Greed And Customer Relations
I've been travelling to Bangkok regularly (twice a year) for twelve years now. On my first visit I met a young lady "S***" working behind the bar at a watering hole on Sukhumvit Soi 22. It being lunch time and I being the only customer we came into conversation and she soon discovered that I was a Bangkok virgin, and gave me much good advice and practical help during my stay. In following years we often met, sometimes with her English boyfriend also. Later they married and started running a few ventures of their own including a bar and a guesthouse. Over the years we remained in contact, with me often using the bar as a source of female companionship during my stays. About 4 years ago I met a young lady named T*** who I have regularly had as a companion for the last couple of years, at least during a large part of my stay in Thailand. (I do like to be alone for my last couple of days to play "helicopter"). This lady works sometimes in Bangkok in the bar of my "friend", and sometimes in Pattaya.
Upon my last visit to Bangkok in January, as in every year to my birthday, I went along to my friend's bar which has now moved to another location nearby due to the demolition of Washington Square. It was fairly early and none of the "working girls" were present, just a few ladies preparing the bar for he day's business and serving drinks to the early birds. I spoke to one lady I have known for many years and asked if T*** was in Bangkok and received the answer hat she was working in Pattaya at the time. I could not call T*** because my mobile phone had been damaged and I was not able to retrieve her telephone number. I also had a new Thai telephone number myself because I had to replace my Thai prepaid card. I didn't worry any further about it because I was planning to go to Pattaya in a couple of days for my birthday anyway.
Arriving back at my hotel the next evening, I was given a notice by the receptionist. It seemed that T*** had been informed that I was in Bangkok, had driven up and left the note for me. The only problem was that the receptionist had obviously copied her mobile number incorrectly. The only solution for me was to go to the S***'s bar the next morning and ask one of the ladies there for the mobile number of T***. The next morning I then took this action but instead of giving me the number, the lady called T*** with her own phone which she gave to me. I spoke to T*** and we arranged that she come to my hotel the next morning by taxi and we travel to Pattaya (I did not wish her to come immediately because I already had other arrangements for that night). She insisted though that I do not say anything in the bar – too late…I was already telephoning from there.
The next morning we met at the appointed time (wow – a Thai lady punctual !) and drove down to Pattaya. On the way I questioned her about the secrecy and she explained that although I (as expected) had to pay her Pattaya barfine that if S*** knew that we were together, she expected a barfine to be paid for her bar in Bangkok also! The icing on the cake was that S*** also owed her some serious money and threatened not to return it if the Bangkok barfine was not paid.
I will not go in to details about how the situation was resolved, but after my birthday in Pattaya we returned to Bangkok and made sure that we were not seen together in the Soi 22 neighbourhood. Later I went one last time to S***'s bar. S*** was not there but her sister confirmed that a barfine was expected because I had telephoned T*** from the bar (I wanted to check that it wasn't a scam from the girl herself). I told the ladies in the bar farewell, "I'm sorry we will not see another again – and please tell S*** when she returns that I have spent an estimated 900,000 THB (in words, nine hundred thousand baht) in this bar over the years but after this attempt to try and squeeze 1,000 baht out of me for short term gain I will not spend a single satang here again. I vote consequently with my feet !
A couple of nights later I was in Soi Cowboy when all the lights went out, the music stopped playing and the boys in brown started riding through he area on their motorcycles. I went down to Soi 22 :- same picture so I went to a street bar on the corner on Soi 22 and Sukhumvit run by a lady-boy (maybe the ugliest lady boy in Bangkok) but (s)he has a nice sense of humour and there are some nice people who collect together there.
Because of the early closure, a couple of the ladies who work at S***'s bar were there. They also told me that they did not find the barfine for T*** correct but described their working conditions to me. They receive no salary and no commission on the barfines. The only earnings for them in the bar is a cut of the lady drinks. They must wear decent evening dress (after all the new location is at a new hotel complex). Other things which they told me I would prefer not to say…
This goes way beyond a lack of gratitude or just disrespect, it's treating customers like dirt. Unfortunately this sort of thing is not uncommon. When trade is down, some operators will try anything for money.