It’s no real secret that there are a million “teaching English jobs” in Bangkok for people who are travelling and looking for work, and it shouldn’t be a huge secret that most of these “jobs” are total scams. Usually it’s pretty obvious that it’s all crap because there’s no real office, the people barely speak English themselves, etc. Which is where the company that calls itself FTC Educational Services comes in and changes the game.
I saw a flyer for FTC when I was wandering around Banglamphu in Bangkok, which is right near the tourist area of Khao San, if you’re not schooled in Thai geography (and who is?). It was just stuck to a phone box, and I saw a lot more stuck to walls, next to ATMs, outside 7/11’s – basically most of the places that tourists would be frequenting. It has an email and a number for a man who goes by the name of Arthur, Arthur Wood. So, being keen for some extra cash and adorable Thai kids, I shot Arthur an email and told him I would be willing to teach English until I left Bangkok in three weeks time. He emailed me back really quickly and had great English (first reason I thought it would be okay) and told me it would be around 300 Baht an hour and I could come in for an interview tomorrow, and get free accommodation there if I got the job.
The next day I packed my stuff up and went off to god knows where (about half an hour from Khao San on a motorbike) for my highly-anticipated interview. I marvelled at what a good setup this place had, with their nice offices and classrooms, aircon and free Coke – basically it seemed the part. I was interviewed by Arthur, and he instantly wanted to send me to Hong Kong to teach English for three months, so that I could go back for uni in February. I got a little over-excited, I’ll admit, and thought it was a brilliant opportunity to keep travelling. Arthur continued to explain that the accommodation, the flights, visas, etc., would be paid for and I would also get a salary while I worked. Of course I took this to Facebook and my friend Dean Googled this place for me an linked me to a post talking about what a scam Arthur was running with his wife.
Basically, he wants you to work with no work visa and you don’t really get paid as much as you should for what he charges the students. This was pretty worrying for me and luckily, I met this guy from Leeds, Paul, who was there for an interview as well. He was well-versed in Thai scams (he has a Thai girlfriend and doesn’t want to leave) and this turned out to be the tenth time he’d been messed about. Paul and I discussed how much of a believable scam this was, and made plans to go tell Arthur we weren’t up for work with no visas. And this is where it gets amusing. This is a list of every lie Arthur told me while I was there:
- On the phone Arthur told some woman in China that my flight to Hong Kong was booked for 6 am the next morning, before he even asked or told me anything or booked a flight
- I asked Arthur how long it would be to get a work visa approved, he said one day. I was on China’s website about visas as he spoke, where the Australian waiting period is listed as 4 days
- I asked if we needed a work visa, and Arthur informed me we only needed a business visa, because we would be listed as “Academic Advisors” and not teachers, and informed me it was totally legal to put one thing on your visa application and do something different.
- I asked if we would go to jail if we got caught working without a work visa, and Arthur told me that nobody cared. In China, where you can’t even Google Tiananmen Square. In Bangkok, where you can go to jail for having a few grams of marijuana.
There’s probably more but right now I can’t think of anything except shouting at him in his office for trying to pull the wool over my eyes, and high-tailing it out of there with Paul after I saw how angry he was getting. Moral of the story: if you’re looking for a teaching job in Bangkok, just do it the legal way and have the qualifications you need. I mentioned in my last post that I met people who are teaching English for a year in Malaysia and if you’re reading this and want a teaching job in Asia, comment and I’ll ask them who they work for. Just don’t mess about, don’t have any kind of involvement with Arthur Wood or FTC Educational Services, and make sure you’re doing legal things in countries where Western laws are not the norm.
I should’ve probably written this in a more informative, journalistic manner but right now I just cannot be stuffed. Definitely leave me a comment if you’ve suffered through English teaching scams, anywhere in the world, or suffered through Arthur Wood’s total crap.