Why it's so Easy to Start a Business in Cambodia

In America, running a business translates to worrying about what potential lawsuits may arise from those money-hungry customers who somehow find a loophole in your foolproof company. I mean, where else can a major fast food company be sued for having too-hot coffee or a Laundromat run by immigrant Koreans be sued for losing a pair of pants? Certainly not in Cambodia…
It seems that one of the reasons why there are so many independent businesses in Cambodia is that there are no unruly customers who complain about every small detail not up to their standards. First-hand experience? Oh, yes...
Julia and I, along with two fellow backpackers, rented motorbikes for the day in Ban Lung in Northeastern Cambodia. It's easy enough to find any Cambodian local willing to run down an abandoned motorbike and charge you $5 for the day to take it out. After finding two motorbikes to share (Julia and I on one with a driver, Bruno driving the second with Dan straddling him), Dan decided to test-drive one. He bravely faced the Cambodian traffic, shifted gears...and turned a corner too fast. He fell off the motorbike onto the dusty gravel road, but luckily, the battle wound was only a deep gravel burn along his right elbow (he was wearing long pants, so no wound on his leg). No big deal, and a small dab of hydrocortisone followed by a Band-Aid covered any trace of an accident.
Later that day, the rented motorbike that Bruno was driving got a flat tire. We followed our guide to a very basic repair shop, and a boy repaired our flat with a piece of canvas tape. Cost: 1000 riels, out of Bruno's pocket. Twenty minutes later, the repaired flat unrepaired itself, and all four of us were grumbling over the second flat tire. Our guide convinced us that he would buy a new tire from town and replace it while we swam at the waterfall we had just parked at. Of course, he later requested the money while commenting that only a caring guide like himself would bother to repair the flat tire and take such good care of our bikes.
In America, any mishap that a customer experiences turns into a finger-pointing contest of whose fault it is. If our motorbike experiences were to have happened in the US, we could have sued this Cambodian local for renting out a rusty, decrepit bike. Of course it's not Dan's fault that he fell off the bike; it's the renter's fault that he didn't properly explain how to shift gears and handle the clutch. And the flat tire that was due to a tear in the tire before we drove it? Any American company would've paid for the repairs at the customer's slightest hint that he wouldn't recommend this company to anyone. Alas, in Cambodia, what you do is your responsibility. If you decide to drive an on-its-last-kilo motorbike, what happens is just another experience to relay to those spoiled Americans back home.

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