A group of us recently booked accommodation with the "ROSE GUEST HOUSE" in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Due to personal reasons, we had to leave Chiang Mai 4 weeks early. Perviously we booked our rooms and to ensure the rooms were reserved for us, we paid in full and cash. We approached the owners with our matter and in the beginning we didn't intend to receive a refund although as soon as we mentioned we were cancelling, they were VERY RUDE. They continued to be quite volatile, using offending gestures and SHOCKING ENGLISH language such as, "piss off" and "f**k off". We asked the couple to be fair and understand our situation and refund half the money seens we had given 5 days notice, for their benefit, and had paid in full. In the end, we left appalled at the way we were treated and how terrible their business was ran. Although the prices were reasonable, it's the service that matters. We were not informed that we couldn't get a refund. For your own benefit, we advise you to stay elsewhere. Have fun in Chiang Mai and keep safe.
#1 hayleymn has been a member since 16/2/2007. Posts: 1
The concept of getting your money back for anything already paid doesn't really exist in Thailand. Try buying something at Central Chidlom in BKK and then return it the next day (f.e. a pair of pants). Where the day before you were the highly valued commission bringing customer now you'll have accusation after accusation heaped on you by the same (underutilized) staff. "You washed this!!" "No, I didn't."
In Business Writing at BU I once had to teach a lesson that involved the concept of receiving a refund for a damaged item. Can you say non-comprehension? In Thailand after you've given the money, you might as well forget it!
Try it with other guesthouses and you'll see that it's a cultural thing. They don't mind if you never come back. At least they got your money.
"At least you got your money"
It's not clear whether they got a refund or not.
Haleymm, it seems to me that either you were incredibly naive or you aren't telling the whole story.
What on earth possessed you to pay up front and in advance for such a long period??? How long were you planning to stay in total?
It's very unusual to pay in advance for more than a night or two for guest house accommodation in Thailand ... especially in Chiang Mai where there's a plethora of good value accommodation.
The only circumstances I can think of where you'd pay in advance as you did would be if you were getting a massive discount .... and then that money would be likely to be considered non refundable by the guest house.
#2 that is so true .they have no idea of repeat business and only looking how much they can make today
#4 dixonstreet has been a member since 7/6/2008. Posts: 10
"The concept of getting your money back for anything already paid doesn't really exist in Thailand."
Exactly, any thai can tell you this. If a product is faulty they will give you a replacement but money back not likely. Once you buy you buy. Paying weeks in advance is just plain silly.
Some Ghs give discounts if you stay for 5 nights or more but paying 4 weeks in advance is not wise.
Why would you want to stay that long in chiang mai anyway? It's grossly overtouristed.
#5 travelrock has been a member since 19/4/2008. Posts: 209
Customer service in Thailand does not exist....or at best it is in it's infancy. Time and again people believe that the service offered is amazing and leave after having a wonderful time.
What they fail to see is what happens if/when something goes wrong........you have experienced this.
i think people should be much more aware of the problems that will arise if you you feel that a good or service is not up to expectations.....you really have no comeback in Thailand...the situation of "caveat emptor" weighs heavily in favour of the vendor.....the punter has virtually no chance at all.
#6 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
I suggest 'caveat emptor' is not limited to Thailand.
For most SE Asian nations, once the money changes hands, its 'final'.
That said, some 'operators' do look after people. And, some are amenable to change if they either incur no loss &/or make more money.
In SE Asia, ALWAYS part with your money on the basis that the transaction is FINAL!
"Customer service in Thailand does not exist....or at best it is in it's infancy. Time and again people believe that the service offered is amazing and leave after having a wonderful time."
I have to disagree with this. I find customer service in Thailand to be exceptional. This does not, of course, include service AFTER The transaction is complete. But if you go to a store rare is the day you are ignored (like in Germany) and at restaraunts, while language can create difficulties, otherwise it's outstanding.
As for refunds, I think if you live here that's an advantage. I have gotten refunds and exchanges. On two occassions I have had people here try and rip us off (and once succeeded). But the electric store that ripped us off was never forgiven by my wife, and she tells anyone and everyone who'll listen that the proprietor is a cheat. The other guy was a conrtractor and we did not give him the contract, so he just lost the buisiness.
But I suppose if you don't live in the town in questin or it's a big city where you are just another face, then getting a refund is a problem.
You kind of miss the point - your examples show the kind of crap business practices that are still quite common around Thailand - as I said earlier - people come and leave Thailand with the impression that the service is wonderful - like you say too - but Customer service extends beyond the product or service offered to AFTER SALES - there is no consumer law worth mentioning in Thailand and the results for those who fall foul can be anything from a little frustrating to downright alarming.
Good and bad service can be found world-wide. Your German example is a waste of breath. What happens in Thailand is they claim all sorts of crap they simply can’t live up to......typically it's ALL FACE - just like the lobbies of hotels, hospitals etc - they are palatial - but the reality of the rooms and service is quite different.
Low wages in Thailand mean that it is possible to have all sorts of staff running around doing all sorts of menial tasks that in Europe would be priced out by the wage factor - but if there is a PROBLEM - that is where the trouble starts.
Now I make a fair amount of money every year in discounts, bargaining etc, and if customer service isn't fair and reasonable I go for the jugular - but I'm GOOD at it and have the experience to know how to get what I want - most people on holiday, apart from being taken by surprise by the utter blatancy of it all, simply don't have the time/language/local knowledge to get a result....It's the same in industry, I've even done a bit of consultancy work for Thai companies who are worried by their customers' repeated disappointment with their services. They really don't have a clue what they are doing.
As for getting refunds – I get LOADS all over the world (I’ve just got a 2500 baht reduction on a 4500 baht item because it was the wrong colour) – but the attitude in Thailand is NEGATIVE...in most countries Europe/States/ Australia the attitude is
“Sorry how can we help?”...in Thailand it is “What have you done” – the customer is ALWAYS wrong – you can prove this otherwise if you have the time, temperament and inclination but that is your starting point – and that is NOT the case elsewhere these days – Thailand lags behind BIG-TIME on this.
You can shout “caveat emptor” all you like but the fact remains that this is old hat and to your average tourist quite unacceptable – especially as these holidays are often paid for at least in part in the country of origin.
It’s not limited just to the tourist trade it permeates all of Thai business; I deal with customer service in Thailand on a day to day basis, and it often leaves me speechless – it also worries me that people don’t seem to realise how easily they could become a victim of Thai customer carelessness and end up in serious trouble. Check out a few hospitals (yes – even the “good” ones) – the horror stories they can provide would turn your hair grey!
#9 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
I guess it depends on how you define "customer service". I agree that after the sale is done, that usually means it's done. And that is one important aspect of customer service. But having lived in Germany for a very long time, one of the things I enjoy in Thailand is sitting down at a restaraunt and having someone walk up with a smile as soon as I am seated. This aspect of customer service is lacking back home - where the waitress or waiter is running around waiting on a lot of tables and doesn't have much time or energy for pleasantries.
So I would say Thailand lags in certain areas, but does well in others. Or, put in other language, from a customer service standpoint I would rather go out to eat here than anywhere else.
When you mention one thing - waiting in a German restaurant it is really not a comparison - You are actually only comparing oranges and apples - the malaise is far more serious than that in Thailand.
I lived and worked all over Western Europe for 3 decades and the difference is huge. I took non- European-based business people on buying trips around Europe. I used to have to stay at both 4 and 5 star AND no-star hotels, and lived off hotel food.
Even BEFORE problems start – Thailand really has no concept of customer service – fawning and grovelling maybe, but service – not really. Slavery is a thing of the recent past in Thailand and coupled with low wages for working people it means that many businesses can employ people to do absurdly menial tasks that were priced out of the market decades ago in the west. The result is vast numbers of completely untrained people doing ridiculous “courtesy” jobs that are so menial they remind one of slavery. (the sex trade is another example of this).
I actually hate the way that most Thai businesses think that standing next to your customer as soon as he appears is customer service. I really annoys me for instance in a restaurant when I'm reading the menu that some nit has to stand there while I and the others have a five minute conference about what we want - and then doesn't go and get the drinks straight away but tries to get the food order as well!
In electrical shops spotty teenagers who know nothing about the products follow me around whilst I try to concentrate on the products instead of the mewling and platitudes of a moron trying to distract me with some completely unrelated product.
As for waiting in German restaurants, I guess I’ve experienced that in almost every country from time to time – but I don’t think it is a good example of customer service quality.
Imagine if you got food poisoning in that German restaurant – you could report it and the place would be checked by the local Health and Hygiene officials – in Thailand???? – You’d just get blank stares!
Of course you might just be the kind of person that waiters ignore!
#11 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
In the end customer service is NOT what you offer - that is really your product - it is down to how you handle your customers - this is only tested when things go wrong or something changes - as in the OP.
#12 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
wow! i think wilko is spot-on accurate here and spells it out exceptionally clearly.
i can see MADMAC's point of how nice it is to be greeted immediately and to have loads of staff to provide lots of attention while dining, for example. but lots of attention isn't necessarily customer service either. i can think of many many times where the thai waitstaff had no idea what was on the menu or available that day or what things cost, etc.
where i think wilko really makes the case are the comments on what customer service means and how most thai businesses are completely unable to help you after the sale or if a problem arises. plus, the staff at most places is not at all empowered to assist if there is a problem. the only exception i can think of are a few jewelry shops and tailor shops that cater almost exclusively to foreign tourists and the expat community and rely on their reputation for future business.
having said all that, its also important to remember that the way to get help with a problem in thailand is quite different from back home too. demanding a solution won't work. it's that famous combination of patience and humour that helps get problems solved. cheers.
Exacto - YES - how you deal with the problem is crucial. I have had great success in Thailand when it comes to solutions but I don't just look for refunds etc - you need to be creative and decide first what will solve the problem for you...and them!
I live here and have time on my side, I also am familiar - to a certain extent - with the way business is conducted in Thailand and this helps to avoid confrontation in the first place. I also choose my "issues" carefully.
#14 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
exacto, I'm with khunwilko as well.
S/he so accurately describes the circumstances. And, the description not only in Thailand. In relation, Laos is so far worse, and Vietnam a little worse.
Malaysia is somewhat better in that the 'attendants' have a little more knowledge of product and customer need: but even there, they are paid to stay with the (potential) customer. In retail shops, at least the Malaysian 'system' inhibits (the massive western problem of) shoplifting.
Well, again, as with Motorcycles and food, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I think the definition of customer service you are using is too narrow - ignores what Thais do well (or even portrays them as negatives) and emphasizes what they don't do well.
It's very rare for a good criticism to be offset by a description of the good achievements.
Normally, the critic argues the case, and lets it rest as is.
I suggest that khunwilko's criticism typifies much that is SE Asian 'service'.
Maybe it's up to you to highlight the alternate case.
I thought I did. But as you can see, Wilko rejects those aspects (or even denigrates them).
My wife and I went shopping in Germany once at a large store in Germany for a washing machine, as mine had crapped out. We were looking at different models, no sales representative in sight. Finally one comes walking by and I ask "Excuse me, is there someone who could help us with the purchase of a washing machine?" "No" was the reply as they just kept walking on. My wife just walked out and we went to a small mom and pop shop to by the washing machine. She was furious. I consider this part of "Customer service" but obviously Wilko does not. In Thailand I would have someone falling all over themselves to help me out - even if they didn't have a lot of expertise.
There was a TV Show in Germany (I can't remember the name anymore) that discussed this very topic - surly service personnel. And during the show they were interviewing service personnel and how to deal with customers. Question: "Do you think it's important to be friendly with customers?" Answer: "Yes. I think it's very important for the customers to be friendly."
"coupled with low wages for working people it means that many businesses can employ people to do absurdly menial tasks that were priced out of the market decades ago in the west. The result is vast numbers of completely untrained people doing ridiculous “courtesy” jobs that are so menial they remind one of slavery. (the sex trade is another example of this)."
I think this quote says a lot:
1. It uses the western comparison as the yard stick.
2. It assumes that the menial tasks (like actually coming to service the customer) has no or little value.
3. It assumes that this is linked to the sex industry (when actually the sex industry is linked to economics - everywhere in the world).
It is basically saying that there is only one yard stick, he has it, all others are wrong.
Culturally Germans are rude people, but in the service industry this tends to the extreme.
I've has issues with rental cars and motor-bikes among other things and from my experience, as long as you allow the Thai to 'Save Face' and express your dissapointment that their promises where not met (smiling of course) you will usually get helped.
As someone who is of (amongst others)German heritage I have to take issue with the Xenophobic comments above.
Germans are in general VERY formal especially when first meeting, and regard people who walk into their business premises without saying the right pleasantries as rather rude - I think that despite your time spent in foreign parts little of their culture seems to have sunk in.
It is also worrying that you see a lot of these in terms of Xenophobia. I don’t believe that Thailand is the only place where this sort of stuff occurs, but this is a Thai forum and it is a part of Thai business culture that people who visit the country may be un-aware of. It is really due to the law and the fact that Thailand is a developing nation and needs still to develop its business practices to get in step with its customers. However people who come to thailaand expecting the same standard as Germany or their home country may well be disappointed.
Rating about a small incident in a German restaurant that you probably brought on yourself is neither here nor there.
#20 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
"As someone who is of (amongst others)German heritage I have to take issue with the Xenophobic comments above."
Commenting on cultural traits, either positive or negative, is not xenophobic.
"Germans are in general VERY formal especially when first meeting, and regard people who walk into their business premises without saying the right pleasantries as rather rude - I think that despite your time spent in foreign parts little of their culture seems to have sunk in."
My son is German. I was married to a German for three years. I served in the German Army for five years. I lived in Germany for ovr 16 years. Get real here.
"It is also worrying that you see a lot of these in terms of Xenophobia. I don’t believe that Thailand is the only place where this sort of stuff occurs, but this is a Thai forum and it is a part of Thai business culture that people who visit the country may be un-aware of. It is really due to the law and the fact that Thailand is a developing nation and needs still to develop its business practices to get in step with its customers. However people who come to thailaand expecting the same standard as Germany or their home country may well be disappointed."
Of course they might. Just as Thais going to Germany will be disappointed by some things in Germany (like my Thai wife was - although she loves Germany). Every place isn't the same. Different places obviously have different cultural norms. Some you will like, some you won't. I maintain some aspects of Thai service you will like, some you won't.
"Rating about a small incident in a German restaurant that you probably brought on yourself is neither here nor there."
I lived in Germany for 16 years. The traits I have obverved here are traits that my MANY German friends fully agree with. It's part of being German that many Germans don't like. There is nothing xenophobic about it.
All that contact and you still learned nothing?
...I think you are inherently unable to make objective rationalisations about culture.......
#22 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
"All that contact and you still learned nothing?
...I think you are inherently unable to make objective rationalisations about culture......."
One of my best friends is as German as German can be. Grew up in Augsburg, has lived in southern Germany his whole life - only travelled outside Europe twice in his life. I e-mailed him and asked him if I was wrong in my observations about German cultural traits. "Nope - exactly right". Imagine that, he's German and he knows nothing about his own culture. But you are the master of it. Right.
QED - you have completely gone off subject just to air your own prejudices and ignorance and obvious inability to make any educated judgements about Thai society or any other society for that matter...
"one of my best friends" - you DO realise what that sounds like ????
I'm not getting involved in your childish concepts about customer service as it is obviously a subject that goes way over your head.
#24 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
THose around me? or just some in particular? ....now why would you think that?
#26 khunwilko has been a member since 27/1/2007. Posts: 560
This is the dumbest discussion on this entire site. You all need to get out a lot more. perhaps do some traveling.
#30 whiteelephant has been a member since 22/7/2009. Posts: 15
"This is the dumbest discussion on this entire site."
You think so? Personally I thought the trip report that had some guy living in a hut without electricity in a homestay where alcohol wasn't allowed and showering in an ice cold stream and waxing about it like it was great was the dumbest discussion I ever saw.
But I'll admit this one is in the ball park.