Woe is my Visa Run – Problems with my Agency

Can you believe that my agency has just blamed me for my visa run failure?  Not only did they blame me, but they lied to my (email) face.  I’m out a lot of money.  And the worst part?  This isn’t the first problem I’ve had with the agency.

Part of the reason one would secure a teaching job in Thailand through an agency is that they are supposed to make sure all your paperwork is completed properly.  I have been waiting two-months for the paperwork to be ready.  Since the paperwork wasn’t ready within the first month, my Thai boss sent me on an expensive trip to have it extended – 1,900 TH for one stamp.

Again my 30-days are almost up.  Again I have been emailing my agency for instructions with no reply.  Finally my Thai boss provides me with a package of documents – prepared by my agency.  I tell her I’m going to Vientiane.  Why Vientiane?  Because that’s where my agency sent my colleagues last semester – just a few months ago.

As an over-prepared person would, I check the Thai Visa website to confirm I have all the correct documents.  I make extra copies of my passport, degrees, and certificates.  Even though I provided 8 photos to my agency, there are none in my package, so I gather up my last two to meet the application requirements.  The website says criminal record check optional.

I take two buses, each 5 hours.  I leave Thailand.  For the privileged of entering Lao I pay 1,800 THB.  I wake up early to wait at the Royal Thai Embassy.  Three hours to take a number.  Another 45 minutes to get to the kiosk.

REJECTED.  What?  Why?  Your agency should have provided you with a criminal record check.  You need to return to Thailand to get it.  A few frantic texts later, and my Thai boss says to show them my 1,900 THB stamp.  No – we need a criminal record check and fingerprints to make sure you’re not a pedophile.  Go back to Thailand

More frantic emails to Thai boss.  She says the agency says I have to go to Bangkok to get fingerprinted.

So the entire trip cost me about 5,000 THB.  Plus the 1,900 I paid the first time the documents weren’t ready in time.  That’s 6,900 THB.  Two months rent – gone.

So, two more 5 hour bus rides home.

I email my agency to tell them what happened.  Their reply?  “We advised you to go to Suvarnakhet, not Vientiane.”  Well, actually no.  You didn’t advise me to anything.  You ignored all my emails.  If they had said Suvarnakhet, then I would have gone there.  Why would I go to a different place?  And the smoking gun?  The documents you prepared for me are clearly addressed to the embassy in Vientiane.

I’m out time and money.  I’ve been blamed and lied to.  This is on top of providing first late, then wrong documents.  Not happy.

Update:  The agency has apologized for their error and are going to reimburse me for my expenses.

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