Thursday, July 14, 2016

Small hiccups are better that big ones

Aloha Home is nearing completion and we have quite honestly been very lucky that P'Pong and P'Neung have worked closely with the family and with us to try to make things go as smoothly as possible. From past experience with Mom's small apartment project, there are lots of things that can go wrong with the construction, planning and even the people building the structure.

We are just now running into some smaller problems that probably stem from a combination of "the fog of war" and "battle fatigue" if you will along with poor customer service.

Let me explain. Fog of war and battle fatigue are perhaps a little over the top, but at the tail end of the construction has been a lot of decision making responsibility for Mom and Dad. They have sometimes talked to us about the decisionns if they were big decisions; color scheme, number and size of washing machines, etc. But some smaller decisions they have handled by themselves. These things are coming fast and hard and multiple things per day that need to be considered and handled.

Some of those things are not just "things" like washing machines, televisions, cable tv installation, wifi installation, curtains, furniture, refrigerators, etc. Along with each of these things comes lots of details and planning (even construction planning).

Washing machines- Size? Load capacity? Turning it into a coin operated machine. How much to charge for each machine? Cemented area where the machines will be located. Will we have a cover to protect them from sun and rain? Will we have a CCTV camera monitoring this area? Wiring electricity to wherever the machines will be placed. (Many of these decisions need to be made before we actually have the machines, but for some, we need to know exactly what machine and it's energy usage, ect. before completing the associated work. Pae has just decided on the washing machines as she is back home helping out for the week.

Televisions- Not only do we need to decide what brand and size to buy (we did) but also how to install. Mount on the wall vs. sit on a table or tv stand. This is where I see a problem but others don't see the problem, so for me, it can slide for now. I'll explain. When we were considering furniture for the apartment, I wanted to have the flatscreen tvs mounted using brackets on the wall. Safer and saves room. After everybody talked about it, a decision was made to buy small tv stands for each room and just have them stand there, unmounted.

Not sure when, but recently the decision was reversed and they decided to mount them on the wall. Problem is that P'Pong, based on our original decision not to mount them, placed the electric outlet near the floor. Now we have mounted televisions with a black cord hanging down to the socket against a white wall background. Had there been a tv stand there, it wouldn't be visible. It's a small thing, but something I noticed and asked about. It is too much work to go back and bash holes into the walls and put in new outlets behind the televisions, so we shall leave it like it is.

Mom and Dad have been running around talking to people about internet and cable options. These aren't as easy either as there are lots of installment requirements, drilling of holes in walls, outlet considerations that need to be made prior to the walls being finished and painted...but we didn't have our decisions made on cable company or internet provider until recently so P'Pong just finished the walls and outlets/sockets and cable access points in each room based on where the tv was supposed to go. I don't think we will have any problem with internet or cable, but the work that went into the decisions required lots of time, travel, phone calls, sales pitches and stress as everything seems to be hitting Mom and Dad and Pae all at the same time and everything is kinda intertwined.

Curtains- A week or so ago, Pae went home for a wedding and was able to choose a color and style of curtains. After she came home, Mom made the order. With the order, of course, would be the curtain maker getting the size of the windows being curtained. I would assume that the curtain maker would either go to the site himself and measure or ask for specific measurements. This didn't happen, or didn't happen as I would expect.

Mom and Dad gave the man the measurements for the window. Window size, if you can imagine, is not the size that a curtain should be. The curtain will be set above the window frame some 10 centimeters and below perhaps 20 centimeters. But, based on the numbers given by Mom, the curtain maker just made the curtains the exact size of the

Twenty rooms worth of curtains are already made. They are the wrong size. We are not sure if they will serve their purpose (privacy, light reduction, insulation of cooled air, etc.) if they barely cover the window. So, now the plan is to just take a look after they install one curtain and rod. If it is indeed ridiculous looking and not going to be fit for purpose, Mom will take them to her apartment and replace the curtains there and we will order new ones. Again, we're half a year into construction and if this is going to be one of our biggest problems, I'll take it!!!

Furniture- Similar to only me worrying about the television cords looking out of place, there is something that Pae thought about that nobody else even considered. Furniture placement seems like it's already sorted out based on the placement of the entry door to the room. This forces the bed to be placed away from the door. The problem arose when Pae envisioned the layout of the rooms and realized that half of the rooms in the apartment would sleep with their feet pointing towards the temple across the street.

It is culturally rude to point the bottoms of your feet at people here in Thailand. Pointing them at a Buddhist statue, spirit house or Temple must be even more taboo!! Mom doesn't see a problem with it as there is a road and two fences constructed between the tenants and the temple. NOt just this, but Dad believes that people should always sleep from east to west or west to east. I'm not sure what that is based on, haha.

Pretty amazing right? Things that I would absolutely never ever consider, mostly based on a difference in culture ;) Interesting and makes me happy that I've been away from my home culture for so long, yet still am learning about the culture here. Ultimately, the tenants will be able to move their furniture around in their rooms to satisfy their personal beliefs.

Refrigerators- Another oversight by the customer (us) and piss-poor customer service. I often tell Pae that I think many people here in part time customer service roles are just at their jobs collecting a paycheck monthly. The less they have to do, the better. And I think it holds true for our refrigerator order. So, after deciding what model of refrigerator we wanted way back when, an order was actually put in. Mom and Dad or P'Pong, whoever ordered the 20 fridges, failed to specify a certain color. Most of the smaller fridges here come in 4 or 5 different colors; beige, white, silver, green, blue, etc.

That's right, we received shipment of the refrigerators and it was just a hodgepodge of assorted colors, with most of them being the least popular (worst selling color) green. Now, I would expect that the sales person would have the responsibility to ask the customer what color they wanted considering they come in different colors and each color would have a different SKU code and model number.

If not at the point of sale, the person filling the order or loading the machines on the delivery truck would need to know which color machines to grab from the warehouse or more than. Zero, nothing. The customer didn't specify what color? Take these ones that nobody buys and deliver them. Horrible customer service, but to be honest, to be expected here (from experience, not being mean).

I must say, again, that most of our small problems are coming near the end when everything is frenzied and happening so fast. I wish I could be there but I can't. I wish we could have been more involved in the daily decisions because I tend to be a stickler for details and perhaps would have caught some of these oversights or asked too many annoying questions as I tend to do ;) Or perhaps I would have also just missed some of these details, you really never know how you will react until you're under all of that pressure.

I'm glad Pae is there right now and can be a part of the decision making process. I appreciate all of the work and time that Mom and Dad have put into the project on our behalf. We'll get it all figured out. I am confident that out of the one million people in the province, Aloha Home will fit the needs up to twenty of them ;)


Pae and Guy said...

The sample curtain with the wrong size has been hung and it looks okay and the decision has been made to go with them. Yay.

Pae and Guy said...

Minor adjustments were required, but worked out in the end

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