Thai Culture and Customer Service

There is no doubt that Thailand is one of the top holiday destinations for travellers. Thailand has some of the worlds best beaches and a melting pot of cultures all living inside Bangkok. Many companies offer trips and flights to visit the various sights and cities, and with this comes the expectation that some might not be as honest as the others.

The problem starts when visitors from other nations experience the “No Blame, not our fault” culture which is so deeply embedded within Thai Culture. Having lived in Thailand for over a year now, I have experienced a wide range of companies refusing to acknowledge when they have done wrong, but nothing could compare to the way Thai Airways reacted this weekend on my flight to Krabi.

Arriving into Krabi Airport, I was told that our bags were missing. After explaining to the baggage staff what the bags looked like, I was told that they would be delivered to the resort later on that day. Anyone who has visited Krabi knows that they have one of the most expensive taxi rates in this country. A 25 minute trip costs 500 baht and the boat from Ao Nang to Railay is 100 baht (if you have 8 other passengers in the boat, if not the cost goes up).

So we arrived at the resort with the clothes on our back and nothing else. This was ok as we were told that the bags would arrive later, this was lie #1. When I called at 4pm, I was told that the bags were missing but they were still arriving that night and could we make our way back to the airport (cost, another 900 baht one way). Upon arriving at the airport we were told:

– They couldn’t find the bags
– They are being delivered in the morning
– They are lost

The lack of any customer support or acknowledgement that Thai Airways lost our bags wasn’t forthcoming. They even had the cheek to say that we must have not put them on the plane or even caught the flight, which didn’t make sense as we had the baggage tags and also were in Krabi. So after spending 2 hours banging our heads against the wall, we went back to the resort, another 900 baht. The customer service lady told us they would be delivered at 9am to the resort.

9am came and went and when we phoned we were told the bags were on the way, or lost, depending on who you spoke to. Eventually after spending 30 hours in the same clothes, we made our way back to the airport (another 900 baht down the drain). We were met with the usual excuses of the bags not being found, on the way or delayed and when we mentioned we had nothing to wear, we were informed we should just buy new clothes. This made me loose my cool as I was sick and tired of Thais assuming that Foreigners are made of money and have thousands to throw around.

Eventually we had enough and decided to walk back into the baggage arrival hall, only to see one of the bags going around on the conveyor belt. This bag was “lost” according to Thai Airways staff.

We eventually got the backs back on the last day, 4 days of wearing cheap imitation clothes and still Thai Airways refused to admit they had done any wrong, saying we must have written our names wrong so therefore the bags were not put on the plane (err hello, ticketing is all digital now darling)

This post is meant to be a warning to all visitors to Thailand, DO NOT give in to the shoddy customer service that some companies try to give. Fight all the way and make them realise that if they want to function in a growing economy of tourism, they need to start accepting blame for their mistakes and fix them as quickly as possible

2 Comments so far

  1. ann (unregistered) on August 12th, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

    man, that sucks. you should have give them grief from the very first time that you had to come back to the airport.

    i’ve got thousand-and-one complaints about the customer service attitudes here (don’t know, not my fault, oh well your lost!). totally feel your pain.

    i would add to your advice that when a case like this happens, get really stern and say that you need to talk to the highest ranking manager in charge. give them a “i am better than you” look but dont’ yell. it usually works.

  2. UDontKnoMe (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2007 @ 7:48 pm

    Man, Thats really ad I think that when Americans over here in America get all uppity and snotty over the littlelest things and than I compare it to that is not even a comparison

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