What a $400 oil change tells you about Pattaya condo repair ripoffs

Pattaya condo repair ripoffs are harder to detect than embezzlement but very noticeable if you someone’s asking you  for a $400 oil change.  But before I explain exactly how our condo employees tried to pull this one on me, remember just one thing.  It’s in their DNA.

Also–I am the chairman running my condo community so I should know a few things the rest of you don’t

Now let me give you a little background.  We had an office girl, bookkeeper, who our past chairman and committee trusted too much.  The chairman was a good man.  And he was a very smart man.  But he never tried to understand the Quickbooks accounting system I introduced years ago.  The bookkeeper did.  I trained her.  The problem tried to keep track of what she was doing.

The embezzler would receive maintenance fees and utility bill payments from our residents in cash.  Then she gave those residents Excel spreadsheets showing that they had paid all their bills.  She then pocketed their money.  And the Quickbooks accounting system displayed large sums of money as “undeposited funds”.

When I took over as chairman I got a fellow American to be on the new committee as my right hand.  Ralph was even better on Quickbooks than I was.  So the secretary bookkeeper suddenly disappeared when Ralph started asking her why she failed to deposit the undeposited funds.

We had the thieving bookkeeper by the gonads and she knew it

Then we reported the missing bookkeeper to a Thai lawyer.  This lawyer has a lot of power and all kinds of connections.  The lawyer located the missing bookkeeper and called her to account.

We then had a meeting in the lawyer’s office about how we should handle the embezzler.  $20000 had gone missing.  Our past chairman, two other committee members and I met with the lawyer. One of the men asked the lawyer:  “What percent of the condos in Pattaya are ripped off by their employees who are managers or bookkeepers?

The lawyer replied–99 % of all Pattaya condos are being ripped off by such employees

While the thieving bookkeeper was embezzling our money, we had a completely inept manager who was either conniving with the bookkeeper or looking the other way.  So when the shit hit the fan in our condo office, she suddenly quit and disappeared.

We got a new manager.  An honest young woman.  Then we started requiring all condo residents to pay our condo bank account directly.  We made it very clear that our new committee would cut the hands off of any condo resident who tried to pay cash to our office girls.  We also hired a new bookkeeper.  Who was just as scrupulously honest as our new manager.

And to make a long story short, we have stopped the accounting embezzlement in its tracks.  While we are forcing the embezzler to make monthly payments to pay back what she has stolen.

It’s now time to move onto Pattaya condo repair ripoffs

Embezzlement is to be expected more than it is to be unexpected. But I’ve already dealt with that in — How most Pattaya condominiums cheat their owners.

Unfortunately Pattaya condo repair ripoffs are even harder to detect than embezzlement.   But they are very noticeable if you being asked for a $400 oil change.  Here’s a tall tale  that’s based on a true story that I’ve changed to protect the guilty.   Unfortunately for all of you Pattaya condo owners out there this tale is all too true.  Welcome to Pattaya condo repair ripoffs.   Just keep in mind as you read it—–ripping people off is in their DNA.

 It all started when our condo engineer technician warned us:  “Big problem with water pump and fire control system.”

The entire sorry episode started when a condo committee member warned other committee members our insurance wouldn’t cover us for fire damages.  He warned:  “If our insurance finds our fire control system is deficient I am afraid it won’t cover us”.

The committee member  assumed that a fire control sensor and alarm would go into action as soon as it detected a fire.  He also assumed that an apparatus in our pump room would then automatically start a Cummins diesel engine.   And that this Cummoms diesel engine would start a water pump that would pressurize the fire hoses in throughout our building.

Our manager decided it was time to call in the experts when we couldn’t figure how the fire control system worked.  She found a company that specialized in such cases.  And two technicians visited our condo from Bangkok.

Then the company the technicians worked for presented a 174,000 ($5500) baht bid to our manager.  When I looked at that bid, I smelled a rat.  The entire 174000 baht bid included 1 item for a 13000 baht oil change.  Which is $400 in American money.

The problem was the technicians underestimated their opposition


I lived and worked on a farm for 23 years.  I owned 3 tractors.  This was my largest tractor.

This tractor uncovered Pattaya condo repair ripoffs
It took 22 quarts of oil to change the oil of my John Deere tractor. It had 180 horsepower so it’s engine was a lot bigger than the Cummins diesel engine running our condo water pump

I cannot count how many times I had to change the oil for those three tractors.  And their engines were very similar to the Cummins engine at our condo.  Except they were much larger.  So the procedure for changing the oil was the same.  For the 3 tractors or the Cummins diesel running the condo water pump.

But the 174000 baht bid was for a complete overhaul of the entire system, which included replacing several water valves, a pressure gauge, several ball bearings and their seals.

Hey—I had done a lot of that before.  On my farm equipment.

But now our condo engineer enters the picture.  He thinks our entire water control system should run on automatic.  Trouble with that is, if we keep running the pump to pressurize all the fire hoses, if there’s a leak in one of the hoses, we are going to have really big problems.  So getting all this fire control equipment to run full automatic makes no sense whatsoever.

I decide that this entire 174000 baht bid is just one more example from an endless list of Pattaya condo repair ripoffs

Meanwhile one of the two Bangkok technicians contacts our condo manager.  He tells her:

Don’t tell anyone.  But I can do this whole job for only 100,000 baht.  Just don’t tell my company.

But the Bangkok tech’s made a big mistake.

Our new manager is honest.  She tells me everything.

Then our technician contacts me.  He diagrams the repair job for me.  And then he tells me:

“I can get this entire repair job done for 100,000 baht.  Will you accept my bid?

“Bingo.  I’ve got those Bangkok techs by the scrotum and I’ve also got our engineer technician by his balls.”

“Yeah.  100,000 baht if the conniving Bangkok tech does the job.  But it costs the same 100,000 baht if our technician gets the same work done.  I know what time it is.”

And so does our manager.

So here’s how we handled that 174000 baht repair

We never did a damn thing.  We were paying our own tech 25000 baht to take care of our interests.  He wasn’t.  So a few months later we fired his sorry ass.

We ran fire drills.

  •  We implemented a procedure of checking all the fire hoses on our condo’s 7 floors.
  • And while we did that we checked to make sure that all the valves on each level, etc were working correctly.
  • We started training our security guards and other key employees how to start up the Cummins diesel engine.
  • And how to turn on the fire hoses properly until they were gushing out enough water to do their job correctly.
  • We replaced the two batteries for the Cummins diesel engine
  • And now each month we run the diesel engine for an hour or two to keep the batteries charged.
  • And to make sure the Cummins diesel engine is working correctly.
  • We make  our own employees responsible for changing the Cummin’s diesel engine’s oil.
  • While we use normal inexpensive oil that is commonly used for diesel powered trucks, etc (instead of that very specialized oil the Bangkok company wanted to get us at very inflated prices)

The lesson all Pattaya condo  committee members need to learn about Pattaya condo repair ripoffs are

Ripping off condo owners for both unnecessary and excessively high repair costs is a way of life here in Pattaya.

As Doctor Phillaneous Beckstein once put it: “Getting hired on as a Thai manager or other key employee  for just 20,000 baht a month is a big deal.  That’s  because that 20,000 represents only part of what a manager or other employees make given all the opportunities there are for ripping off the owners.  All condo owners in Pattaya should know that they are more likely to be ripped off than not of victimized by Pattaya condo repair ripoffs.  And act accordingly. Committee members need to be very vigilant.  They need to take action on repair issues.  Lastly the rest of the condo owners need to fully support  their elected committee members. Nothing less will  save them from Pattaya condo repair ripoffs

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