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Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-24-2006, 05:31 PM   #1
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Lazy or just bad business

OK I realize this happens everywhere and not just Panama but....

We called a surveyer to come and survey our lot to ensure that the neighbors aren't encroaching on the lot we are about to buy. The guy said it would cost $300 to do it. We said fine and set the appointment up for the following day (last Friday). Now its Thursday a week later and the guy still hasn't even went to the lot to do the survey. Now in the US I wouldn't think anything odd of this lack of service. Here's why....I figure it takes him a hour to get to the lot, then a hour to do the survey, a hour to return and 30 minutes to write up the report. So here's why this is so strange. This guy would have made about $85 a hour based on my estimates. That is A LOT of money here in Panama (the US too for that matter). So how can someone turn down quick money like that? I've asked several people here in Panama and most of them chalk it up to laziness. For that kind of money I would put off retirement. :

This brings me to another point. In countries with low wages, I wonder what percentage of those people that earn low wages are self enflicted. Here's why, some taxi drivers here will ask you where you want to go before you get in. If its too far (by too far I'm talking 10 miles) they say no and drive off. How many business owners turn down money on a daily basis? With gas prices as high as they are you would think that a taxi driver would jump at the chance to keep his cab full. It can't be good for business the way they run their operation. Thus you have low wages.

OK I'm done venting, we will now resume our regularly scheduled program....
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-24-2006, 08:21 PM   #2
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Arif,

Roger Escape-From-America Gallo once told me something similar about the webmonkeys in Panama, that they lacked follow-through and that a reliable gringo could do very well. (Under the table, too, but that doesn't seem to bother Roger. Me, I would be concerned about being thrown out of the country for working without a work permit.)

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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-24-2006, 10:30 PM   #3
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Ed,
Those are my thoughts exactly. I plan to open a real estate related business that should do very well given the lazy competition here. Fortunately I don't have to worry about work visas because I am Panamanian. If you opened your own business then there is no need to work under the table.
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-24-2006, 10:59 PM   #4
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Quote:
Fortunately I don't have to worry about work visas because I am Panamanian. If you opened your own business then there is no need to work under the table.
?? Are these two different thoughts, or the same one?

If I read you correctly, if I opened my own business, it could be above board?

I thought that in Panama, a foreigner could own a business but not work in it, could only hire Panamenos. Not a problem for you, of course.

Just curious what you meant.

By the way, have you met Dino and Melodye out there?

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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-25-2006, 05:01 AM   #5
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Arif.. I run into some of this in some of the stores here. I go into the store and explain what I want. The shop owner just stares at me. Then they walk me over to the area where that kind of stuff is. I explain again and they stare at me and say, "no we don't have those". I keep insisting and finally with a pissed-off look they reach into a drawer and come out with the very thing I was looking for. As if they can't be bothered to sell something!! If I hadn't pushed they would have sent me away empty-handed (and no $ for them)...

I just don't get it. It's like you're 'harshing their mellow' or something.. disturbing their Zen meditation session behind the counter.. or worse yet, interrupting their personal cell-phone calls (it's not unheard of to have to wait 10 minutes; the words "I'll call you back" are not in their vocabulary.) Could it be a kind of passive-aggression? Or maybe they are all secretly well-off but just choose to sit all day in a nasty boring shop?

Same thing with a local car mechanic.. he sits outside his garage all day. When something went wrong with my car, we asked if he could take a look at it.. "ah.. well... it's a Saab..." Didn't wanna touch it. Ok. Then DH brings the Honda over for something routine: "ah.. well... it's a Honda..."

We took the cars elsewhere and that guy is still sitting outside his spiffy repair shop doing nothing!

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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-25-2006, 06:12 AM   #6
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Quote:
I thought that in Panama, a foreigner could own a business but not work in it, could only hire Panamenos. Not a problem for you, of course.
Sorry my thoughts ran together. You as a business owner can work in your own business with no problems here in Panama. IIRC where it might get tricky is if you had a pensianado visa and decided to work. Not sure on the second part but definately sure on the owning your own business and working in it with no problems.

Quote:
By the way, have you met Dino and Melodye out there?
Actually we met Melodye on her birthday while at Taboga. Very nice lady. She was helping her friend run a B&B on Taboga island. She is very knowledgable on Panama and the different areas.
Never met Dino. I haven't seen him post on any of the Panama message boards lately.

Ladelfina,
I find it very strange that this happens in business anywhere in the world. The only thing I can say is poverty must agree with them because if they got up off their butts and did a little work they would be so much better off. Ahhh sometimes figuring out people is like figuring out how to get to Mars....it's doable but very hard :
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-30-2006, 03:53 PM   #7
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina
Arif.. I run into some of this in some of the stores here. I go into the store and explain what I want. The shop owner just stares at me. Then they walk me over to the area where that kind of stuff is. I explain again and they stare at me and say, "no we don't have those". I keep insisting and finally with a pissed-off look they reach into a drawer and come out with the very thing I was looking for. As if they can't be bothered to sell something!! If I hadn't pushed they would have sent me away empty-handed (and no $ for them)...
I just don't get it. It's like you're 'harshing their mellow' or something.. disturbing their Zen meditation session behind the counter.. or worse yet, interrupting their personal cell-phone calls (it's not unheard of to have to wait 10 minutes; the words "I'll call you back" are not in their vocabulary.) Could it be a kind of passive-aggression? Or maybe they are all secretly well-off but just choose to sit all day in a nasty boring shop?
Same thing with a local car mechanic.. he sits outside his garage all day. When something went wrong with my car, we asked if he could take a look at it.. "ah.. well... it's a Saab..." Didn't wanna touch it. Ok. Then DH brings the Honda over for something routine: "ah.. well... it's a Honda..."
I was discussing this thread with spouse yesterday. She pointed out that it's an evasively inoffensive way to say "No", and even a rather subtle form of discrimination. Many times in Hawaii you won't be told "No!" but you'll never be told "Yes." The closest that some businesses will come to that two-letter word is "Ah, you know what, Mr. Nords..."

It's not necessarily racism, but more localism.* They just don't think you're the kind of customer they care to serve, whether it's attitude or language or neighborhood or "high touch" or "Japanese only" or "No haoles welcome".* You're not being refused service or told to leave, but you're certainly not being encouraged to come back!

I see it all the time in certain places that I used to patronize in uniform and now visit "in ponytail". Some places I wasn't welcome before, and other places I'll never be welcome again...
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 05:19 AM   #8
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Interesting take, Nords/Mrs. Nords.. I suppose that could be part of it, but.. I'll give another example of "bad business". In the official phone co. Yellow Pages for the entire province of Siena, if you look under "printers" (as in printing shops; here they are called 'tipografie'), you will see under that heading Not One Single Listing. NO print shops in all of Siena? Impossible!

Turns out that unlike the YP here, where a business gets at least a free one-line listing, in Italy you have to pay in order to even be in the YP at all. Hardly anyone pays, and so the YP is of drastically limited utility, which then discourages more businesses from paying, etc. in a downward spiral...

How do you get anything done? You have to drive around aimlessly or ask acquaintances for recommendations (never sure whether their recommendations are honest or whether the shop is run by a friend/relative).*

We found a well-stocked and courteous lumberyard, but had driven past it several times without even realizing it, since there is NO SIGN outside of any type whatsover! Not even "So&So and Sons, Inc." ...a Stealth lumberyard!

(We'd seen some wood outside their big hangar/bldg., but it could just as easily have been some kind of private factory using wood products to make something.)

Could be that this strictly "need-to-know" basis ties in with some of your observations, but it certainly can't help their bottom line.

---
OTOH, going back to Arif's OP.. It's kinda funny that we on the RE board have said "enough!" "I don't need to work harder for more $" but then we are surprised when other folks don't want to work harder for more $..* * * The visa requirements for foreigners in Panama require a demonstrated income of $500/month; if that's considered enough to live on, surveyer guy conceivably only has to do 2 or 3 $300 surveys a month! [Arif, what's an average middle-class monthly income in Panama?]
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 07:06 AM   #9
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Ladelfina,
Is that a small town? Maybe the owners figure that everyone knows where there store is because they been open for 30 years. Only non locals aren't familiar with them. If that is the case then they figure why spend the money on signage and YP ads.

Quote:
OTOH, going back to Arif's OP.. It's kinda funny that we on the RE board have said "enough!" "I don't need to work harder for more $" but then we are surprised when other folks don't want to work harder for more $.. The visa requirements for foreigners in Panama require a demonstrated income of $500/month; if that's considered enough to live on, surveyer guy conceivably only has to do 2 or 3 $300 surveys a month! [Arif, what's an average middle-class monthly income in Panama?]
That's hilarious, never thought of it that way. The average wage is about $500 per month so yes he would only have to do two jobs a month. But that figure is really low even for Panama. I think people making that kind of money are living with relatives and they pool their money together to pay bills and rent. I just think if someone doesn't want to be bothered they should just say so instead of having people waiting on them. Just courtesy....
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 09:12 AM   #10
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

You're right about the courtesy part, for sure. But still, let's say surveyer guy works one day a week and does one job in the a.m. and one in the p.m. => $2400/month! (If I had a surveyor friend I'd tell him to check out Panama!)

Small-ish town, sure. The lumberyard is between our town (pop. 5,000) and a bigger one (pop. about 9,000). Close by are two other towns of 3,000 and 7,000. Thing is, I've traveled in rural places like Maine and Vermont, but usually a business will at least be labeled. How much can a basic unlit sign possibly cost? Being a lumberyard, all they'd be out is the cost of the paint.* *woo- hooo** :*
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 10:17 AM   #11
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Our friends on Edisto had a problem with their A/C. They never heard back from the big outfit that advertised in the local Yellow Pages. But an old-time resident who runs the local market/cafe recommended a guy who called back within minutes and came a couple hours later--at 6pm on a Friday. And returned on Saturday morning with a needed part. He rents a beach house and has no local business presence. Showed up with his barefoot 8-10-yr-old son, who gave him a hand. Charged a fair price for labor and seemed like a happy guy.

ASIDE
In talking with him, I learned that his favorite hobby esides fishing with his boys is playing Scrabble with his wife. She's been winning lately so he was looking forward to a rematch after the A/C repair.
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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 10:37 AM   #12
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arif
OK I realize this happens everywhere and not just Panama but....

We called a surveyer to come and survey our lot to ensure that the neighbors aren't encroaching on the lot we are about to buy. The guy said it would cost $300 to do it. We said fine and set the appointment up for the following day (last Friday). Now its Thursday a week later and the guy still hasn't even went to the lot to do the survey. Now in the US I wouldn't think anything odd of this lack of service. Here's why....I figure it takes him a hour to get to the lot, then a hour to do the survey, a hour to return and 30 minutes to write up the report. So here's why this is so strange. This guy would have made about $85 a hour based on my estimates. That is A LOT of money here in Panama (the US too for that matter). So how can someone turn down quick money like that? I've asked several people here in Panama and most of them chalk it up to laziness. For that kind of money I would put off retirement.* :

<snip>
Who says the surveyor doesn't have 10 other jobs, making $100/hr. that he's working on? Do you see 'em sittin' around his office with his feet up? Some of these "specialized" areas can command the work they want, when they want, and how much compensation they recieve. We can run our surveyors ragged, have to go back alot, or just have 'em do a thorough job on one or two projects a day. Do the minimum on ten jobs or do everything on two.

Sounds like you just have one work item, though. You'd think they could show up and hammer it out. Obviously, outside work is affected by weather. Has it been raining alot?

-CC

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Re: Lazy or just bad business
Old 08-31-2006, 02:00 PM   #13
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Re: Lazy or just bad business

Quote:
Who says the surveyor doesn't have 10 other jobs, making $100/hr. that he's working on? Do you see 'em sittin' around his office with his feet up? Some of these "specialized" areas can command the work they want, when they want, and how much compensation they recieve. We can run our surveyors ragged, have to go back alot, or just have 'em do a thorough job on one or two projects a day. Do the minimum on ten jobs or do everything on two.

Sounds like you just have one work item, though. You'd think they could show up and hammer it out. Obviously, outside work is affected by weather. Has it been raining alot?
The surveyor is just one example. Taxi drivers are another and I know they aren't packed with work. It's rained twice so far this week BUT the lot is only 1/4 of an acre so it's not like he's surveying acres with rolling hills.
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