Ruanda etc etc all culture????-

    #33 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 16:29

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    Oh! just another thought what about cannibalism? that's "cultural"

    but how can failing to live up to your half of a deal be good? -

    You're implication seems to be that if something is "cultural" it is OK - well as you can see that is absurd - culture is not static; as society changes so does a nation's culture - and this habit of behaving inequitably in business maybe "a culture" but I'm sure there would be a lot of people inside and outside Thailand who would declare that it is an unwelcome addition to Thai culture - what would you like to see added or detracted from "THAI CULTURE"????

    I think it would help if you actually though yourself what you mean by culture - please don't debate it here - it can take a three year course to realise that it's pretty indefinable.

    #34 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 16:48

  • NormLNorma

    Joined Travelfish
    24th January, 2010
    Posts: 17

    > the activities in Germany during the second WW2 were "culture", how
    > about Pol Pot - he was "foreign"

    Aren't we being a little ridiculous? I don't think you want to hear an answer. You have a thought in your mind and nothing is going to get through to you.
    You are just picking out any old idea to be outrageous. When you can be logical someone will reply.

    #35 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 17:42

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    While Wilko's comparisons here are extreme and somewhat ridiculous (as I'm sure, well hope, is intended), his basic point is valid. In this case, using "culture" is an excuse to cover incompetence or greed. It wouldn't be happily accepted by a Thai either.

    When a culture engages in something that's basically abhorent (mass murder, oppression, etc) we have an obligation to stand up and say something, or even intervene. In Thai culture it is quite common for men to beat their children severely when they misbehave. Every year Children die from this particular cultural trait. Whether it is in the US, Thailand or Africa, when you see someone being beaten, you should intervene if you can. It's not right anywhere.

    #36 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 17:44

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    THis thread is a discussion about crappy customer service - I think that it is generally accepted world -wide that this is not good.

    Naomi Normal- has decided it's OK because "it's Thai culture" and we should accept it. i.e. accept poor quality, accept poor service accept dodgy business practices accept paying for goods that don't work, hotels that make false claims etc etc and accept the fact that if we come to Thailand people will treat us badly and show no concern for our enjoyment of our stay......well I for one can't agree....and I think others visiting this country have the right to be forewarned.

    I also don't think its an acceptable part of any culture.

    If I see something that I think is "wrong" anywhere in the world I consider it virtually my duty to comment on it.....

    Both MM and I have several years experience of living and doing business in THailand and although bad practices are by no means universal they ARE far too prevalent and as yet Thailand has shown no sign of addressing the problem in any significant of effective way.

    I say yet again BEWARE!!!

    #37 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 18:01

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    The challenge for the tourist is that, by definition, his presence is transitory, and he can be waited out. So the bottom line is, understand that when purchasing goods or services in Thailand you are at somewhat greater risk if for some reason you become disatisfied with the product.

    #38 Posted: 25/1/2010 - 18:43

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    Remeber now I was living there while you guys were in nappies. Tourist or expat it's all of a sameness.

    It's universal throughout Asia, you buy it, it's yours. Watch granny buy something, she lifts up all the pieces on top and takes one from near the bottom. The chipped, scratched and cracked ones are for sale too.

    Service people are often slow. Fine by me, they aren't working for tips. Act snooty and your lucky to get served next life, might just spit in your soup for good measure. Go someplace where the proprieter is serving and prices are cheap.

    Don't book in advance. Look at the room first, how else do you even know if the sheets are clean. Maybe it was used as a honeymoon swuite by the last short timer.

    #39 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 09:31

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Somsai you must be awfully old then. I was out of diapers about 47 years ago.

    #40 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 09:44

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    Good advice - the situation is WRONG - and there needs to be, and will be change.

    #41 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 09:46

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    "Don't book in advance. Look at the room first, how else do you even know if the sheets are clean. Maybe it was used as a honeymoon swuite by the last short timer."

    Say it isn't so...

    #42 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 09:54

  • borisborough

    Joined Travelfish
    30th November, 2009
    Posts: 21
    Total reviews: 2

    I suggest you smile, learn Thai for hello (sawatdee krup or sawatdee kaa), please (ka-ru-na), thank you (kop koon), goodbye (la gon) and try to use them. You might not sound like a native, but they'll smile at your pronunciation and appreciate your effort :-)

    #43 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 19:14

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Not to be pedantic here, but nobody uses Lagon... It has a sense of permanence that almost takes on a negative connotation.

    #44 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 21:25

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    So - when after 3 days my shower is still cold, the air-con doesn't work, the TV still isn't working , and there's an excavator on what should be the beach, I should smile and say

    "Khawp Khun Khrap"?

    #45 Posted: 26/1/2010 - 21:41

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    Mac: "Not to be pedantic here, but nobody uses Lagon... It has a sense of permanence that almost takes on a negative connotation."

    Now there is an interesting difference between Thailand and Laos. La gon is not uncommon here.

    Have to laugh. I bought a wash basin and tap "set". Of course the tap did not fit and the saleslady said, "Oh we just put it here to look nice". They finally exchanged it when after one hours wait and a refusal to leave the shop, I insisted they call the store manager during his lunch. They didn't do so, but the loss of face that would have entailed was enough to get them to exchange it. Finally! Customer service in Thailand, (and Laos), sucks. You can say as many Kob Khuns or Kob Jais as you like, it won't change matters.

    #46 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 07:22

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    "So - when after 3 days my shower is still cold, the air-con doesn't work, the TV still isn't working , and there's an excavator on what should be the beach, I should smile and say

    "Khawp Khun Khrap"?"

    No, you should have, after day one, left and gone to a place more of your liking. Because nothing you say is going to make that excavator go away.

    #47 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 11:41

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    I have actually described a semi-hypothetical situation, the problem was there were no alternatives, and the hotel knew that. As you pointed out earlier the tourist does not have time on his side........

    In conclusion - I would say that the majority of posters would agree that customer service in Thailand is not what it is in the west and can be quite deadly at times.

    So - if you are visiting thailand - BE WARNED - this sort of thing does happen - expect it sooner or later - you can put it down to experience of another culture if you like, but in the end it will be to your detriment - your holiday will be spoilt or at least the quality of your experience diminished

    #48 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 12:07

  • NormLNorma

    Joined Travelfish
    24th January, 2010
    Posts: 17

    > When a culture engages in something that's basically abhorent (mass
    > murder, oppression, etc)

    That is not culture it's politics and government. If a country invades another that's different from the people in a country living in a certain way.

    > Thai culture it is quite common for men to beat their children
    > severely when they misbehave.

    I really would like to know where you are getting your statistics for that statement. While I don't say it doesn't happen anywhere in the world and maybe even more so in some cultures than others I have not seen or heard of that being 'common' among Thai people. I have known Thai people for well over 30 years and have been there more times than I can count. I think if it was so common at least some of my friends would have mentioned it some time or another. BTW, from what I do see, Thai children are catered to and indulged if anything.

    #49 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 12:36

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 950

    Thai teachers certainly beat the crap out of Thai kids at times.

    #50 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 12:46

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    "While I don't say it doesn't happen anywhere in the world and maybe even more so in some cultures than others I have not seen or heard of that being 'common' among Thai people."

    Observation and discussion with my wife, and subsequently local police. It nearly got me in serious trouble when a man was severely beating his daughter on my street and I intervened. The mother was just shaking her head saying "she's going to go to the hospital".

    Thai society is not peaceful. It is quite violent with a fairly high homicide rate.

    #51 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 16:53

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Also, if you do an internet search on child abuse in Thailand there's quite a lot of information available.

    And Rufus is correct, until very recently teachers were allowed to, and did, beat children.

    #52 Posted: 27/1/2010 - 17:01

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Yesterday, while working the project at the temple (check this out - we finished!!! The sand filter is operational and cleaning that fulthy pond as we speak.) I needed to buy some PVC pipe and other items. Because the pipe was long and hard to manage on my motorcycle, the vendor sent his daughter with me to ride on the back of my bike and carry the pipe. That was pretty nice of him. We also got a discount off the price (which was already cheap) because we were doing the project for the temple. On top of that, I purchased two incorrect ball valves and had to bring them back and get them exchanged. He did that with no problem.

    Again, I know there are a lot of horror stories out there, but my service in dealing with this vendor has been great and this really topped it off.

    #53 Posted: 30/1/2010 - 10:53

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    The post about getting my car fixed seems to have gone missing - in the end Thailand is inexperienced at customer service - they may occasionally get it right but this is more by luck than by chance - I have had the misfortune to work in a customer service department here in Thailand and encountered both professionally and as a customer several others.
    the way things stand at present with the law and company training, the customer is on a hiding to nothing.

    Many people don't realise that customer service when easy is not really the pint - it comes into play when there problem solving is involved.

    Thailand does not have the knowledge or the training to cope with this nor does it have any consumer law to back it up.

    #54 Posted: 31/1/2010 - 14:45

  • somtam2000

    admin
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    At least 113

    khunwilko:

    I think we're talking about two different things. There are (IMO) two angles to it. Thais dealing with travellers and Thais dealing with day to day "issues"

    Chances are your average traveller isn't going to be dealing with a badly installed air-con unit, a fridge that don't work or a car with dodgy suspension (at least not an air-con unit, fridge or car that they own).

    Far more likely their experience is going to work off their experiences in guesthouses, restaurants and travel agents -- and, as anyone who has lived in Thailand for any period of time will attest, these experiences can be variable.

    However, I'd venture in businesses like the ones I mention, you'll get the same mixed bag anywhere in the world.

    I guess one can only speak from their own experiences. I lived in Thailand for seven years and travelled there regularly for close to double that length. In my experience, Thais, when they want to, can deliver a level or service unsurpassed internationally. Yes you can get a crappy busboy or a nutter cabdriver. but hey, you'll get that anywhere.

    I certain'y wouldn't charactise Thai service as crappy -- in fact I can't wai to get back there ... ten days and counting!

    #55 Posted: 31/1/2010 - 19:21

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    Totally disagree - you an't separate these things.

    Also - I don't like the argument about how long one has lived in a place - it's spurious.you can live in a country for decades and get never see beneath the surface or others cotton on fast.

    If you want to go down that track - either way I've lived here longer and been associated with the country longer than that.

    Of course you get problems else where - but As I keep saying it's the way they are handed in Thailand that sets them apart - they will do anything to avoid admitting fault of giving money back and there is absolutely NO law to speak of to help the consumer.

    How many shops in say UK or Europe would print "NO REFUND" on their receipts???

    I'm not just going by my own experiences I'm also going by working with Thai customer services - it's really quite horrific the mind set hotels, electronics goods tat tourists will get involved in, medical care, anything you care to mention - and the attitude is customer wrong first then avoid the matter all together.

    As pointed out above, with tourists the vendor has time on his side, and knows this, but this is not a thing about foreigners, Thais too have the same problems, but then there is the all pervading culture of not creating a fuss - some of the mistreatments I've seen my Thai colleagues accept - at considerable loss financially - is mind blowing - this is a culture that has grown up with Thailand's industrialization, and it needs to be curbed.
    already Thailand has a reputation as a cheap holiday with potential scams etc. If their legal system doesn't keep pace with economic and social development they are heading for trouble - in ter mean time travellers to Thailand should beware - your chances of getting your money back on anything - from a motorcar to a newspaper are minimal.

    Of course it is also worth bearing in mind that a lot of travellers to Thailand are blown away by what they see - the weather the beaches are what they dreamed about and thought they could never have afforded - the fact that they are getting second-rate accommodation in overdeveloped resorts and polluting the very place they call paradise eludes them - they are just pawns in an unregulated rush to make a fast buck.

    #56 Posted: 31/1/2010 - 20:03

  • somtam2000

    admin
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    While I agree the amount of time you live somewhere doesn't really matter, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the other points.

    I'm posting on personal experience -- and mine has been that the standard of service I've received in Thailand has been far and beyond what I've ever received in my home country (Australia). Sure I've had the occasional hiccup, but all things considered I'd say our two experiences are polar opposites.

    As far as legal protection goes, I've been personally though the IP&IT court system in Thailand and it can work. While not the same (legally speaking) as say a consumer drama, I don't think it is correct to say the legal system isn't coping.

    Otherwise, guess just agree to disagree here.

    Cheers

    #57 Posted: 31/1/2010 - 20:50

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6219
    Total reviews: 10

    Wilko
    Don't take this the wrong way (or do, I guess I don't much care) but you sound like a couple of whinging Brits we have here. Not to pick on the Brits, these two guys just happen to be Brits. But they hate Thai police, they think Thai people are stupid, they don't like Thai food ("can't get any good English food out here"), they curse the driving, they think Thai builders are "shite" (I don't know why they can't pronounce the word properly), they complain about their internet service - I don't think there's an aspect of this society that they don't complain about. But they want to live here!

    #58 Posted: 2/2/2010 - 17:35

  • bedu

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 58
    Total reviews: 15

    Quote by Rufus

    'By the way, poor customer service is the norm in Thailand; try getting a refund on defective goods that you have bought, (even at Tesco or Carrefour), and see what I mean.'

    Actually in Carrefour 2 or 3 months back, I bought a set of beer glasses and when I checked the receipt, (the quoted price was 89 baht) they had charged me 129 baht.

    Now instead of just refunding me the diference, they apologized and gave me the glasses for FREE.

    That's when I realised I should have bought 3 packs of glasses.

    Just goes to show you, the customer service mentality is arriving in Thailand, via big multi national companies.

    #59 Posted: 11/3/2010 - 10:52

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