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Crappy Service in Thailand

They call it the land of smiles and a tourist coming to Thailand would think that the service in Thailand is exceptional and well it is if your a tourist! If you stay in a 3+ star hotel eat at the farang restaurants and visit the local tourist attractions as most tourists do in Thailand you'll get exceptional service well actually exceptional is probably going a bit too far but you'll get the smiles that Thailand has built it's reputation on.

However when you step away from the tourist traps you rent an apartment and live amongst the Thai's you'll begin to learn the truth behind the smile and in fact the smiles are no longer to be seen. The smiles are now replaced by frowns and attitudes and people standing around talking to their peers more interested in the latest topic than they are serving you!

I never used to think about service that was until I moved to America and learned what true service is like. Thing about the USA is they realise it's a service industry and so the service must be exceptional. Go to a restaurant in the USA and you'll have the manager come to your table and ask you personally if everything is OK and to your liking go to a restaurant in Thailand have a problem and ask for the manager (oh he's not working tonight).

crappy service in Thailand

To say Thai's don't tip is total BS they do tip, especially in pub/restaurants it may not be much but they do. In fact if you come to Chiang Mai the waiters and waitresses in pubs/clubs in Chiang Mai earn a paltry 3-5000 baht a month! Honestly that's not enough to live off they actually need the tips to survive yet they give the crappiest service you can think of then ask why they don't get more tips!

Take my ex for example, she got a job down at the Sukahsem Cafe which has some of the crappiest service of any pub in Chiang Mai. She would make over 500 baht a night in tips while her peers were lucky to make 50 baht. Yet they all asked her why she would get lots and they didn't. Because she learned from me about service and about what I hate to see she made sure the customers saw it. Yet she and I for that matter would tell them how and what to do but they would just nod and say "yeah yeah yeah" you know it's going through one ear and out the other and still complain that they don't get tips.

Pubs especially are built on service and just because you got a girl with nice long legs in a short skirt isn't enough Thai's should learn that the better service they provide the more customers they bring in and the better the tips are for the waiters. Another great example is a place I go all the time, Blah Blah Blah. Now if I go in there the girls there know me and the guys working do too. It's kinda like an acquaintance deal and so they are happy to serve me and joke around. Yet my mate went there and no one knows him and they just were not interested fucked up his order and wouldn't poor his drinks. The same people who ask me how to get more tips! Again in one ear out the other.

Now me I'm the worst customer you'll ever meet. I hate when things are really stupid like the apartment complex that asks for a 6000 baht deposit if you stay one month and a 12000 baht deposit if you stay two months! I know it's not the girls at the counter fault but in part it is see they wouldn't dare to question the owner after a hundred people walk in and say it's stupid they just keep going with it explaining the same stupidity over and over again. Or how about at Infinity when I asked the waiter for an itemized bill and they come back and gave me the bill with just the total on it once I'd given him a 200 baht tip in the hand! I hate stupidity like this as much as I hate poor service.

Talk about poor service and stupidity rolled into one in Thailand. How about you go to the local language school and get an ED visa for a year and then they try to explain to you over the course of an hour in broken language the steps and what you gotta do next. And you come out and you still have no idea what to do where the hell the embassy is in Kuala Lumpar how to get there what times you need to go for how many photo's you need to take to immigration overseas as well as here, the fees etc what a bloody joke. If that was me working there I'd have it all written down hand it to the Farang and say got any further questions come and talk to me. But that's the thing about Thailand is improving service is not a priority to most companies because in Thailand it has to come from the top down it can't come from the bottom up. If the customer service clerk wishes for improvement they wait for it to happen instead of having the initiative and motivation to make it happen themselves.

Anyone else agree or disagree? Any service horror stories?

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

21 Responses to Crappy Service in Thailand

  1. Bob June 22, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Stop teaching them how to improve their income. Keep ’em lean and keen!

  2. ChiangMaiGuy June 22, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Comment about the rooms:

    Not sure I get you there Chris? I own several rooms and IF a room is 3,000 baht (mine are from 7,500 to 32,000 and I normally only rent out for one year at a time) then it’s standard to ask for 2 months rent (6,000) as deposit if it’s a one year contract OR one month rent if it’s a one month contract and two months rent two month contract and up – why?

    1/ people scratch and ruin furniture, fixtures and fittings
    2/ people leave and don’t pay the rent
    3/ people run up big bills (like electric and Truevision) and don’t pay

    I have one customer at the moment who is paying 30,000 a month and will lose nearly ALL of his 60,000 deposit because there is so much damage – I have to get the room back up to the perfect standard it was before he rented it for the next tenant. So I’m not sure it was an example of ‘crappy service’ unless I have not understood your experience.

    Apart from this there is crappy service everywhere and I’m almost used to it (unfortunately).

    I may have not got what you were trying to say – sorry if that’s the case. Can you explain a little more what you mean?

    • Chris June 22, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Since you rent out your places and your a farang you won’t get it because you wouldn’t do stupid shit like this.

      I took a guy to an apartment yesterday. They said it’s 6500 baht a month and 6000 baht deposit. for 6 months it’s 5000 baht a month and 10000 deposit and for 2 months it’s 6500 baht a month and 12000 baht deposit. So I told the guy just sign the contract for a month and towards the end of the month tell them you’ll stay for another month that way he only has to pay a 6000 baht deposit instead of saying he’s going to stay 2 months and pay a 12000 baht deposit. Stupid.

      • ChiangMaiGuy June 23, 2012 at 6:33 am #

        haha right that is stupid 😀

      • Buttercup June 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

        It works only if no one else come before the end of the month to book the appartment. If it happens your guy has to find a new appartment.

      • Brian Sumpter June 28, 2012 at 10:14 am #

        They don’t seem to understand “wear and tear’ here. (normal wear and tears is the owners responsibility in the US) A gut just checked out here, and they wanted 5000 to buy a new mattress. How is that not normal wear and tear? And the mattresses generally are really bad, I’ve paid 3,600 for pads to make mine softer, and its barely good enough. But there are problem landlords (and tennants) back in the states.

        The toilet seats are generally loose and subject to breakage, almost everywhere, except the nice hotels. They should be checked each time a tennant moves.

        A real peeve is ordering hamburgers where they have no mustard! A resturaunt in CM near night market had yellow bottles, so I thought it was ok, but found it was full of mayo! Check first!

        I agree about the service. Even in good resturaunts in Pattaya its crappy. The only time I get good service is if I’m buying drinks for a bar girl! (or the bartender) They don’t look to see if your drink is empty, and its hard to their attention. One nice resturaunt had the little front desk bells. Worked very well!

  3. charlieboz June 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    When you give an order at a restaurant and you can see that they don’t understand and are going to mess it up. SO you go through it again, ask them if they have written it down, and they still get it wrong. Then act like it is your fault??? Took me ages to just get to the ‘mai pben arai’ place and just move on like I do now

    • Brian Sumpter June 28, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      Thai gf comes in very handy for this.

  4. American June 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    I have never paid 2 months deposit plus the rent. I did pay 1.25 months deposit once. Note they all asked for 2 months, I just didn’t agree and let them decide. I am sure on a 6000 baht a month place they would be more sticky about 2month deposit. Also, note I have always verified that if I left the place as it was and had it cleaned before I left, would I get 100% of my deposit back. If they where shakey, slow, shifty, etc. I just walked away as this seems to be a normal scam.

    But on topic. I tip very little. I tip change. Something like…. the 1-4 baht change in a taxi under about 150b. Change or at least 5b if the food is over 100b. In a club with a 1000b tab I’ll do the change plus 50-100b IF the service was like it should be where my drink never goes half empty, and I can get thirsty. Essentially, local stuff like pad thai and water at a sitdown stand, whats the purpose of a tip? You don’t tip at McDonalds. But at a club or some place where someone is waiting on us and just a few other tables and they are on their toes, yes why not. I like To Insure Promptness on my next outting and they usually remember me and I must be better than locals otherwise they wouldn’t treat me so well.

  5. Quick Question June 23, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    I notice that Thailand seems to like where they stand at the moment. I’m not seeing much improvement in service or quality, but I see a raise in pricing. This is unfortunate because surrounding countries are quickly catching up with advances in technology, service, and businesses and may surpass Thailand within the next 20 years.

    • Chris June 23, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      I think Vietnam will overtake Thailand in the next 5 years.

  6. Charles Rahm June 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I live in Bangkok now. Every day there is something not alright. My personal nightmare is getting enough of the 6 liter Nestle water (cuz it’s the best). It’s always out of stock or maybe one or two available and noone would ever have the idea to order a little more of it?
    Everyday there is something. But I know already, that complaining is useless. May pen ray. Just sometimes my temper still heats up.
    But I guess it will never change, cuz if the economy goes down they will just go to the temple and ask Buddha for good luck instead of analysing the root of the problem. 🙂

    • jefke June 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      There are many things out of stock in Thai supermarkets. For many products the demands are higher than the production capacity. I think this is typical for a fast growing economy. Everyone becomes much more rich and the lives of many Thai people greatly improved in the last 10 years. Just look at the increase of the number of cars on the Thai roads and you can conclude you live in a country with a booming economy. Shortages in certain products and high inflation are an unpleasant consequence of that. 12 year ago I paid for a simple meal about half of what I pay today. Sometimes this evolution makes me worried.

  7. Johnnie Walker June 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Annoys me that they will not/cannot take a room deposit by holding a credit card no. Have to pay in cash. Then on check out day, quite possibly leaving the country, suddenly you’ve got xxx thousand bht in your pocket just when you don’t want or need it.

    Have you noticed how Thai waiters/waitresses will look anywhere and everywhere except towards your table?

  8. Terry Uk June 28, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    I spend about 8 months of the year in Thai it never change’s the don’t care attitude where ever you go to eat to drink pub or club, the mess in the street’s the beach’s yes the wage’s are not good but a little service would at least get them a good tip at the end.

    They ask budda to give to them but all the monk’s do is is prey on the poor hard working people to give more money in the hope that budda will make it right for them a better life.

    • Brian Sumpter June 28, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      The monks make people feel better and teach people how to meditate. My wife likes to “go nun” when she can. Its free to stay at the wats for several days. They ask for an offering of food, but only on DMC channel have they ever asked for more. One time for help with a building here in Pattaya, but they need more Wats here. Its mostly bar girls who don’t want to talk about buddha, because it makes them feel guilty.
      Its actually good karma they pray for, but the easy english for that is luck. Not same same.

  9. Brian Sumpter June 28, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Something wrong with the comments, some do not post and a bunch of script comes up after submit.

    • Chris June 28, 2012 at 10:37 am #

      I’ll look into it thanks.

  10. lexluthor May 17, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Chris do you tip in Thailand if so how much.

    • Chris May 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      I do if i get good service, typically 20-50 baht 100 baht sometimes if i get really good service.

      • Johnnie Walker May 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

        Think your 100 bht notes will be quite safe in your pocket most places then 😉

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