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A very little scam executed oh so gracefully

image dsc20661.jpgThere is a beauty in the way some people work; whether it be a graceful ballerina dancing or an unscrupulous Thai developer figuring out a scheme to stuff just a little more dough in his/her pocket. This story is just one simple example of one graceful move on the part of the Thai developer, let’s call her Tip, that caught my eye and even I had to admire the beauty of it all.

image dsc20662.jpgThis scam happened close by here and here is how the pieces fit together. This developer was building out a few small rather inexpensive houses at around the same time. Before the houses are inspected and electrical is complete, a temporary meter is used. You can tell a temporary meter by the associated shutoff switch, and there will normally be wire which runs from the temporary meter to the job site. This is used from the very being of each construction project, until the last house is finally built out and a permanent meter is installed at each house.

This developer, Tip, basically sold all three houses (to different individuals) while there were still some finishing touches to be done to the houses. One thing left to do was to get the inspection and then go get permanent meters for each of the houses.

Here is where the move begins. Tip never could seem to get around to going down to the electrical department and getting the permanent meter. It was always, ‘be patient, in a week or two’. In the meantime, the temporary electrical was still in the Tip’s name. Unfortunately, she wasn’t so good at paying on time. So, every month the electric service would come out and cut the power.

When she did pay, she would come and collect for the electric from the people using the meter. It was a hassle to figure out who used how much. She was always going to go do it. It just never did get done.

This went on and on and on. Finally the expat customers and their Thai wives who had bought the houses couldn’t take any more abuse. They went down to the electric department and just paid to have the meter installed themselves. It was only around 5000 baht apiece, well worth in just to end the agony. In size, not a big scam by any means, but artfully executed by Tip.

One house buyer escaped unscathed. The wife of the husband wife team was pretty sharp and had had some dealings with Tip before. They held back 50,000 baht of the house money until everything was finished. They were patient to wait also. Since the money was held back, Tip had no choice but to eventually succumb and pay for the meter.

Sure there are always lawyer and lawsuits (which really don’t apply to anything under 300,000 baht anyway) and stuff like that, but in this case Tip didn’t say she wouldn’t get the permanent meters installed, just that the house customers needed to be patient.

Since new expat customers buying from Tip never bother to check references things will continue going on and on and on. Here is a TIP for you — if you’re buying a house from a Thai developer — just take a minute and check out previous projects and talk to the owners. You’ll not only be helping yourself, but also the next expat who wanders into the LOL and is looking for a house to buy. It’s called customer service, but it only applies if we the customers decide it is important!

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