In LIFESTYLE

Phuket: The Land of Bad Customer Service

Phuket and Phangnga are provinces popular with tourists and were among those hit by the 2004 Indian Ocena tsunami that killed more than 5,000 people in Thailand. When I visited Phuket 2 years back, I was very impressed and very elated that Phuket had recovered so much from the devastating Tsunami and had rebuilt most of their amenities to the pre-Tsunami state.

Today, I feel really heavy-hearten to be writing this post especially when I just back returned from Phuket 2 hours ago. But Mark and myself have decided this would be the last trip we were ever going to make to Phuket. We had very fond memories of Phuket. We went to Phuket during our courtship and I still remembered it clearly when we went there as a couple in 2001 and we stayed at the Holiday Inn. Barring it all, I got to do this post so that parents know not to bring their kids to Phuket again with such atrocious service level.

Besides the cheap bargains, the fake goods, all-kinds-of-medicine which you can buy pharmacies, Phuket also boast of great BBQ Seafood and when the BBQ food is coupled with Thailand’s Chang or Singha beer, the food taste even better. I won’t comment about the beach. Patong beach has been so polluted that it is comparable to Singapore’s East Coast Park in terms of water pollution (so picture Patong beach!)

I am not really sure what happened to Phuket between this trip and the last trip we made like 2 years ago. The place has become unspeakable. Mark chose a fantastic hotel but we had the worst holiday experience at Phuket. We stayed in a room with private jaccuzi at Millenium Resort Patong Phuket and Mark enjoyed the Jaccuzi a lot, not to mention a large plate of BBQ Tiger Prawns and his Pad Thai. The hotel was convenient and linked to Jungceylon, the biggest shopping mall at Patong Beach.

We had to stay in mostly because it was raining at weird hours of the day and we had to take golf umbrellas whenever we were going out. Apart from the unpredictable weather, Phuket also had the worst customer service you can imagine. I went to the authentic Paul Frank store at Jungceylon. I bought 2 t-shirts each costing about S$50 inclusive of tourist discount. The sales person did not have the slightest knowledge of customer service and what’s more she couldn’t pick herself up from the chair she was hogging behind the counter the whole day to make way to the store room, which was just 2-metres on her left to get a new piece of the t-shirt for me. She was frowning all the way and told me to “Wait ah.” No wonder, nobody was going into Paul Frank shop and perhaps I was the only customer for that day!

I won’t say the whole town of Patong had terrible service, at least the transvestites serving us at Boots were very nice and helpful. The whole area of Patong area was flooded with Caucasians from different parts of the world, not to mention the newly-rich Koreans and Chinese. In a shop, as long as you are not white-skinned, the service level would not be there. Why do we have such racial discrimination and prejudice when we all live in ASEAN? I thought Thais were all about peace and non-discrimination. (Remember they allowed the Japanese to walk through their land during Word War II to avoid blood-shed.)

The poor service did not end at the Paul Frank store. As loyal customers of Singapore Airlines, we took their subsidiary flight Silkair to and from Phuket. At the check-in counter at Phuket International Airport for Silkair, we were outraged at how we could not check in our 40 kilos of luggage for 2 persons. We traveled as a couple, so we obviously shared and brought only one luggage and that’s common sense right? Did you know that the labour law of Thailand does not allow a Thai crew worker to carry more than 32 kilos of luggage because it would hurt their back? Wow, I didn’t know third-world Thailand had such first-world labor laws to protect their workers from spine injury and slipped-disc,when many Thai people in the villages do not have food to eat not to mention jobs.

The Thai counter lady refused to let us check in the luggage and she raised their voice at me when I raised mine. Of course, I was unhappy because we have traveled to Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea so many times without such problems with our huge Delsey bag. We had always brought with us our reliable Delsey Large black suitcase during our many trips and I am proud to say it is one of most well-traveled luggage bag.  As a result of the newly added Thai labor law, my Thai-lookalike Singaporean husband had to be a Thai coolie and opened our luggage to take out whatever toiletries we had bought from Boots for the kids and you know what, we had to leave the 4 bottles behind at the Immigration because each bottle was more than 100ml. We had to leave the liquid soaps and lotions we bought behind for our kids and I presume the airport staff would probably take it home and use them for their their kids.

This is not the last rude act from Phuket Thai customer service. I needed a cup of coffee so I went to the cafe before I boarded the flight. There were at least 4 staff standing at the cafe counter doing NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING! I was queuing in front of this Caucasian who had bought one sandwich already, and he wanted another one. He had no dollar notes and was counting his Baht in coins. I was standing at the cafe’s cashier counter for almost 15 minutes, before my husband politely asked the cashier and the 4 other lazy cafe staff if they could be so nice to make a cup of coffee for me for 100 baht.  The cashier said no because the Caucasian was in the queue first. Can’t you STUPID AND LAZY FOOLS make a cup of coffee and take my 100 baht and then serve the Caucasian later since he was still counting his Baht in coins?!!!?!!! So I asked the counter staff who were twirling their hair, ” Is it because of my skin colour?” They denied and said the Caucasian was in the queue first. They had 5 Thais including the cashier behind counter and they were serving 2 customers, the Caucasian and me. So, can you imagine the service level? If they want to twirl their hair, probably they should go work at a massage shop. ” Massage, massage, 200 baht….cheap cheap….”

It was the last straw when they rejected to make my coffee first until the Caucasian finished counting his coins. I walked away and showed them my infamous third finger and all of them were shouting indecency and profanities behind me. I was not proud of myself for being rude because I really cared about image but I was just so enraged by the poor customer service from these Thais that I couldn’t care less. I contributed to your suffering economy and yet you had the decency to discriminate me because I was yellow-skinned. Sayonara Phuket, I will not be back soon. I must always remind myself that there must be no profanities on my blog and in my life!

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