Thai Mentality And Customer Service
This happened to me on my very first trip to Thailand. This is to show how the Thai mentality really is. For most of them, everything is just absolutely normal.
I had my flight booked at HKT to fly back home the day prior to Songkran. That day traffic was jammed everywhere. Many people were arriving to Patong and other people were leaving. Songkran was just starting. I left my hotel in the morning and I walked a bit to the centre of Patong, near Jungceylon Mall. Everybody was outside in the streets playing with water guns and throwing water at everybody passing by. This was my first time ever in Thailand, so everything was new for me and I was amazed with everything.
Just about one hour later I went back on my way to hotel because soon I needed to go to airport. On my way I booked a taxi in a travel agency to pick me up in my hotel and drive me to the airport. That lady spoke good English and warned me about Songkran, saying that there were traffic jams and recommending that I go to the airport a bit early. I sure agreed on that. She also mentioned the Portuguese history of Phuket Island. We were there in XVI century and had good relations with the Thai government back then. The buildings in Phuket Town are made in a sort of called Sino-Portuguese style that I was not aware about. Good to know our two people are connected somehow.
When I was on my way back to the hotel I saw a restaurant just near the travel agency. I thought to myself that was time to eat lunch and then I can go back to the hotel, start packing everything and get ready to leave.
I entered the restaurant and took a seat. Soon someone went to my table and gave me the menu. There weren't many people inside, so I thought service would be quick. I couldn’t get more wrong as you will see soon.
I ordered my meal and a beer and my long wait was just starting. 15 minutes later and nothing. Then they started to serve other tables with people that had been there before me. Fair enough – first in, first served. Long wait again and no sign of my meal. Another meal coming out to another table. That was fair too. Those people were there before me. My beer just finished, so I asked for another. Drinks come quickly, food … not so quick. I started to get worried about my meal. I had a 15 minute walk back to my hotel, I still had to pack everything and then go to the airport. Time seems to fly when we are only waiting. Finally I get impatient and after about 1 hour of waiting I talked with another farang there. They had been waiting a long time like me. I went to talk with the owner or the person in charge. I asked him about my meal, and he replied to me that the cooker didn’t show up today because Songkran Day and they have a delay regarding the delivery of the meals. I replied to him I have a flight leaving HKT soon and I can’t miss the flight. He apologises and told me to wait a bit longer. After 2 beers and a long time waiting (more than 1 hour, maybe an hour and a half) I felt desperate and didn’t want to wait one more minute, so I was preparing to leave the restaurant without paying beer and get my feet on the ground and walk back to the hotel. I get up from the table and started to move outside when the person in charge calls me to pay for the beers. I told him I was waiting for a long time, I had a flight to catch and no way I will pay for the 2 beers. Then I left the restaurant and came back to hotel where I ate a quick meal in the restaurant hotel and started to pack my things.
Finally my taxi arrived and I could be on my way to airport just on time. In the end things were ok, but I was a bit scared about losing my flight back home. As you can see from my story, this was the lousiest service I ever get in Thailand. They just don’t care about customers. They could have said to customers the truth and I can have the choice to leave the restaurant earlier and don’t have any kind of stress. That time I’d finally accepted the fact of being in a less developed country with another level of education and service level. Finally I had realized the fact I wasn’t in my home country, where this kind of service would be completely unacceptable. This was 5 years ago, I think now things didn’t changed too.
While this story is totally believable, I think in fairness this sort of thing does not happen too often. If anything, I'd say that service in Thailand – at least in mid-range place – has deteriorated in recent years.