Recently I've been replacing a lot of equipment which means I'm out there with money in my hand doing my very best to spend it.  You'd think this would be easy.  But like most things in Thailand, something that should be intuitive and simple can become a major experience that leaves you shaking your head in frustration and asking yourself if Thai businesses really care about making money at all.

I'd really love to bash some local retailers and warn you guys away, and if I thought these were isolated incidents I would.  But they're not.  They're the way Thai's do business.  So instead, I'm going to list ten main tips to follow for successful retail transactions.

 

1.  If possible bring a printout of the exact item you want that includes model numbers, name, and a picture.  The price too if possible.

2.  If you ask the average clerk in a retail store for the item you need, if they don't know the item, they won't look and they won't ask.  They'll look at you and lie and tell you they don't carry it.  Don't believe them.  Ask nicely to speak to their supervisor and ask again.  Show them your printout.

3.  When you feel a retail clerk is arguing with you, trying to tell you they don't have it, or behaving in any way contrary to you getting what you need DO NOT argue with them.  Just ask to speak to their supervisor in a polite voice with a smile.  When you do this they'll probably try to help you like they should have in the first place.  Don't allow them to, continue to insist to deal with their supervisor.  The next time someone comes in they just might do their job.

4.  Don't be afraid to ask for a discount, and don't be afraid to ask for a supervisor if they tell you a discount isn't available.  You'll be surprised how many discounts really are available.

5.  When a retail clerk tells you it will fit, it will be in Tuesday, that it can be returned, when a retail clerk tells you any of  this ask them to please write it down on paper and sign the paper.  You'd be surprised just how careful a Thai clerk will be, and how helpful, when their name is written down and they know their performance can be traced.

6.  As much as possible, BEFORE YOU PAY, physically view the item, even if you have to wait for it to be brought up from inventory or the stock room.  Quite often they'll tell you they have something knowing they don't.  They'll collect your money knowing it will force you into a tight spot so you wont' resist getting something 'close' to what you wanted.  This is very common.

7.  If a clerk tells you something will be available on a certain date, ask them to write it down and sign it.  Usually they're making up the date to get you to move on.  If you ask them to write it down and sign it, they'll actually lift up the phone and do their job.

8.  You'll find, and I'm sure you know, that most Thai clerks know very little about the products they sell and have been given very little authority from their superiors.  If anything out of the ordinary is requested they won't know what to do or how to handle it.  It serves no one to argue or to continue dealing with them.  Ask for their supervisors.  Don't hesitate to ask for their supervisors supervisor.  I've had several recent experiences where I didn't get proper service until I was dealing with the regional vice president.  This is sad, very little trust or authority is given to low to mid-level employees.  This is why you shouldn't hesitate to ask the VP for his personal mobile number and to use it if you must.  I've had to do this several times this month with orders totaling in excess of 100,000 baht.

9.  If you're dealing with a company that has a headquarters or office in another country, it doesn't hurt to contact that office if you're having issues with the Thai office.  I've solved many issues this way.

10.  If for any reason you don't think you're getting the product, service, warranty, or whatever it might be.. that you know you should be getting.. then talk to a supervisor, a VP, a regional office, or even offices in another country.