Friday, December 22, 2006

Non-existent Customer Service in Thai Banks

To all foreigners like me working here, it is next to impossible for us to get a Credit Card if you happen to be getting the standard “Thai” class salary. Why it is that banks here do not understand the fact that being a foreigner does not mean we have access to unlimited amount of legal tender? You need a salary scale at least 5 times that of the average Thai THB$15,000.

Initially when I tried to apply with SCB (Siam Commercial Bank), I got rejected several times with no apparent explanation except for the usual “regret to inform you” letter. The staff in the branch could not tell me where my application went wrong even thought my salary is definitely a few times above the average. That was until I decided to write an email to ask SCB if there exist a double standard involved for foreigners. In the country I come from, we get replies immediately the next working day but here, it takes a lot of effort to get customer service to response. I resent the email a total of 6 times. For the record, it took almost 14 days to get a response. They finally cleared the air that I needed a monthly salary of THB$100,000 (huge contrast to THB$15,000 for locals).

With the questioned answered, I know now foreigners with average income like me can forget about getting any credit facilities from the foreigner unfriendly SCB. So I approach UOB (United Overseas Bank) bank in Ratchada crying out my problem. They were kind enough to speak to me whom sometimes still cannot make complete intelligent sentences in Thai. The staff explained that unlike SCB, UOB does not have this double standard applied to foreigners. They encouraged me to open a saving account with them so as to facilitate the application of a UOB credit card and for easy future payments. Thus I took the trouble and did as they said. First of all it is not easy for foreigners to fill up banking application forms. They are never in English. So it was a cumbersome few days for me getting translation services.

To cut things short, I got my card application rejected by the UOB and am stuck with a UOB saving account of no purpose. The explanation in the letter is that my income does not meet requirements (although it definitely does). I have written an email to them to ask why I was deceived. It has been a week now with no reply and I don’t think I ever will. Getting shoddy services, double standard treatments and paying a “foreigner price” for almost everything when eating, shopping or staying are all part of fun of living and working in Thailand. But to get the same from banks where we trust our money with is not within any acceptable limits of threshold.

2 comments:

Enda @ Blogger.com said...

i just give up on the idea of having a thai published credit card. i still have my old one (indonesian), but it's just no point on keep asking the banks, the requirements still has to be about 100k monthly.

in the other hand, some of my friends are getting AMEX easily, but who wants to have AMEX nowadays.

anyway, keep posting i have been reading your blog for some times now.

have been offered to work in sing recently, but your Singapore Dream II pience makes me think twice. :D

kevin@kp-earthscience.com said...

Hi, i symapthise with you and understand exactly what you going through. I had the same issues with my SCB branch. Unfortunately for us it is the criminal individuals who in the past have made the banks issue these rules.

I have a thai run business so have a work permit, and all the correct documentation for been self employed, so getting an american express cedit card (thai) was rather staright forward. Try other international credit institutes in thailand, not the banks, there are many, good luck