Going Mobile

My brand new computer decided to die on me earlier this week.  The power wouldn’t turn on no matter what I tried.  I realize how dependent I am on technology now that it is not available to me.  I am not sure whether I will get a replacement immediately… In the interim, I will try to do all my blogging, photo editing, personal finance management on my phone.  Quite a tall order.

We went on an interesting adventure in Bangkok trying to get it fixed, before giving up.  As I mentioned, the computer is almost new.  It has 8 months left on the warranty.  I spent an hour on the phone with HP reps and that got nowhere.  The US guys told me to call the Thai guys, who had trouble understanding me.  Apparently the numbers six and eight sound interchangeable to their ears.  After much repetition and back and forth, they said so-and-so engineer would call me back.  Of course, I never heard from them.  I decided to take matters in my own hands and looked up the authorized service centers in Bangkok.  I found two in the infamous Pantip Plaza, which is kind of on the other side of town, but in a part we wanted to explore anyway.  Went to the first one but got directed to go to the second one.  Went to the second one, and this place seemed legit.  They tried to tell me my serial number didn’t check out for warranty purposes despite me showing them confirmation from the HP website on my phone.  They called HP (the same guys I tried to deal with earlier), and were put on hold for about 45 minutes.  After an hour, HP confirmed what I had been telling them.  Now we were in business. I explained the problem and she tells me to come back in an hour.  So we go eat lunch and  wander around the stalls of the tech mall.  We get back and she explains she can have the computer back to me in 3 weeks… Um, we are leaving at the end of this week, I tell her… She tells me the motherboard needs to be replaced so they can’t do it any faster.

Now I was a little skeptical the motherboard actually needed to be replaced.  That’s a pretty severe step to take, especially after having only looked at the computer for about an hour.  Maybe they pushed for a replacement to guarantee a bigger payment from HP.  Who knows.

Anyways, I decided it wasn’t worth it to get a second opinion and to have the computer shipped back to the US to have it serviced.  That led to another 3 hours of fun.  We first went to Thailand Post.  I packaged the computer up using some scrap cardboard lying in a heap and got in line.  Finally got to the front and they asked if the computer had a battery.  Yes I tell them, but it cannot be removed.  They tell me they cannot ship something with a battery.  So that wasted another 45 minutes, not counting the time it took to find the place.  We ask them where we can go.  They tell us UPS or DHL can do it.  We wander around in the 100 degree heat to another shipping center that supposedly has both.  Can’t find either.  We ask for directions, but aren’t having much luck.  We finally come across the UPS, which as it turns out is operating out of a single room in the basement.  My packaging was pretty shoddy from before so they suggested I rebox it.  They weigh and price it out.  Price seemed high, but whatever.  Then they ask — does it have a battery?  Uhhh.  Yes it does and it cannot be removed… Sorry, she tells me, they cannot ship it.  OK.  We ask her if she thinks DHL can ship it?  Didn’t really get an answer but she tells us DHL is straight then right and another right.

We get lost amidst all the corridors, but finally see the DHL logo after 10 minutes.  It’s not even in a room, but a stall.  The stall marked with the DHL logo had the lights off and there are a bunch of kids climbing on the boxes.  Turns out they are doing business from the adjacent stall.  OK we explain to the guys that we want to ship a computer to the US and that it has a battery.  One of the guys asks what kind of computer then gets on the phone for about fifteen minutes and he’s writing all this information down — I think about what type of battery for my computer.  It seems to be OK.  They meticulously box up the computer and I get the price.  It’s now over $100 without insurance (30% more than the last place that I already thought was expensive).  Oh well, we are tired at this point without any other option.  Have to go to the ATM to avoid a 3.5% credit card surcharge.  (Here the ATMs charge a fee of 200 baht or $6, but we have a free Charles Schwab checking account that not only refunds all ATM fees, but also does not charge fees for currency exchanges like most other US banks.) So it gets shipped back (hopefully) and we are now without a computer.

To top things off, we had the darnedest time getting a cab back to our place.  The first guy made us get out by saying he could not make a U-turn in traffic (probably B.S.).  The second guy refused to take us after we told him where we were going.  The third guy asked for almost double the metered rate (150 baht versus 80 baht), but we were tired so we agreed.  Plus, paying $4.50 versus $2.40 for a 30 minute ride is not really a big deal.

We were exhausted.  We just vegged in our apartment for the next few hours then went to dinner where we made sure to drink a lot of ice cold beer.  What an adventure.

So here it is: my first (and probably not last) post from my phone.  It wasn’t all that hard I suppose… Will just take some getting used to.


9 thoughts on “Going Mobile

  1. Ouch. Get a good tablet, that should enable you to do just about anything these days (certainly blogging, photo editing and financial management), and is far less likely to break. Alternatively, get a Macbook as the support is generally considered market leading.

    We’re heading to Bangkok in 6 weeks (then Chang Mai and Koh Samui). Interesting to hear about the credit cards and taxis. Anything you recommend?

    • Yeah my wife has an iPad, but I’m not a big fan. The phone has been OK so far…

      For cabs, stick to your guns that they use meter at least until you get a sense of what the metered rate should be. Some guys will ask for 4-5x the metered rate if you are going to a place they don’t really want to go to. If you are by the river, the ferries are pretty convenient as we learned on our last day (and really cheap). But a little confusing. The MRT is pretty good too, but limited in where it goes. Only blue line is in operation right now. Get a stored value card as you can get a complete refund at the end of your trip, including the card deposit.

      For ATMs, you should use a card where you can get a rebate of the fees. They are very high — 200 baht or $6. If you have Citibank, you can use their ATMs without extra fees. Otherwise, you may be better off using currency exchange desks.

      Hope you have a great time. It’s really hot and humid right now, but still a lot of fun!

      • Thanks — that’s really helpful. I’m steeling myself for the humidity! We were in Cambodia this time two years ago and the humidity outside at night was fairly overwhelming at times. Enjoy!

      • On some days, we would just hide indoors during the day and basically shift our walking hours by a few hours so we stay up well past midnight. The nightlife scene is pretty active.

  2. Pingback: The Impossible Task of Tracking Expenses in SE Asia | Thoughts of an Anonymous Lawyer

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