Readers' Submissions

The “Global” Experience

  • Written by Neil
  • April 20th, 2005
  • 4 min read

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Kush House Grand opening

Anyone who has lived in Thailand and aspires to doing any home improvements or decorating will undoubtedly have come across the chain store called “Global House”. On the whole I have found them to be well stocked and very helpful if a little
misguided on occasions.

Currently I am in the middle of building a house near Roi Et. Last weekend I needed a couple of things so popped down to Global House thinking it would take 10 minutes. Wrong – 2 Hours 15 minutes later I emerged with my 2 items courtesy
of the very enthusiastic staff.

All I wanted was a black permanent marker pen and a box of the small metal clips used to hold electrical cable to the wall. Simple! No.

My first mistake was to try and be clever. Having gone to the electrical department and picked up a box of 1000 clips I noticed they also sold them in packs of 10. A quick bit of mental arithmetic told me it was cheaper to buy the small packets
so I fill up my basket. My second mistake was to pick up the last permanent marker on the shelf.

So after a quick look around and getting very tired of every member of staff saying Sawadeecap I headed for the cash till.

After another Sawadeecap the young lady empties out the basket and starts looking at the contents. After picking up several packets of clips a big smile comes across her face and she calls over another girl who rushes off and reappears
with another big smile and guess what – a big box of clips. She then explains to me this is much better. The conversation goes on for several minutes until eventually I borrow her calculator and do the maths for her to prove its cheaper to buy
the small packets. Still not convinced she and another cashier redo my maths twice and come up with the same result.

By now the queue is about 20 customers long.

At this point I have already caused her to lose some face by questioning her judgment about the big box so I get the usual “up to you” comment. Then to my utter amazement she counts each packet and checks the part number is
the same on all the packets, then, she recounts the packets then she scans each individual packets bar code and where the barcode will not scan she types in the part number. I try to ask her why she doesn’t just scan one and use the quantity
button, by my words fall on deaf ears. By now the queue is so long I can’t see the end and I have been at the till nearly 25 minutes and my bill runs to 3 pages all for about 300 baht.

At last I think to myself. OK scan the marker pen lady and I can be on my way, wrong!

First attempt to scan the pen fails, Second attempt fails, and then we input the number by hand 3 times – failed. It's obvious to me the number isn’t in the computer. A further telephone call and someone is dispatched to the marker
pen section. She arrives back two minutes later with a big smile on her face and a black “wipe board” pen. Now I know my Thai doesn’t extend to the difference between a permanent and dry wipe pen. So I spend the next five
minutes trying to explain. In the end to the girls total horror I draw on the till with both pens and then wipe one off! The penny dropped and I thought I had won – wrong.

It now appears I have the last pen in the shop and someone has deleted it from the stock system. Which means it doesn’t exist and they can’t sell it to me. Even though I have the bloody thing in my hand!

So next I try and offer 50 baht (I think its probably worth 20 but don’t care). Without the part number on the computer this is a non starter. Next I suggest very light heartedly that if it doesn’t exist I had better leave the
shop with it in my pocket. This seemed to cause total panic much to my amusement.

By now the queue must be half way around the shop and the floor manager is getting flack from the other customers so he comes over and the problem is explained to him by four different ladies, he is shown the receipt and he tries to scan
the pen again then he is shown both types of pen. Another 5 minutes discussion and 3 phone calls later and guess what.

With a big smile on his face I am told, Its Songkran I can have the pen as a free gift. – Thank you and I am on my way 2 hours 15 minutes later.

The only problem now is to explain to the Mrs. where I have been. She will never believe me.

Only in Thailand.

Happy Songkran!!

Stickman's thoughts:

Great story, but it does demonstrate how simple things can become arduous in Thailand.