Whilst I was visiting my customer in New Jersey I got an e-mail from another customer wanting to place an order. It was not a surprise but a tad inconvenient as they wanted to pay via PayPal - odd given the rather large amount - and it meant I would have wait until I returned to the office before I could set the payment up. I don't put the products called IP cores on PayPal because they are usually customised to each customer and therefore the prices change, as was the instance here. Also, as I mentioned, the amounts are quite large.
So nearly a week after I received the order I set the payment up and sent them the link to be able to pay. Because of the 12 hour time difference it was the next day before I expected to get an e-mail from PayPal informing me I had received payment. Instead I had an e-mail from the company saying their payment had been refused. Although they implied it was my fault, in fact it was refused because they had exceeded their maximum payment via PayPal as they hadn't verified their account. They also added they didn't like using PayPal anyway; neither do I, we lose money that way (PayPal's cut) and it takes a week to transfer the money from the PayPal account to our bank account (why this is considering it is supposed to be done by bank transfer I have no idea but I assume it so they can hang on to your money for a few days and get interest on it). And all of that is exactly why we restrict the PayPal payments to some lower priced items.
So, I suggested, why not pay by bank transfer, as all our other customers do? The answer to that is they have to put me on their system to do that and so they duly sent me stacks of forms to fill out, each one requiring identical information. So five days after I return and now two weeks after I received the order I fill out the forms as best I can and send them back. Apart from one form which has nothing to fill out, it is just information about their company, a credit application form. I sent back all of the forms except for the latter one but the following day, now Friday for them, I get an e-mail asking me to fill out that form. I point out there is nothing to fill out but as it is now the weekend and close of business for them it is this morning (Tuesday) before I get another e-mail. This e-mail copies lots more people and asks someone, anyone, to help me fill out the forms. I resend the forms I have done and by return I get another W-9 tax exemption form. What is this, I ask, (one benefit of getting up early). Ah, they reply, we assume you are a US citizen living in Thailand so we need you to fill out this form. I am not I reply and you are paying the company, not me, a limited company registered in Thailand for which I am just a lowly employee. Oh, they answer, don't bother with that form then. We will set you up on the system and you should get paid in the next few days.
It is frustrations like this that mean we have learnt to grab the good times when they appear as they can quickly dissipate. This month we have invoiced for more than 1,000,000 baht, the most by far we have ever done since we moved here. Of course invoicing is one thing, getting paid is another as the above scenario shows. And we have just had our TV pack up on us, again, and we had promised to buy a new flat screen TV. The TV we were using was the ever faithful replacement for the nice Philips one I got for 'free' whilst working for them in Singapore but which went completely kaput last year. It is Ploy's and she doesn't know how old it is but it hangs on in there although the picture is soft (it is a tube TV) and actually not so good anymore. So we promised ourselves a nice new one once we received this money as we have learnt not to spend before we actually have the money in the bank.
So far we have not got the money in the bank. And now we have no car. One of the curious things about car insurance here is they love to pay to have your car resprayed for what are really quite minor bumps and scratches; in fact they insist on it. They actually do a really good job - it looks like new when it returns - but it takes a week (10 days in reality) to be done and obviously we have no car in the meantime. Ploy did suggest last night I could carry it and then all the neighbours would see we had bought a new TV but I dissuaded her over that. So now we will have to wait until we get our car back before we can go and buy a new TV (and that assumes we have been paid too, of course).
So last night, as Ploy couldn't go out to see her customers, I suggested a little celebration dinner to toast the million baht achievement before it all becomes little more than a deforestation project with no real money exchanging hands. I made a fish stew with mussels, salmon and prawns and with a tomato and onion base and some peas for colour and flavour. And on the side was a Caesar salad so with the garlic croutons and dressing from that we had a sort of two part Bouillabaisse. A bottle of wine for me and we watched a Teresa Teng concert on DVD (using one of my small monitors from the workshop) and then we went to bed.
p.s. Before you send any begging letters for your sick buffalos, I should point out that that previous months have not been anywhere near as fruitful as this one.
p.p.s. Ploy, as with most adult Thais, is conditioned to clam up whenever a camera is in the vicinity, and so she takes a terrible photograph. Her expression was nothing to do with the food which she ate with gusto, only sharing the odd tidbit with Pinky; (although Ploy did cook the remaing muscles and salmon skin for her after we had eaten - the only food our dog doesn't eat is the Pedigree dried food which costs more than our food).
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