Raspberry Pi 2

Trying to buy a Thai Pi

Synopsis

The unbelievable hoops one has to jump through to buy a Pi in Thai[land] from RS…

Preamble

I was idly reading the BBC News website back in early February 2015, on a boiling hot afternoon in Din Daeng, when I happened across this article about the new Raspberry Pi, Raspberry Pi 2 unveiled with faster processor and more memory. Now, my interest in the Pi had been piqued a while before when they first came out. It seemed like a throw back to the good ol’ ZX81 days. However, the first batch seemed a little too under powered to be useful. However, with this new development, they seemed a much more viable option, powerful enough to use as a mini, portable, desktop machine. I was hooked. I did a lot of looking up, and researching, and saw all of the options available. They certainly seemed useful, having plenty of compatible OSes, plus the Python side of things seemed a good idea.

Where to buy in Thai

I went to the Pi website, and saw the three options for purchasing a Pi:

  • Farnell;
  • RS, and;
  • Allied Electronics.

After trying each in turn they didn’t seem to want to ship to Thailand. After fishing about a bit more I found that there was a Thai based RS website. Whilst fishing about, I also came across horror stories about some Pis were made in the UK and then others (with Red PCBs) were made in China, as demand had outstripped the UK factory’s capability and that they had resorted to outsourcing to manufacture to overseas.  The Chinese Pis were evidently of a lower standard and many broke or were dead on arrival. Not all of them, you understand, but a significant percentage, to fill the web up with people complaining. With this in mind, I thought that RS Thailand may source theirs from China, as it is only around the corner.

Placing the order

This was a nightmare in itself, but coming compared to what was to come…

After ten days of humming and harring (a.k.a. hemming and hawing), I logged on to the Thai RS website, found the Pi 2, where it was saying that they were not yet available but that I could place an order. The price was a little over a thousand baht, which seemed more reasonable than the prices quotes on the UK sites, about 4 quid cheaper. So, I went through the order process, entered in my details, but didn’t create an account. I reached the end of the process and it said thank you very much, and that was it. However, at no point had I been asked to pay with my debit card, and neither had a seen anywhere to click to pay with a card. Now don’t forget that the entire site was written in Thai. So, I clicked back in the browser, which obviously confused it, with it saying “Do you want to resubmit the form?” etc. Anyway, I managed to go through it again, without actually ordering another one, and sure enough there was no way to pay. I was copying text from the various buttons and checkboxes and pasting into google translate and nowhere was there a pay-now or pay-by-card option. Whilst doing all that I heard a ping from the gmail web app, saying that I had received order confirmation. By then, however, I was so hot and bothered, that upon seeing a wall of Thai text, I gave up the ghost and went out for an ice cream.

I waited for the girlfriend to come home and help translate. When she arrived, we went through it again, and she was as confused as I.

After a while I had another look at the order confirmation email, and found that the instructions for payment were in the email, in the form of a JPEG…

Here are the instructions for payment

Pi Thai order
Pi Thai order

I fired off the following email to the address provided in the notice, Orders.TH@rs-components.com:

Hi,

Referring to the attached image (unnamed.jpg), step 2 says that I have to download the **pay-in slip** for the SCB bank.  It is this form that I can not find. Can you please send me a direct link to the “pay-in slip”, as I am unable to find it on your website, or send me a copy as an attachment please.
It would be a good idea to include a link to the pay-in slip download in the “RS Order confirmation” email that is sent to customers.
Also, why is it not possible to select English when viewing the Thai website. It makes it very difficult for English speaking foreigners, living in Thailand, to order items.
And finally, why can I not pay online using a credit or debit card, and instead one has to either pay by bank transfer or download the pay-in slip?
Best regards,
gr33nonline
I sat back and waited. The next day I got a reply:

Dear  Customer,

Thank you so much for your ordering and appreciate your kindly advise / feedback to improve our quality of service we provide. Regarding your query, pls consider refer below reply. Once already make a payment, pls reply slip payment back by this email for our further processing the order.

1)   Pls refer to pay-in slip form per attach file, which 5 banks available for free of charge.

thaireply2

2)   For RS English version when viewing the Thai website, pls following as below step.

thaireply1

1)     Just install Google Chrome

2)     Open web: RS-Online TH

3)     You will see below and beside the URL input box on the right, there is an icon “2 blue box” or something, click on it. Then, Click on option. It show a box for selection to translate what language to what language. Once set, it will auto translate. But not, it will only translate test and not images. Some of our graphics are images. It is good enough to use web.

3)   Yes, you can pay online using a credit card  (Not suitable for debit card), at the “Change Payment Detail” per attach file step.

Best Regards,

Punchaporn

Well, point two certainly put me in my place! So, now, everything was now clear as mud.

Running about

So, time to try to pay. I downloaded the form from the email, and stuck it on a USB drive, from my Mac. Now I had to wonder the streets in the heat to find a printers, as I had no printer of my own.

I found one, not far from my house in one of those internet shops where kids sit all day playing WoW or CoD. A sign on the window said “Print/Scan 2 Baht”. I went inside, gave the chap my USB stick. His PC couldn’t read it! I took it back home, stuck it in my PC, reformatted it and loaded the PDF of the form back on it.

I went out again back to the internet shop. Now, it may not be far from my flat, but in the heat, it seemed like miles. Anyway, it managed to print this time. However, the chap charged me 10 baht! I obviously thought I looked like a mug. However, unusually for me, I was too ill, suffering from heat stroke, to argue.

So, taking the form, not forgetting the USB stick, I had to go to a bank and queue up. Finally, it was my turn. I gave the nice lady, behind the counter, the form and my cash, and she filled it in and stamped it.She passed it back with a wink, I seem to remember.

I then had to go back to the internet shop and get it scanned and put back on to the USB stick. Only 5 baht was charged. OK, at least things are getting cheaper…

Next, I had to traipse back home, stick the USB stick back in the Mac and email RS the scan of the completed form.

A ridiculous state of affairs. Nevertheless, it was done, now I had to wait until Feb 24, when the Raspberry Pi would be released.

It arrives!

It arrived about a week or two after all that, by DHL moped. The box was all crushed, but after extracting the Pi out of the box, it all seemed in order, with no pins bent, so no harm done.

There was then the nightmare of having to find a cheap second-hand mouse and keyboard, from the grumpy tramp at the night market around the corner. I got both for 70 baht, although they did smell of dog urine. I gave them a shower and let them dry out in the sun. I got an original SanDisk 8GB micro SD card from Fortune Town for two quid, loaded Raspian Wheezy onto it from my Mac. However, with no HDMI TV/monitor in the house I had to resort to ssh, which made the urine soaked keyboard and mouse redundant.

Anyway, long story short, it worked.

The moral of the story? Everything in Thailand is a nightmare.

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