This is one of the most intelligent and articulate posts on this subject that I have read for a long time, I had considered going down the marriage visa route, but after reading some of the stories on here about the way people are treated at various immigration offices I decided against it.
spidermike007, I understand completely your frustration with immigration, after many years of doing my retirement extension totally legally I was or less pushed down the agent route due to the shabby treatment I received from immigration. It now looks, for the moment anyway, that the use of an agent has been denied to many people, I have the required 800k sitting in various investments, bank accounts at home & other places, the reason I have not moved it here is due to the crap exchange rate at the moment, so those who say people have not planned sufficiently are talking out of their ar***s. They don't know every individual's circumstances so they need to keep quiet.
I also feel extremely sorry for those guys, and girls, that moved here, bought a house, raised a family and provided well for that family, the goal posts have been moved beyond many people's reasonable expectations.
Here's a hypothetical example: A guy moves to Thailand 10 years ago, has a long term GF, they get married, he buys a house and a car, they have kids he raises them well and sends them to a not inexpensive private school, so over time his capital sum is reduced by quite a bit ? No problem, he has pensions to live quite comfortably on, the exchange rate plummets due to circumstances beyond his control, and then at the drop of a hat immigration change the rules, the guy is now cattle trucked, he doesn't have the funds for a retirement visa or maybe even the marriage visa, who's to blame here ?
I know what all you retiree knockers will say, but the guy planned for his future and we can't predict what will happen, so all this crap about inadequate planning is BS.