Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A friend came to see me the other day. He had a problem. He had fully paid for a pool to be built at his rental house. The pool, measuring only 6m x 8m, took the contractor 11 months to build – and within a few months of completion, it was falling apart.

The concrete on the pool terrace is crumbling, the grout between the tiles is missing and lime is leeching into the pool.

Several emails to and from the company gained him nothing. He didn’t want to engage lawyers, knowing that going to court would only delay what was needed, ramp up the cost due to lawyer’s fees and pin his hopes on actually winning the case.

My friend didn’t know what to do, and faces the prospect of having to pay out of his own pocket, yet again, to fix something he had already paid for.

This was a small tale of woe on the grand scale of life, but rang true as an all-too-common story in Phuket. In my 13 years on the island, one of the most frustrating experiences of being a foreigner is trying to get what was promised by a company, be it service, construction or any other commercial product.

Before I hear the howls of racism, most Thais I know are also very familiar with this problem. The only solid advice I have heard over the years is to go with a personal recommendation.

Then a light shone bright in the dark recesses of my brain: the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB).

Most expats that I have mentioned the OCPB to have been dumbstruck to learn that it exists. So have most Thais. And both have glowed on hearing of it. The mere existence of the office delivers a sense of normalcy, a sense of justice.

The OCPB’s low profile likely stems from the Bangkok head office being established only in 2009, with provincial offices opening across the country within the following 18 months. Despite its late arrival, the formation of the OCPB spells a great leap forward for Thailand.

To be fair to officers at the OCPB, they are not a free legal service. But if the aggrieved can clearly show he has been duped, sold short or simply sold out, the officers may be able to help. They aim for mediation first. But if that fails, they will call in their lawyers.

The OCPB, critical for the long-term sustainability of Phuket, is wanted, needed and can only help raise Phuket’s profile as a place to live, work, visit or do business. Tell a friend.

The Phuket office of the Consumer Protection Board is located at Phuket Provincial Hall, in Phuket Town. Tel: 076-211366 or 076-213203. Open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.

This article first appeared in the December 7 - 13 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper. Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.

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– Damian Evans

1

Same as the taxis. They get away with it because 'farang' are way too stupid and easy to say, This is Thailand.

Posted by Hannes December 15, 2013 05:48:45PM

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2

The OCPB is also hopeless. I once asked for advice, but the office advised me to consult a lawyer. They have no power. I think there should be a Facebook for people who have been cheated with these kind of people on this island. Once even recommended by a friend who said good and reliable, I also got cheated.

Posted by minimoma December 15, 2013 09:35:42PM

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3

I had a similar but less disastrous situation five years ago. But NEVER pay in full up front! I paid 20% payments and fired the contractor after 80%. This left my money for my lawyer (we did not go to court), and money to have it finished correctly. There were immediate cosmetic problems and an early pump failure. It is a sad, sad thing to deal with. So many "contractors" who lie, cheat, and then run away!

Posted by KC Phuket December 16, 2013 12:19:09AM

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4

I have been there and after 1-2 years and many complaints, they helped me to send a letter to some scammers in Phuket, which did not help. If you want to fix your problems, just go to a the courthouse outside Phuket.

Posted by Hans December 16, 2013 07:56:03AM

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5

I had a similar but less disastrous situation five years ago. But NEVER pay in full up front! I paid 20% payments and fired the contractor after 80%. This left my money for my lawyer (we did not go to court), and money to have it finished correctly. There were immediate cosmetic problems and an early pump failure. It is a sad, sad thing to deal with. So many "contractors" who lie, cheat, and then run away!

Posted by KC Phuket

You sound like you were born yesterday. Show me any country in the world that has a reputable building industry. 'Reputable contractor'.... those are mutually exclusive terms.

Posted by Wake Up December 16, 2013 12:05:58PM

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6

I worked in the building trades for 40 years in the USA: For many reputable contractors. If you don't know, keep it shut!

Posted by KC Phuket December 16, 2013 12:27:49PM

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6

I worked in the building trades for 40 years in the USA: For many reputable contractors. If you don't know, keep it shut!

Posted by KC Phuket December 16, 2013 12:27:49PM

Reply

0    0

5

I had a similar but less disastrous situation five years ago. But NEVER pay in full up front! I paid 20% payments and fired the contractor after 80%. This left my money for my lawyer (we did not go to court), and money to have it finished correctly. There were immediate cosmetic problems and an early pump failure. It is a sad, sad thing to deal with. So many "contractors" who lie, cheat, and then run away!

Posted by KC Phuket

You sound like you were born yesterday. Show me any country in the world that has a reputable building industry. 'Reputable contractor'.... those are mutually exclusive terms.

Posted by Wake Up December 16, 2013 12:05:58PM

Reply

0    0

4

I have been there and after 1-2 years and many complaints, they helped me to send a letter to some scammers in Phuket, which did not help. If you want to fix your problems, just go to a the courthouse outside Phuket.

Posted by Hans December 16, 2013 07:56:03AM

Reply

0    0

3

I had a similar but less disastrous situation five years ago. But NEVER pay in full up front! I paid 20% payments and fired the contractor after 80%. This left my money for my lawyer (we did not go to court), and money to have it finished correctly. There were immediate cosmetic problems and an early pump failure. It is a sad, sad thing to deal with. So many "contractors" who lie, cheat, and then run away!

Posted by KC Phuket December 16, 2013 12:19:09AM

Reply

0    0

2

The OCPB is also hopeless. I once asked for advice, but the office advised me to consult a lawyer. They have no power. I think there should be a Facebook for people who have been cheated with these kind of people on this island. Once even recommended by a friend who said good and reliable, I also got cheated.

Posted by minimoma December 15, 2013 09:35:42PM

Reply

0    0

1

Same as the taxis. They get away with it because 'farang' are way too stupid and easy to say, This is Thailand.

Posted by Hannes December 15, 2013 05:48:45PM

Reply

0    0

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