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scottiddled

Thais drivers calling because they can't read a map (taxi, Grab, delivery)

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1 hour ago, CNXexpat said:

If I am in California or Florida, don´t speak English but Spanish, the website where I order is also in Spanish, can I expect that the delivery man speaks also Spanish? 

The delivery person doesn't need to speak anything in California or Florida. They know how to type an address into Google Maps and get there. If you need to communicate with them, your limited English and their (probably) limited Spanish will probably work out. 

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On 1/9/2020 at 4:05 PM, scottiddled said:

[Disclaimers: I love it here, I am endeavoring to improve my Thai language skills (it's an uphill battle), and most problems in Thailand have worked out as friendly people usually put in some effort. And this is hardly a major issue.]

 

All that said, I find it mildly annoying how common it is for Thai drivers (mostly Grab drivers, sometimes delivery drivers) to feel the need to call you on the phone. There are two elements at play.

 

On one hand, if you can't speak fluent Thai, the phone conversation isn't going to accomplish much. These drivers are able to see the customer name--and the name sure isn't Thai. Do they expect a fluent farang? Either way, the conversation more often than not decreases my confidence that the driver is actually going to arrive.

 

The other element is related. One of the major positive features of using an app or web order is you get to avoid awkward conversations and explaining directions. Yay, technology! These drivers are accepting a Grab booking or preparing a nearby delivery in situation where they can see exactly where they are supposed to go: both in writing and on a map. In the case of Grab, the app can even direct them. In all cases, the driver is calling from a cell phone and can easily use an app to find the location and the best route.

 

I found it annoying in my home country when I would get an unnecessary call from a driver, restaurant, etc. Or, for that matter, from anyone. Maybe it's a generational thing when it comes to loathing phone calls. Every once in a blue moon, the call is necessary (driver is having a problem, restaurant is out of an item you ordered), but even then, it's a "bad news" call. When you throw in a language barrier--a big reason non-Thai speakers would prefer to avoid ordering a taxi/food by phone and gravitate toward web/apps--the desire to avoid phone calls is even greater.

 

Come on, Thailand. You can read a map. Just come to the dot. No need to chat me up. 🙂

I find it very annoying too, as I often get calls from couriers that have my address written clearly on the parcels, asking me where I am. They probably expect that all Farang have got Thai partners to help with these conversations. Sometimes these people have detailed maps in addition to the address. Of course this leaves me to run around looking for a Thai person to help them with directions.

 

An incident a couple of months ago takes the cake. I was expecting a package from Hong Kong, by EMS. It was a valuable package. EMS tracking indicated the package had been signed for, but by a person I don't know. Eventually I found out the package had been delivered to a condo down the road because the guy that signed called my telephone number that was on the package. These are mailmen, that cannot find well marked addresses, but not to worry, if they can't find the address they just give the package to someone else. 

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Most of Thais are not fond of maps. There is too much abstract thing in the maps. Abstraction is always suspicious. 

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I am always bemused by these calls, especially Grab drivers and Grab Food.

The kicker in my case is that I also include my house number and street address in the order notes that the drivers are meant to read. They apparently find it easier to just call.

I don't speak any Thai either but it appears that hearty encouragement does that trick:

"Yes, okay, yes, I am here, look on the map, yes, I am there, blue dot on the map, okay? Yes? Okay! Yes!"

Somehow they do always managed to find me, so, I think it is more that they are reluctant to use the map and will only do so as an absolute last resort, despite the entire Grab business being built on maps and blue GPS dots.

I grumbled to my partner about this just the other day and she said that it is not as easy as Westerners think, we get taught this stuff in school, they don't. I somehow find that hard to believe. Aren't maps something kids would pick up naturally, especially being raised on video games. Now that everyone has smartphones, too, surely there is a huge incentive to use the free map apps.

 

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53 minutes ago, Zikomat said:

Most of Thais are not fond of maps. There is too much abstract thing in the maps. Abstraction is always suspicious. 

No they can't read maps my wife(ex now) has been in Australia for 15 years and my nephew,seven years in Australia not one can read a map. They use their GPS on their phones,I use my map before I depart and I am

faster than they are.

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sorry to say, but its stupidity.

 

they cant follow a simple gps map with a moving location and target marker. thats what grab is. as simple as it gets.

Edited by fhickson

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Why do you think Thailand was never colonized by a foreign power ? ; there were no maps available for any invader to use 

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13 hours ago, tropo said:

They probably expect that all Farang have got Thai partners to help with these conversations.

Why would somebody need a Thai partner to explain your location? This is some of the most basic Thai.

I would feel kind of helpless if i would have to rely on other people to do such basic tasks. Does your mother partner also have to make a doctors appointment for you or take you to the bank?

 

12 hours ago, donnacha said:

Aren't maps something kids would pick up naturally, especially being raised on video games. Now that everyone has smartphones, too, surely there is a huge incentive to use the free map apps.

Wouldn't speaking Thai be something that people would pick up naturally when living in Thailand? No? Then why do you expect that they naturally learn to use a map.

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  14 hours ago, tropo said:

They probably expect that all Farang have got Thai partners to help with these conversations.

Why would somebody need a Thai partner to explain your location? This is some of the most basic Thai.

I would feel kind of helpless if i would have to rely on other people to do such basic tasks. Does your mother partner also have to make a doctors appointment for you or take you to the bank?

 

  13 hours ago, donnacha said:

Aren't maps something kids would pick up naturally, especially being raised on video games. Now that everyone has smartphones, too, surely there is a huge incentive to use the free map apps.

Wouldn't speaking Thai be something that people would pick up naturally when living in Thailand? No? Then why do you expect that they naturally learn to use a map.

 

I'm usally on board with you, and I get the logic here, but I think you're a bit off/harsh here (the "mother partner" line, in particular).

 

Thai is hard. Really hard. I consider myself good with languages and I feel lost. Considering that I started work within a week of arriving (and had to settle in, get over the jet lag, etc.), it's not like I've had a ton of time for formal Thai lessons. My experience is not uncommon.

 

Like a lot of my colleagues and folks in similar situations, I'm trying to learn. I'm cobbling together "survival Thai." Reading? That's probably not going to happen any time soon. Telephone conversations over a staticky line with a driver from Isan? It's a real struggle. I have HR to help me through some things (setting up the bank account), and kind friends/colleagues who are willing to make a phone call or translate a letter if need be. To your point: yes, I "feel kind of helpless" (or at least limited in my options) from time to time. That's strangely related to this thread. Using something like Grab or ordering food delivery online is something I would do a bit less if I had mastery of the language. The technology is supposed to function to reduce the need for vocal communication.

 

There's another element here that I'm a little uneasy throwing out there, but I will anyway. Every Thai studies English--even at government schools--for years. This isn't a "you should speak my language!" argument by any stretch, but it is shocking how bad the English skills can be in Thai professional environments. If I go into a bank with 8 employees, yes, I feel that someone should have enough "survival English" that--combined with my "survival Thai" and some good will (and maybe a little technology)--enables us to have a successful interaction. Same with a hospital. 

 

Sadly, that's not always the case. 

Edited by scottiddled
trying (unsuccessfuly) to fix a bungled nested quote

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14 hours ago, donnacha said:

I am always bemused by these calls, especially Grab drivers and Grab Food.

The kicker in my case is that I also include my house number and street address in the order notes that the drivers are meant to read. They apparently find it easier to just call.

I don't speak any Thai either but it appears that hearty encouragement does that trick:

"Yes, okay, yes, I am here, look on the map, yes, I am there, blue dot on the map, okay? Yes? Okay! Yes!"

Somehow they do always managed to find me, so, I think it is more that they are reluctant to use the map and will only do so as an absolute last resort, despite the entire Grab business being built on maps and blue GPS dots.

I grumbled to my partner about this just the other day and she said that it is not as easy as Westerners think, we get taught this stuff in school, they don't. I somehow find that hard to believe. Aren't maps something kids would pick up naturally, especially being raised on video games. Now that everyone has smartphones, too, surely there is a huge incentive to use the free map apps.

 

I must've been absent the day they taught Google Maps navigation in school. Or I finished school before smartphones were a thing, that's right. Westerners still aren't (to my knowledge, as someone involved in the education system) extensively schooled on Google Maps or navigation in general.

 

Maybe some of it has to do with Thais not being good with maps, as some posters say. But I think there's something to the whole notion that they just find it more comfortable/convenient to call, as if they'll figure it out faster if they talk to you and ignore the information they've received (or talk to you AND look at it). There are some Westerners who are like this too--the kind who never really got into the whole "texting" thing who think it's easier to settle something with a call. Yeah, they're right sometimes. But we're in an era of discontinuous, "don't-bother-me" communication. And Thais are in that era, too.

 

It's one thing if an older relative who hates texting wants to call, or if a colleague who really wants to talk through something prefers a chat (or a sit-down). There's value to that. But redundant phone calls from strangers who should be able to figure things out on their own? No thank you. It defeats the purpose of the app/online order: providing all that information in writing (or better) so the customer can avoid confusion and move on with their life until the driver arrives.

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I still prefer 1000 times a GRAB, then an official Thai taxi and/or tukTuk cheat....and will continue to use Uber/Grab.

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On 1/10/2020 at 4:25 PM, smutcakes said:

Its not just village Thais who cant. In our office i would say its 50/50 on those who could or not and most of these are chula, thammasat, mahidol, assumption graduates. Its just not a skill they teach at school anymore.

 

Having said that i bet you could ask a group of 30 and unders in your home country and the number proficient in map reading would be far lower than 10-20 years ago.

 

 

 

 

I doubt it given they all use satnav in cars etc.

 

Map reading here is a major issue though. 

 

I find most drivers can follow a google map up until they are right on top of the destination.

Edited by metempsychotic

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4 hours ago, metempsychotic said:

I doubt it given they all use satnav in cars etc.

 

Map reading here is a major issue though. 

 

I find most drivers can follow a google map up until they are right on top of the destination.

I actually had a taxi driver stare at my phone for over a minute, twisting it and rotating it, with it displaying a Google maps route of a straight line...

 

...the road he was already on

...going the same direction he was facing.

 

I even clicked "start" and zoomed out so he could see it was a straight line forward. I then explained "go straight, 7 km" (I can at least say that much in Thai).

 

I ultimately gave up and went up to the next driver at the taxi stand. If someone is that stupid, that deceptive (i.e. they get it and are playing dumb for some reason), or that bad at navigating, I don't want them driving me.

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10 hours ago, jackdd said:

Why would somebody need a Thai partner to explain your location? This is some of the most basic Thai.

I would feel kind of helpless if i would have to rely on other people to do such basic tasks. Does your mother partner also have to make a doctors appointment for you or take you to the bank?

Don't be ridiculous. It takes a Thai person quite a while to explain my location on a phone, and you're bragging that you could achieve it with your basic Thai. I'm calling bs on that - you would not be able to... but rather than using this thread to boast about your Thai language skills, it's about the fact that couriers and other people cannot follow basic maps.

 

And in reply to your comment about needing a mother to take care of my basic needs etc.... ********

Edited by tropo
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