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Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 01:53 AM   #1
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Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Well, I consider myself to be of average intelligence, but sometime even I wonder about my I.Q. considering some of my massive screw-ups…

In less than one week, I managed to: lock my Siam Bank ATM card by entering the Pin code incorrectly four consecutive times; lose my Siam Bank savings passbook AND lock my Siam Bank online account when attempting to change my cell phone number.

Three strikes and you’re out farang!

After skulking around for a few days, I finally decided to take it like a man, so I duly notified Siam Bank via e-mail of my errors. Siam advised me to go to my neighborhood police station and file a lost passbook report.

I immediately dressed for success (combed my hair and put on some shoes) and walked down to the soi store where some motorcycle taxi guys hang out, waiting for customers. The proprietor raised her eyebrows meaning “You want moto- cye taxi. I gave the one motion Thai nod meaning “yes.” She barked out “Somchai, wake up! A cash customer is waiting!” Somchai sleepily stumbles out of his hammock, starts the bike and we are off to the subway station. Maybe last night Somchai hit the Thai whiskey a bit more than usual because I have a knowing fear that he will fall asleep at the handle bars, but some how he successfully transports me to the station.

I pay him the customary 20 baht and he falls asleep before he can pocket the fare.

I transfer to the Sky Train (elevated railway) at Mochit station, then detrain and walk to the police station.

I immediately make a great impression with the cops.

They have a ticket machine to assign the order of persons served, but for some reason I can not get my ticket. I am sweating profusely from the walk and pressing the buttons like mad, but nothing. A cop takes pity on me, walks over and with a theatrical press of his index finger presses a button and a ticket prints and pops out. I smile my ’aww shucks smile” and he responds with his “yet another farang” expression, then I am intercepted by Wan, a lithe and easy on the eyes 20 something police woman.
I explain that I lost my Siam savings passbook. I think Wan (Wan means Sweet) is a detective in training, because she peppers me with specific questions: “Oh, you lost your passbook? How? Where? When?” My Thai is being tested to the limit and Wan is growing increasingly suspicious. She changes dialects and consults with Pee Daeng (Elder brother Red.) I understand about 60% of the conversation, basically she says “Pee Daeng, this farang claims to have lost his passbook, but his story seems a bit strange to me. Maybe his documents are forged? They say farangs buy fake Ids at Khao San Road (backpacker ghetto) and I want to be sure before I give him the report.

Daeng, a hard looking man that exudes a suffer no fools demeanor replies “Wan, is this your first day on the job? Didn’t you notice the way the farang fumbled with the ticket machine? It is obvious that he is not clever enough to steal anything, let alone buy forged documents. But then maybe you’re right. Why don’t you phone Police Colonel Tang and tell him you just cracked the case of the farang gang stealing bankbooks; solved the heinous crime before it even happened. I think Pee Tang will transfer you back to Isan (The north-east, the poorest region of Thailand) and you will be writing up stolen chicken reports until you retire. Besides, look at him, the way he is perspiring, he could suffer a heart attack and die at any moment. Just what we need, some unhappy farang ghost wandering around our station.

Wan completes filling in the form in 30 seconds flat, adds a series of officious stamps and practically drags me out of the station. Heck, I did pretty good in there, now I’m off to the bank.

In Thailand, I can use my ATM at any bank’s machine, but for replacement ATM cards and bank books, I must go back to the branch where I originally opened my account. No problem, they know me by name there because I manage to lock myself out of my account about one time per year.

This time I successfully master the customer ticket machine, young bank hostess fetches me and advances me ahead of other people and deposits me at the desk of a senior branch official.

Good to see you again Khun Lance, what did you break, er misplace this time? We’ve meet before and Khun Nid nods sympathetically as my tale of woe unfolds. I present the police report, my passport and driver’s licensse and Nid efficiently begins the laborious process to issue me a new bank book and ATM card. (ATM pins are not reset here; enter the pin incorrectly and you advance to your local branch for interrogation)

It is interesting to see Khun Nid in action; her desk is about three feet form the copy machine, but she summons “Nong” (younger person, a.k.a. the young hostess) to make copies and gather other necessary forms and documents. Rank does have it’s privileges here. Khun Nid and I repeat our scripted conversation “Can you speak Thai?” “A little.” “Do you work in Thailand?” “No” “Hw long stay in Thailand?” “Four years.” I suspect that Nid is wearing a wire and later, in private, will compare this years interrogatories with last years. You just can’t be too careful when you work at a bank…

Actually, I did OK, it was two hours From the time I left my apartment until I arrived back at the subway station. Somchai, my motocye taxi driver was still parked and sound asleep where I had left him two hours earlier. Talk about loyalty buddy, you can’t beat service like this!

Maybe tomorrow I will call Siam Bank’s call center and try to unlock my online access.

I wonder if they require a police report for that?
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 05:41 AM   #2
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Interesting and entertaining story. Certainly a bit different than what would happen here in the States. Does raise one question, tho. Given that getting a replacement card requires so much person to person contact, is identity theft an issue in Thailand? How about anyone else living in a different country? Just curious to see if banking systems in other countries are structured to avoid the identity theft issue while here in the States its quite clear that the banking and credit card industry would rather have very, very easy to get credit than protect the customer from identity theft.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 05:46 AM   #3
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Very entertaining. Loved it.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 08:39 AM   #4
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Great story. The feel is similar to the writing of an Aussie author named John Burdett who wrote Bangkok 8, and Bangkok Tatoo. Two very entertaining books.

Ha
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 09:11 AM   #5
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Great story! Reminds me of our travels to Thailand. We had a similar story regarding getting my husband's work visa extended. Lots of red tape indeed! Only 2 hours to get all that done? Impressive!

I also rode a motorcyle taxi when I was stranded by myself in a small town outside of Bangkok. They say it's very dangerous, but boy it was fun and exciting! Except initially, I thought I was being kidnapped b/c the driver took me on back roads I wasn't familiar with. I have an active imagination.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 09:16 AM   #6
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Compared to my dealings with banks here in Canada, I find the banks in Thailand completely different. Quite often just to do what I would consider a simple transaction, they'll send you to two or three different counters before completion. A lot of paper shuffling, and rubber stamping. You can easily spend an hour or two in there before you're done. I find it all quite humorous, but then I don't live there.

Thanks for the great story Lance.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 09:42 AM   #7
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeignExchange
Compared to my dealings with banks here in Canada, I find the banks in Thailand completely different. Quite often just to do what I would consider a simple transaction, they'll send you to two or three different counters before completion. A lot of paper shuffling, and rubber stamping. You can easily spend an hour or two in there before you're done.
This is also true in Poland, at least where my wife banks. Some friends there tell her that banks founded since Communism collapsed have better customer service, but she still sticks with the bank her parents used. Since we only go there about once every 2 years, it doesn't matter much.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-22-2007, 11:15 PM   #8
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tio z
Interesting and entertaining story. Certainly a bit different than what would happen here in the States. Does raise one question, tho. Given that getting a replacement card requires so much person to person contact, is identity theft an issue in Thailand? How about anyone else living in a different country? Just curious to see if banking systems in other countries are structured to avoid the identity theft issue while here in the States its quite clear that the banking and credit card industry would rather have very, very easy to get credit than protect the customer from identity theft.
IMHO, not so much to protect against identity theft but just plain old bureacracy.

I have heard that many credit cards are cloned in Thailand, but I have no firt hand experience with that. I have used my US bank issued ATM card for over four years and never had a problem. However, just to be safe, I rarely use my credit card. Besides, most Thai merchants bill back the (aproximate) 3% discount they give to the cc companies for buying the debt. Billing the customer for the discount is supposed to be illegal here in Thailand, but so are bribes and corruption. Enough said...

Besides, processing all these reports makes a job for people
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-23-2007, 12:47 PM   #9
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Khun Lance, you're a great story-teller--enjoyed reading your post.

What does Khun mean--mister or sir?
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-23-2007, 10:37 PM   #10
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by flipstress
Khun Lance, you're a great story-teller--enjoyed reading your post.

What does Khun mean--mister or sir?
Thanks Khun Flipstress

Khun has many meanings, the most you common being "Mr. or Ms." It can also mean you. A polite way of addressing someone whos name you do not know is "Khun krap." (krap is for men, women end sentences politely with the particle "ka")

An (impolite) way to get someones attention is to say "khun khun!" (Hey you!!)
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-25-2007, 11:14 AM   #11
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Tagalog (major Philippine dialect) also has particles to indicate respect--"ho" and "po", with the latter being the more respectful.

Also, it's similar to Spanish in that the pronouns change to 2nd person plural and even 3rd person plural (for utmost respect) when one is addressing an older person, a person of authority or power, customers/clients, or even just people one has met for the first time.

I'm thinking Thai is harder to learn because it has its own characters for writing, but maybe words and signs there are also spelled out in Roman characters.

I would love to visit Thailand someday...
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-28-2007, 02:43 PM   #12
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Great story Lance! Thailand actually seems to be LESS bureacratic than other Asian countries. We were amazed that it only took us less than 5 min to get multiple train tickets in Chiang Mai. The complete opposite of what happened in India:

- Wait in line for 30 min in the "Foreigner" line (which is also the "War veteran" line) which is actually shorter than all of the other lines.
- Just as we are almost to the front, the ticket dude takes a tea break. WTF?!
- Comes back from the break and helps us sort through the overly complicated train schedule. India has one of the largest train networks in the world. Something like 65,000 km of track and they have a scheduling book about 200 pages long which is almost impossible to use when you have to switch trains. The guy is was very friendly and helpful but we had to wait another 10 min because the printer ran out of paper. He couldn't actually change the paper himself, there's another guy who's job it is to do that.

You would think a country with so many engineers and software programmers would spend a few bucks to automate stuff. Nooo... that would take away someone's job.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 03-29-2007, 02:52 AM   #13
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderALot
Great story Lance! Thailand actually seems to be LESS bureacratic than other Asian countries. We were amazed that it only took us less than 5 min to get multiple train tickets in Chiang Mai. The complete opposite of what happened in India:

- Wait in line for 30 min in the "Foreigner" line (which is also the "War veteran" line) which is actually shorter than all of the other lines.
- Just as we are almost to the front, the ticket dude takes a tea break. WTF?!
- Comes back from the break and helps us sort through the overly complicated train schedule. India has one of the largest train networks in the world. Something like 65,000 km of track and they have a scheduling book about 200 pages long which is almost impossible to use when you have to switch trains. The guy is was very friendly and helpful but we had to wait another 10 min because the printer ran out of paper. He couldn't actually change the paper himself, there's another guy who's job it is to do that.

You would think a country with so many engineers and software programmers would spend a few bucks to automate stuff. Nooo... that would take away someone's job.
Thanks Wander

Living abroad, I am resigned to dealing with Immigration and other governement agencies.

On a different note, I've had the very best and very worst customers service in Thailand.

A couple of days ago, I bought a USB cable for my cell phone. Took it home and -for the life of me- I could not download any photos to my pc. Went back to the shop where I made the purchase and the sales ladies could not do enought to help Khun Lance. When it became apparant that the cables the had in stock were not compatible with my phone, they ran to a neighboring shop and brought back another cable. This one seemed to work, but they anxiously stood around and wrung their hands while I installed the software

Finally, a story with a happy ending
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 04-05-2007, 04:06 AM   #14
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot
Thanks Wander

Living abroad, I am resigned to dealing with Immigration and other governement agencies.

On a different note, I've had the very best and very worst customers service in Thailand.

A couple of days ago, I bought a USB cable for my cell phone. Took it home and -for the life of me- I could not download any photos to my pc. Went back to the shop where I made the purchase and the sales ladies could not do enought to help Khun Lance. When it became apparant that the cables the had in stock were not compatible with my phone, they ran to a neighboring shop and brought back another cable. This one seemed to work, but they anxiously stood around and wrung their hands while I installed the software

Finally, a story with a happy ending
Lancelot

What's kind of cellphone you use? I have the same problem as you before.
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 04-07-2007, 04:23 AM   #15
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Nokia 6070
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!
Old 04-07-2007, 10:17 PM   #16
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Re: Banking in Thailand-Three Strikes and You'r Out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancelot
Nokia 6070
I use Motorolla, I have to use usb cable also to download the picture and i also can use USB as the charger with my computer.

I always go to the shop near by my office to buy the cellphone eccesssories. Where did you buy the USB cable. I don't like MBK.
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