There is something about the people in Thailand that I find a bit peculiar.
The question I ask myself though is, if it is about the people in Thailand or if it is about the general culture in a country of this, should I say ‘caliber’?
Asia and Thailand in particular, is what I know best so that is what I will focus upon.
In Thailand you can always, in any shop or with any company become a Platinum member – or if you are not so good a Gold member. The Thais seem to love it when they can be a ‘Diamond Customer’ whether that is in a fancy department store, in a bank or as a patient in a private hospital. Whereas a foreigner who is admitted to a hospital usually looks for the best treatment at the best price, the Thai patient looks for the most expensive alternative, which is usually to stay in the hospitals ‘Platinum Ward’. Preferably for a couple more days than what is really needed.
I am a customer with AIS, one of the choices for mobile phone communication in Thailand, the other one is DTAC and that means Telenor wich in turns means Norway – Scandinavia, Europe & The Western World.
If you use your phone over a certain limit and then also pay the bills on time you can become a member in ‘The Serenade Club’. If you are lucky, you become a ‘Platinum member’. And this means that you can go into their little shops in the fancy shoppingmalls, sit in white ‘leather’ sofas and drink tea or coffee – that they offer you for free. The coffee is of course ‘3-in-one’ (Coffee, Sugar & Milk) and instant. The staff does not really speak English, but they will offer you a new yearly plan for your mobile.
Then when I am in another country, I can not recieve text messages from friends and family that don’t have a Thai mobile number. It simply does not work…
I get it. Image is everything, not only here but almost everywhere. It’s just that I feel bad for the Thais sometimes. They are starting from the wrong end it seems. There are so many things to fix in Bangkok, in the rest of the country and they just want to be Platinum at Central Food Hall or at AIS.
When you exit the AIS Serenade Club and come out on the street, there is a man standing there with a charcoal grill on the packet holder of his bicycle. He is selling grilled eggs…
At DTAC, they have a Norwegian Managing Director, Sigve Brekke, who seems very well liked. He said in is inaugural speech to all his employees that from that day on it will be no more ties in the office. (That did not land very well with the Thai staff at first…) Furthermore, he and many of his staff are wearing jeans at work, which is unheard of here.
Tie and a jacket is the rule in a Thai office in general.
All part of the image. It is not who you are but who you look to be.
IF a Platinum membership would give me a better deal, automatically better treatment and better services along with better functionality, then fine – I would like it. But as it is now, the Platinum is just there for a little bit of shine, which they often think they are missing.
Now the phone system does not work properly, the nurses in the Platinum Ward do not speak English and the Internet Banking my bank offers does not allow me to transfer money to another bank or pay all of my bills there – only pay the companies that have signed up with this bank.
I am sure that this is not specific for Thailand in any way, I think it is common in any country that to some extent is struggling, may it be with food, money, self-esteem or Nation Image – or all of the above.
So we get a little bit of shine, but no functionality really, then what is the point?