On Saturday I learned a valuable lesson about purchasing stuff in Thailand, even at the stores that appear to be quite Western. Last week I went to Home Pro and bought a small home theater system to use with the new television we bought--Mali wants to watch DVDs on the new big screen, and I do, too, but I also wanted some bigger sound. Anyway, the system I bought was horrible--just a warning, I’d stay away from the AJ brand if I were you and you were living in Thailand. The picture quality from the DVD player was terrible and the sound was, well, I didn’t really notice any sound, it was just that bad. And, even though I had told the salesperson that I needed a system that would run on 110 as well as 220 volts, she had swapped the type that was on the floor sample with a newer model that ran on 220 only. Mali had tried to return the system while I was up in the Isaan, but they told her that they would only exchange it, not give her a refund, so she wanted me to go back and deal with it. So on Saturday evening Maggie and I went back over to Home Pro to exchange the system. I had talked to my Thai co-workers and was resigned to the fact that I was not going to get a refund, but the store credit would be useful.
Of course it couldn’t be that easy. The person in The Power (which is apparently some kind of subsidiary of Home Pro--uses their cashiers but not their return/exchange system) told me that I couldn’t return it unless the system was completely non-functioning. I showed them my receipt, and read to them--in Thai--the conditions for return as printed on the back of the receipt--in Thai--and told them that the condition they were claiming was not printed on the receipt, so would they kindly give me a store credit so that I could go to Home Pro and get some other stuff that we could use around the house.
The lady I was working with had to call her manager, who I’m sure got some story about the crazy farang who was very upset and too-bad-for-us was also quite capable of reading the conditions in our own language and gosh-darn-it he’s got a point and...
They finally came back and said they couldn’t give me Home Pro store credit because they weren’t exactly part of Home Pro, but they might be able to give me credit to use in The Power, which by this time was fine by me. Maggie, to her everlasting credit, was as patient as I’ve ever seen her, especially given the fact that she was missing a movie back home that she wanted to watch with her sisters.
Long story short (too late!), I ended up spending an additional 6,000 baht to get a very nice, high-quality system from a manufacturer that I trust (Philips), and for much less than I would have paid in the States. This system is most definitely a multi-system set-up that will work back in the United States. The picture and sound quality are so much better that I was giddy after I set it up and played parts of different DVDs to make sure it worked.
Now, lest you think that was all just for pure, heathen entertainment purposes, let me reassure you, the purchase of this system added spiritual value. As I mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend was also General Conference weekend—at least it was for us here in Thailand. Because we have high-speed internet access we didn’t have to go down to the church to watch conference. We hooked our laptop computer up to our big TV and, thanks to the new sound system, Mali and I could clearly hear the proceedings over the noise that our children were making. Funny thing, though--I didn’t realize until last night that we actually watched the Saturday morning rather than the Sunday morning session...