It’s good to go back and reflect on older articles sometimes (and correct a few typos now and again). I wrote this article some days ago and looking back now I am surprised by how so little has changed. It’s mainly talking about the “Philippine brand” of customer service, but more importantly how the common question of “How much things cost in the Philippines” is perhaps the last question you need to ask, instead of the first. Enjoy.
One of the things people continually come here looking for is some form of the question, “What’s the cost of living in the Philippines?” So, of course, I write often on that subject … see Real Cost of Living, Philippines or Philippine Questions — Cost of Living as just a few examples.
But one answer I frequently give is one that many don’t care to hear …
Philippine cost of living is one of the last things you should ask about.
- 1 Philippine cost of living is one of the last things you should ask about.
- 2 Related Posts
- 3 Readers who viewed this page, also viewed:
- 4 Share this Article:
Why? Simple. Since you are reading this article in a country with Internet access, and likely reading from your own house and using a computer that you own, there is very, very little chance that your present country has a lower cost of living that here in the Philippines. (by the way., if I’m wrong on that guess, write me and I’ll be happy to write about your paradise as well … inquiring minds want to know.)
Can you attune yourself to the “norms and standards” of the Philippines?
Believe me, although I personally don’t have too much trouble with this, it can be a problem from time to time … and all too many Americans I know of came here, drove themselves crazy over the need to adapt, and finally often went home in disgust.
The Philippines is not going to change to accommodate you. You are going to change to accommodate the Philippines, or else.
“Else” are consequences like the number of retired Americans I know who live here and are on heart medication and have other health issues because they are constantly at war with the way certain things are done here … and although, as General Sherman said, “War is Hell”, trust me, being on the losing side is a lot worse than on the winning side.
Make no mistake … if you come here convinced that you can show the Philippines and the Filipinos a “better way” and they are going to adopt it and do it your way, you will lose, so save yourself the price of a ticket.
Here’s a few examples you might find illuminating based on current experience and a few techniques for coping with reality:
Sales Are Final:
Even if you buy from the largest, name-brand stores and you buy top of the line products .. you will not be able to return them and get your money back. Period. End of conversation.
This will be a huge thing to many who are used to say, going to the hardware store and buying more than they need to finish a job, and then taking the new, unused materials back .. or buying a shirt for someone in two different sizes and taking back the one that doesn’t fit. Grrr. (in the years since I first wrote this I have heard from a few people with more favorable “return” stories, but believe me, those are still the exceptions, not the rule)
Once Anyone Has Your Money, Good Luck Getting it Back:
The lady who runs the business office at my local Mercury Drug store is named Sally. We have an internal family joke, because to ourselves we call her “Long, Tall Sally” like the famous Little Richard song. We remember her name by thinking of her as Long Tall Sally, because she is actually short and round … kind of like me LoL. But why do I know her so well? She works in the back office and is seldom seen by customers out at the prescription counter? Easy.
About a year ago I came in and got prescriptions worth about 1700 Pesos. I didn’t have a lot of cash in my pocket so I whipped out my trusty local bank account debit card and charged the drugs. Or tried to.
“Sir, it did not go through, please try again.” OK, I did.
“Oh sir, please try this reader here, it still didn’t ‘take’.” So, I did. Still no joy.
And then, again, another try. Unsuccessful, yet again.
Rather than try a forth time, I dug deep, found 1700 pesos, got a receipt (OMG do not ever lose your receipt) and went on my way. Can you guess what happened?
Of course you can .. my bank charged me three separate transactions of P 1700 on that day, when I had already paid cash.
Long story a little shorter, Sally worked diligently and got two of the erroneous charges credited back to our account in a few weeks, but the final extra charge took 2 more months and I forget how many trips to the drug store to see Sally. Thank you Sally.
Lesson learned? Don’t ever, under any circumstances swipe your card more than once … and if at all possible, no bank or other business will release money voluntarily, even when they all tell you they are sorry and readily agree that the mistake is theirs and not yours.
Don’t Trust Anyone To Do Even Simple Tasks:
A couple months ago I was on my way to Zambales, two hundred kilometers or so north of our home here in Marilao, Bulacan, and I stopped at the first rest stop on the NLEX (Northern Luzon Expressway), just near out house.
I really only wanted to check the air in my tires, but my tank was close to one half, so I pulled to the pumps first and told the friendly young attendant, “Full tank, diesel, please. Automatic shutoff, walang tullow”. (always tell them to use the automatic shutoff, or else they will try and try and try to squeeze the last milliliter into the tank and always manage to dribble (tullow) fuel down your fender). Simple enough. Or so I thought.
When the man came back to the window to collect I thought the amount seemed a little higher than I expected, but fuel almost always costs more on the toll roads, so I paid him, pulled over to the attended air pump, gave the guy there my accurate tire gauge, What It Means To Be An American, Or A Filipino , got blown up, and was soon on the road. Anybody guessed what is coming?
Sputter, Sputter, Surge and Stutter
Yep, in a few miles the car started surging and running funny. Luckily there was another gas station coming up, I pulled in, opened my tank filler door, (the one with the big bold Diesel label), opened the cap and smelled the unmistakable odor of gasoline.
Three hours of draining the tank, flushing, priming and so forth, plus a full tank of Diesel this time, and I was on my way.
Anyway, that’s just a few recent adventures in customer service here in the Philippines. I’ll save the one about my bank changing the name on my account and telling me I couldn’t access it for another time.
Do you see why I say asking questions about the price of things in the Philippines is not the most import factor in living here?
If you think you will go ballistic or have a stroke when someone takes your money and doesn’t give it back, etc., then this may well not be the place to live.
Consider carefully, because once you move here you are not in Kansas any more.