Readers' Submissions

Consumer Protection in Thailand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • July 30th, 2007
  • 5 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


Suppose that you were sitting at home in America and read in the newspaper that in Bloomfield, New Jersey, ninety percent of the businesses in that town were cheating their customers. You wouldn’t believe it. An absurd misprint.

And if you lived in England and you read that in Bath or Brighton the same thing was happening. Ridiculous nonsense of course.

I was reading the Bangkok Post Newspaper on Thursday July 19th and came across the following headlines, 90% of Businesses in Ayutthaya Exploiting Customers.’

Was I surprised? Not one bit. Living in Phuket I am quite accustomed to having the locals short change you at every chance they get. It was later when I read the entire story that I was amazed.

Ayutthaya is a town famous for tourism. Jeeze, what a licking those visitors must be getting, I thought. All of those sightseers being taken for a ride both literally and figuratively. It was when I read the entire story that I was taken aback.

All of that fraudulence was for the most part Thai on Thai. The Office of the Consumer Protection Board has found that the list of misdeeds was headed by housing estate projects and developers. Well, of course, they had to be first.

There were failed promises made in advertisements regarding the quality of construction and building materials.

Many buyers made the down-payment and then could not get a loan because the developer was in financial trouble or had mortgaged the land to the hilt or were not even the real owners. Not surprising if you live here.

Next on the list were gold shops with the buyers being short-changed on the gold content or the weight of the items they bought.

And I imagined this only happened in Bangkok with tourists in gem shops.

Also on the list were vendors of motorcycles and used cars who overstated the quality of the vehicle and often changed the specifications without telling the buyer. Car owners complained that repair shops refused to release their vehicles after the work was finished because the insurance companies failed to pay.

I can’t say that it made me feel any better to see that the thieves are equally opportunity crooks swindling anyone that lives here, Thai and visitor alike.

In Phuket where I live, there are many condominium projects being built, many inland and some really expensive ones on Chalong Bay and the West coast of the island. Buy Now’ they all proclaim and some have sales offices on the premises even though the project is hardly started. I would think this is akin to playing Russian roulette with your money.

Some inland developments have already stopped dead, cement shells waiting like ghosts to come back to life – if ever.

On a smaller scale, this past April, I paid my rent two and a half years in advance, having some extra cash and wanting to build a swimming pool in my yard next to the house. I received a lease and then left for Spain on vacation for two weeks to see the bullfights in Seville. Imagine my surprise when I returned home to see a huge red for sale sign on my front gate.

I immediately found my landlord to determine what was going on.

My partner wants to sell the property but you may stay until we sell.’

What about my rent?'

My partner has your rent and he has gone to Udon and if you can find him, you can ask him.’

Boy was I fuming. I doubted that he even had a partner. My first stop was the police station. Wrong move. Not their business.

I went to a lawyer who said there was nothing he could do now but when they tried to sell or have sold the property he would put a lien against them. On the other hand he said that going to court was like jumping into a swimming pool of wet cement.

One may well become stuck solid before reaching the other side. An appropriate phrase under the circumstances.

Oh yes, my landlord said no sense in my building a pool now.

I don’t feel all that bad as an expat built a beautiful home last year about two blocks away from me on a quiet street.

He has at least a rai of land and the house must be worth or was worth twenty million baht I would say.

One morning he woke up to find a four storey cement structure going up right next door to him. Small apartments, about a hundred of them with little parking which leads me to believe this will be low rent Thai housing. Wonderful.

All those people looking down on his yard, hanging out their laundry, having all night parties and playing music into the wee hours of the night. There is a for sale sign on the man’s house already.

More news from Rawai and this the from The Phuket Gazette Newspaper.

An expat bought a house two years ago in a residential neighborhood. He was sure his property would appreciate in value.

His next door neighbor just built an ugly green fifteen to twenty meter tall structure to attract and farm swiflet birds in order to harvest their nests for profit. Can you imagine the noise, the odor. The paper goes on to say that the OrBor Tor who is responsible for issuing building permits in Rawai, says, It is not illegal to build a bird’s nest tower in Rawai.

Possibly we can talk with the owner about improving the structure so it looks more appealing.

I really had to laugh at that last statement, more appealing with hundreds of squawking birds next door to you?

Oh yeah, one more thing. Welcome to Thailand.

Stickman's thoughts:

Stickman 101: Rent, Don't Buy!

One thing I do have to add though is that all of the scams that farangs complain about – Thais suffer from just as much – and this seems to be lost on the average farang. Ever notice how your teeruk insists on checking the bill whenever you go to pay in a restaurant? That should tell us something!