This story tells about the stupidity of Thai authorities so much that I have to write it in English in order to publish it in Twitter as well.
It all started on Christmas morning, the 24th of December when my phone rang and there was a lady from a shipping company that I had never heard of and she was telling me that there is a parcel from a Malaysian company that I had never heard of either containing ”cosmetic products” weighting 109 kilograms. I told the lady that we are running a publishing company and do not know anything about any cosmetics.
The lady insisted that since there was our book shops name and address on the freight documents and my personal telephone number as well this shipment has to be for us. I told her to send me the documents by e-mail and take it from there…
The documents arrived the same day and after a long and a hard thinking I remembered a discussion with my cousin Jukka which took place at a restaurant in Helsinki last September. My cousin is in charge of an organization which is aiming to prevent HIV -infections in Finland and one fact relating to this incident is that 10 % of all HIV infections to Finland come from Thailand. At the end of our discussion we agreed to make an anti-HIV campaign for the Finns in Thailand since one HIV infection costs the Finnish government roughly 200.000 euros.
The campaign consists of 1/2 page adverts in my magazines in Pattaya, Hua Hin and Phuket. On top of that there would be condoms on free delivery at selected Finnish bars and restaurants in Pattaya. At the end of our discussion my cousin told me that ”If those condoms are made in Thailand it is no use for us to order them to Finland first and then send them back to Thailand”, which makes perfect sense.
Based on that I made an educated guess and called to the shipping agent telling them that this is only a guess but I believe that there possibly is 3.000 condoms coming for us to pack them in boxes of two and distribute in Pattaya area as a part of the continuing battle against HIV in Pattaya. As a result of this the customs called me when I was doing my Christmas shopping in Tesco and asked me to come over to Bangkok in order to ”get this matter cleared”.
I told them that this is Christmas and I am not going anywhere and after an amazed moment of silence this this lady from the customs asked me if I was aware of the seriousness of the situation. I told her that I have never heard of this company sending me 30.000 condoms and that I have never ordered anything from them and therefore I really don’t give a fuck of the whole shipment and she told me to stay put until she contacts the shipping agency. I only needed to wait for five minutes.
When the phone rang I was given three instructions:
1. Do not ask for the goods to be delivered to you
2. Do not ask for the goods to be returned to the sender
3. Tell in writing that according to you the goods can be thrown to the sea
In other words somewhere there is a customs official who has a relative who can sell these condoms fast.
I sent an e-mail to my cousin telling him about the situation and he sent an e-mail to his supplier in Finland, who sent an e-mail to England, who sent an e-mail to Malaysia saying that this is a no go situation. After all that the Malaysians decided to ask for their stuff back.
As a result of that the Thai customs are asking us to pay them 19.000 baht. Is this official? Is this according to the laws in Thailand? If it is then everybody in Thailand is eligible to pay customs if:
– somebody who you never heard of is sending you any material without you ordering anything
– customs in Thailand can decide that whatever you receive is payable for them
– whoever working in the customs office can take whatever they want and make you pay for the expences