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Happy in Thailand (Well almost) Part 11




Workmanship

There is a total lack of skills. When you go into a hotel, no matter what the star rating, look at the finish on the woodwork, the tiling, the electrics, the plumbing and even if it's not downright shoddy you will realise it could be better. Quality control is non existent or done by someone with a white stick and a guide dog.

We had a wall built round the house about a metre high and it was 6 cm out of vertical. Of course I told them that I didn't want the guy back who'd done it (I'd had problems before with bad workmanship and lack of care) and to take it down and start again. Farang bad man again.

A few months after I bought my Phantom motorcycle it started showing corrosion on the anodising on the front forks but I thought I'd leave it to later in the warranty in case it was an inherent fault (try and get something fixed twice on warranty? I don't think so). I bought the bike in Bangkok and I was now in K so even though there are Honda dealers they don't want to do warranty work unless the bike was bought there. I found the main dealer and I think they had something to do with the shop in Bangkok because they agreed to do it. The bottoms of the forks are anodised aluminium and the tops have chrome sleeves and they were just going to change the bottom part. I also had a few other jobs done, the back tyre had been punctured and the repair there is to glue some hessian rope in the hole, not good if you're travelling at 120 km/h, so I had the tyre changed, steering head bearings changed (they couldn't even recognise there was a problem with these), chain tensioned, serviced (that’s a joke, oil changed I should have said).

When I collected the bike, they said try it so I took it on the road and I hadn't gone more than a hundred yards before I realised something was wrong. Back to the shop and checked the back wheel and yes, sure enough they hadn't seated the tyre properly on the rim so it was elliptical. They took it away and I tried it again when they came back. Christ! It was like riding on glass. Back to the shop and checked the tyre pressure. They had put 80 PSI in to seat the tyre but hadn't thought to take it back down to the correct pressure. When I got the bike home I checked it over, should have done this better at the shop, and noticed that the chrome sleeves on the forks were all gouged and distorted. You get the picture? No skills and a total lack of care.

I took it back to the shop and eventually they agreed to do it and they made it look better (in UK they wouldn't have f—-d it up like that but if they had had so much trouble they would have rung you and said we have a problem and need to change these as well). I wasn't happy but accepted it because I knew I wouldn't get any better. A few weeks later I started having the same trouble with the steering head bearings and as the shop who repaired it for me wouldn't deal with me again (see below) we took it to another guy who used to work at the Honda shop but now worked for himself. He got a big adjustable spanner to slack the chrome nut on the steering head. Hold on there, if you use that you'll damage the chrome (bastards at the other shop had already done that with some). He got the idea and then tightened the steering head down.

After a few months I had the same problem so I took it to another Honda dealer but they weren't prepared to do it (maybe my reputation preceded me) so I got them to order more bearings and prepared to do the work myself. When the parts arrived I went to collect them and they said they would fit them now. OK, fair enough but I insisted on being there to supervise. So me and this Thai guy changed the bearings together. There was actually nothing wrong with the existing except that the bastards at the other shop hadn't seated the bearing cups and as I was riding they were gradually seating themselves but I didn't want to dismantle it without having the parts there. Anyway we did it and the guy was happy that I'd been there and helped him.

When we bought E's bike they put air in the tyres, no pressure gauge, and I asked what the pressure was in the tyre. They didn't have one in the shop. Now I don't know if you know or not but there is a specified pressure because it's dangerous to ride otherwise. If the tyres are too soft the car or bike rolls on the road or bends and if too hard you lose grip. If you have a vehicle I would advise you to buy a pocket pressure gauge. I saw a girl going down the road on a brand new scooter and the front wheel was bouncing on the road. Either the shop never road tested it or the mechanic was too stupid or just didn't care. Obviously no oil in the front dampers and again this is dangerous because if you hit a bump on a corner the wheel leaves the road.

After E's accident we took her bike to the shop that had made a mess of mine. I warned her about it but they said they would make it like new and that's what she wanted. All it really wanted was a little rub with fine emery and some colour coded touch up paint. This was the main Honda dealer so of course they would have the colour coded paint. How wrong I was. We went to collect her bike and they had sprayed all the red parts of the bike, even the undamaged and it wasn't a Honda colour and had that matt effect you get from an aerosol. Now this scooter was less than a month old so I wasn't a happy chappie. When we pointed out the problem they said we should get some paste and lap it in. Well this boy hit the roof big time. If they had said they couldn't match the paint we would have ordered new panels. I demanded to see the manager who they said was not there. I barged into the office and demanded to see the manager. Not here. By this time E was interpreting. I demanded an appointment to see the manager. Blank looks. I don't think they'd ever seen anyone as angry as I was then. We eventually found out when the manager would be there and we went to see him with both bikes and a letter of complaint that I said I was going to send to Honda. We showed him what the problems were and he agreed to fix them buck shee. It cost me 800 baht because when I barged into the office a door was damaged but I considered it good value. I was told later that the guy who did it had to pay for the parts himself and I went back to the shop prepared to reimburse him because I know they don't earn a lot but they wouldn't let me back in. No loss, I wouldn't have trusted them to do anything again without me being there anyway.

My ignition switch packed in and wouldn't turn off the engine so I ordered a new one from the shop that did the steering head with me. When it came I took the bike in for them to fit it and they didn't have the required torque wrenches. Now this is a Honda dealer and they don't have the tools! I bought some myself and then went back to the shop. TIT.

You get the picture? Thailand is a beautiful place but we farangs are spoiled by harsh customer protection laws and legislation and expect things to be right. If we pay for something we expect good service and value for money. In Thailand you expect to be fobbed off and cheated. Cheating and deception are a way of life and ok even between family and friends.

Finally, there are two rules for my lady and these are rigid. She doesn't borrow money under any circumstances and she doesn't lie to me.

THIS IS THAILAND. Enjoy it if you can.

Stickman's thoughts:

Big smile on my face!