Robert Phillips - Teacher Recruiter - Part II

[color=darkred]Moderator note: for a previous discussion of this recruiter see this thread:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?t=48626
Due to length that thread was locked. Please post any further discussion in this thread. First-hand accounts, whether positive or negative, are very welcome, as are any further comments by the recruiter himself.[/color]

I had the experience of dealing with Robert Phillips, a well known TESL recruiter based in Taiwan, last spring. It was an experience that I don’t ever wish to repeat.
I didn’t find him; he found me during my job search around late winter of ‘06. I was working a stint as an English instructor in another country at that time. The job wasn’t working out, so I elected to advertise myself online for another job. Interestingly, I didn’t advertise that I wished to work in Taiwan, but Phillips must have been on a teacher fishing campaign because he contacted me via email. He seemed to be a pretty articulate fellow and a big fan of Taiwan. He elaborated on the greatness of Taiwan: the tropical weather, pretty girls, and laid-back lifestyle. True or not, this should have been the first warning sign of a blowhard making unvalidated claims. I also talked with him via cellphone once, but I thought he was nothing special. Mostly we were mulling over the travel agenda and the visa process used down there.
At my other job, I had given my notice and I was prepared to leave the country only if I couldn’t locate a suitable replacement job where I was. As I mentioned, Taiwan wasn’t first on my preference list of places to teach in at that time, as it didn’t offer as much salary and no relocation or visa processing costs were reimbursed. As it turned out, the other guy I was going to cooperate with in securing another job bailed without notice pretty much at the last few hours, leaving me holding an empty bag. My previous employer had gotten the keys back for the teacher’s residence and I eventually decided to head for Taiwan because I had gotten such a bad scare being temporarily homeless and being without the paperwork to process another visa there. Enter Robert Phillips.
This time I contacted him and accepted his offer of placing me in a Taiwanese ESL school. We settled on my arrival time at Taipei airport where I found the driver of the van that would eventually take me to Phillips’ place. It was quite the ride. It felt like we were racing along a highway in a video game. The guy’s van was floored almost the whole way as it weaved in and out of Taiwan’s notorious traffic. There were a couple of other passengers, too. The three-hour drive from the airport to the teacher’s “house” that Phillips had, was often stopped to drop off the other passengers and to switch drivers. I had to race from van to van with my luggage - it wasn’t a relaxing trip to say the least. And when we finally arrived at Phillips’ place in Doulio city I found myself being stuck with the cost of the trip despite Phillips saying that he would foot the bill.
The teacher’s place that he owns isn’t much to look at, and neither is he. I was worried when I first laid eyes on them. The house was in a rather dirty, dark semi-urban area with loud dogs howling around. He was wearing a tanktop with shorts, sandals and with sunglasses dawning his forehead. He looked to be in his early forties with an average build and badly receding hair. I hadn’t envisioned the recruiter I was communicating with earlier to look like an old Beach Boy.
I was growling a bit about the drive when he invited inside the teacher’s house. There was another young teacher there who I was introduced to who seemed O.K. The humidity was incredible inside. I checked around upstairs and noticed the clutter lying around. There was also a mold problem in several of the rooms along with one of the bathrooms which was really gross. Before Phillips headed off that night to his own place, I asked him to find my a job asap, as I didn’t want to stick around the teacher’s place. He said it wouldn’t be a problem, so I reluctantly stayed at the house for the weekend.
On Monday, we went via scooter to the school that was a busride from Doulio. There we met with the school’s management. The school was in a city, but I had no idea that the city was so small, less than 70,000 people, which is really small by asian standards. This would haunt me later on. I met some of the native staff who were friendly, but I was the only foreign teacher. My financial status wasn’t good and I didn’t want to go back to that teacher’s house in Doulio so we arranged to have me work a demo class that evening and set up my pad close to the school. The first demo class seemed awkward. And as the night approached, I realized that this school definitely didn’t want a teacher but rather an entertainer. One class consisted of nothing but me watching the native teacher bang on the whiteboard with a plastic hammer while having the kids endlessly repeat basic letter sounds. I wasn’t at all impressed, and I let the co-manager know this. She said that this was how the school taught its students.
That night, I decided that I wouldn’t show up for work the next day and to wait until someone from the school showed up when I would tell them. Strangely, nobody came so I went to the school late that night and told them. They were disappointed but seemed reasonable. I expected that they wanted me to clear out of the place right away and I would be headed back to Doulio, but the co-manager told me that the rent had been paid for the month. They wanted to be reimbursed; I told them to contact Phillips. Meanwhile I spent a depressing week there again waiting for someone to come and tell me to hit the road. Again, nobody came. That is, until Phillips comes with the co-manager to muscle the money out of me for the rent. My bank balance was really low and I knew that it was going to be real trouble for me to pay it. I told Phillips this but his offer was to either essentially stay stranded at the place or let him find me another school - fat chance! With the rent paid, I had a roof over my head, and I could quickly find another school around the city, right? I told him that I would be going solo and stayed at the apartment. The next day I would find another school to work in (or so I thought).
In the morning, I left the apartment to find the ESL schools in the area. It was a real chore to get around; there were no sidewalks and the scooters were buzzing all around me. In some of the cornered off parts of the city, you could see the pockets of smog-laden air. As the week wore on, I realized that finding another school was not at all going to be easy. The city was too small. There were probably three or four schools in total and none of them were hiring. But I knew dealing with Phillips was trouble, so I elected to transfer emergency money to my hybrid credit card (PayPal), which I knew would be a godsend in a situation like this. However, anyone who has a PayPal card knows that it can be lengthy process to transfer funds to it from a bank account. For Canadians it takes 6 - 8 business days. I knew it was really risky for me to wait out this length of time, but I’d do it rather than dealing with that man again.
It was basically two entire weeks that I spent holed up in that apartment. It was the monsoon season and it did nothing but rain day and night. I survived on instant noodles and bottled water; I figure that I lost about 10 lbs during that time. I occasionally talked to other recruiting agencies based in Taiwan, including ESL Dewey, who were helpful (They also mentioned that Phillips was known to make inappropriate teacher placements, primarily in southern Taiwan.). But it didn’t work out because the schools that they wanted to introduce me to were based far from the city I was staying and I literally didn’t have the busfare to get to the interviews!
Man, it was a bad spot that I was placed in. I remember when I finally received the money on my card at the ATM - I cried on the spot. To summarize the whole thing, I got really pissed and decided that I was taking a stand by not letting a guy like Phillips make easy money on me. The lessons had been learned: Never work in a area that even the natives don’t know about and take special care when dealing with one-man recruiting agencies like Phillips has.

Your complaints sound pathetic to me, and you let a school down because they were hitting plastic hammers on whiteboards.

You should have done more research before coming here. What you list as ‘complaints’ are merely real life in this island most of us have come to call home.

And I don’t see what Robert Phillips did wrong. In fact, he was more than fair with you but you dicked him around. Maybe you should take his name out of the thread title and add your own.

Is this your first time away from home? I’m not being facetious; I think you need a little more experience living in Taiwan before you go complaining about scooters and humidity and agents who get pissed off that you decided not to go into work on your second day.

If you ask me, you’re deeply in the wrong here.

Welcome to Taiwan. Accept the differences to home, and everything will become much more enjoyable. :wink:

I agree with Stray Dog. This what I read of your situation. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

You came to Taiwan without knowing anything about the place or doing any research on jobs here despite the fact that there are numerous websites that could have given you the skinny on this place and on jobs here (mostly in big cities).

Upon coming here, you rode in a vehicle driven by a Taiwanese person. Most of us only write about this experience in a blog or a journal. Not many use it as an argument of why this island sucks…especially since it’s not an indicator of such per se. Anyways, moving right along.

In failing to do any research on Taiwan, you also failed to see that it’s a subtropical island well known for its high humidity thanks to its geophysical features and location. Wall cancer is prevalent in even the ritziest of apartments… which fyi, we usually refer to apartments as ‘houses’ here. Sorry, Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore. By the way, those ‘pockets of smog’ were either old vehicles, a garbage fire, or Kaohsiung depending on the color and smell. We don’t talk about Kaohsiung… :whistle:

So when you complained about the free housing he was going to hook you up with, he goes to find you another apartment which would be closer to the school where you were going to interview. Had you shown a little bit of patience, you might have been able to find something more to your liking and/or budget, but since you were in a hurry, Robert found you something really fast (not an easy feat, believe me you). And yet you believed you’d be able to stay there rent-free. Hmm… :ponder:

Anyways, moving right along with the summary.

So the first day, while you were supposed to be interviewing and demoing for a job (which research about the job market in Taiwan would have told you to expect to do), you criticize your employers’ school and their teaching method. Let me repeat this: You weren’t even working for them yet and you were criticizing how they ran their school. Okay. So you decide that after they hire you in spite of your rudeness, you decide that you don’t want to work there after all so being the ever responsible one, you decide to not show up for work, hoping that someone would notice your…uh, boycott of employment in protest of the use of rubber hammers? Nevermind the fact that you had more or less promised them that you would work for them and left a classroom full of paying students sitting there with no teacher.

So when you try to quit again, Robert offers to help you find another job. You refuse, not having any connections or job tips, let alone a clue about the job market in Taiwan. When he tells you that you either stay at the job or pay the rent, you get snippy. I’m sure that he was aware of your financial situation. He was also probably aware of the lack of jobs in that area. That’s probably why he came to you and told you that you either work at the current school or pay the rent. He, like most people in this world, probably did not want to get stiffed.

Had you done any research about jobs in Taiwan (daveseslcafe.com, tealit.com, taiwanho.com, Michael Turton’s website, hell even googled “teaching in Taiwan”), you would have known that most jobs are in the big cities and there are rarely options in ESL employment when you decide to settle in a smaller town. You also would have found out that Taiwan, not being a tropical country, does not have a “monsoon season”. And that if it did, that most monsoon seasons are significantly longer than two weeks.

If there is any lesson to be learned from your story it would be two things:

  1. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

and

  1. Do some friggin’ research about a country BEFORE you decide to move there.

Let me know if I got anything wrong, please.

I really think you should have tried teaching at the school you were sent to. It might have been OK. Since you had little money, you would have been better off starting there than not working at all. And many, maybe most, of the English schools for children in Taiwan want an entertainer, not a real teacher (though ideally they want someone who is both.)

Well, Stray Dog, ImaniOU and bababa have said it all. :notworthy: :notworthy:

The defense council rests.

600 bucks an hour to have the kids smack a whiteboard with a plastic hammer is pretty good to start, in my experience. As a newbie I played many hammer, stickyball, and dice games while I was learning the ropes. It gave me experience that has enabled me to find better jobs and demand more money.

Too bad about your experience, OP. Better luck next time, lessons learned.

I’ve had my disagreements with Robert in the past but this most recent ‘complaint’ actually gives me a pretty good impression of Robert in this particular case.

It seems that he picked you up as promised, gave you accomodation as promised, found you a job as promised in a very short period of time and at a pretty reasonable pay rate, and was more than reasonable when you screwed him and embarrassed him in front of the school that he placed you at. So basically he honored every part of the agreement that he had with you and you honored none of yours apart from arriving in Taiwan. Perhaps it would have been best for all of us if you had remained wherever it is that you came from.

I think that your post is a good example of the fact that not only are there bad schools and recruiters out there, but there are a some pretty bad ‘teachers’ too. I think that it is a shame that just because you didn’t like what you found that you seem to think that this validates you turning your experience into a ‘complaint’ as there is really nothing in your post that suggests Robert did anything wrong here. The fact that he and the school didn’t call the cops on you to pay up for the accomodation before evicting you suggests to me that they are better people than most. Kudos to you Robert!

Mods - Perhaps it would be best putting this back on that other thread as it shows another side to Robert’s services that was not seen on that thread.

[quote=“brian”]Mods - Perhaps it would be best putting this back on that other thread as it shows another side to Robert’s services that was not seen on that thread. [/quote]I agree that people should hear all available first-hand opinions, as well as comments by the subject of the thread himself. I’m hoping that this last post in the old thread (which I locked due to length) will do the trick:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 731#634731

To OP, basically to repeat everything that’s been said: sounds like you came to Taiwan on the spur of the moment when your teaching deal fell through, and this recruiter fellow put a roof over your head (albeit, not a beautiful place, but mold is not uncommon in humid places, I’m afraid) and found you a job (with paid-for accommodation) pretty damn quickly. You quit the job after they’d already paid for the rent, why shouldn’t you reimberse them? Especially since you have no logical reason for quitting in the first place… You really seemed to be in a tight spot before all this began, and you just perpetuated the whole thing with your dickiness. Way to go.

The weather in summer sucks here at times, it’s true. But it’s been like this for a thousand years or so, so you could’ve looked it up. Also, small towns are nice, and being the only foreigner in a company has its perks as well as its disadvantages.

Does anyone have the recuiters details?

I would be more than happy to live in a small town in Taiwan and get paid to hit plastic hammers onto a whiteboard all day :smiley:

[quote=“pubba”]Does anyone have the recuiters details?

I would be more than happy to live in a small town in Taiwan and get paid to hit plastic hammers onto a whiteboard all day :smiley:[/quote]

Yep I have his number. So call me when you arrive.

[quote=“H_Finkel”][I literally didn’t have the busfare to get to the interviews!

Man, it was a bad spot that I was placed in. I remember when I finally received the money on my card at the ATM - I cried on the spot. To summarize the whole thing, I got really pissed and decided that I was taking a stand by not letting a guy like Phillips make easy money on me. The lessons had been learned: Never work in a area that even the natives don’t know about and take special care when dealing with one-man recruiting agencies like Phillips has.[/quote]

[quote]I was working a stint as an English instructor in another country at that time. The job wasn’t working out, so I elected to advertise myself online for another job[/quote] Seems you run outta jobs quickly…

[color=red]Who placed you in that spot of turning up with no money in Taiwan? You did.[/color] :unamused:

[color=green]Seems like you’ve left Robert holding the empty bag mister and you bailed without much notice [/color]:frowning:

The people here are not responsible for making your life into bliss. You turn up obviously broke and get a job and housing but you don’t like small towns.

Seems you have a hard time adjusting but that aint Roberts fault now is it?

Hello all

I had a very good friend contact me and mention about this latest post about my ineptness as a recruiter. When I talked with this person I told him that none of this sounds familiar to me and it was probably another fabricated story by someone who held a grudge . In actuality this guy was a real person . His story is somewhat accurate

I tell the story and hope you all please just let it slide away…I’ll take my old foes advice and leave all the peoples real names out and since mine is already posted ill ask if you want to carry on discussion just contact me by email…there is never much good comes out of these things for my work. Having said that there are a few of you who were kinder to me this time the previous times…hehe…dont know what to say really but thanks

This lad was in Korea…he posted looking for work…I sent the usual 3 emails out intro myself and Taiwan…send them a 100 times a week.

He was from my home province…thought we had a bit of a connection…The school he is talking about is in Huwei City…not a small town…not a big city It is the best school in the city as far as I can see. It is clean and is run very well. I have placed people there for a number of years. Owners are fair and young and easy to get along with

He told me he was beeing shafted by the people in Korea and the agent there all but abandoned him. He had to be out of his place SAP and was not well off finacially.
I told him about this job here and the terms…54000nt salary…Mon to Friday…1-130pm to 830-9pm…30000nt airfare bonus…2 weeks paid vacation…health ins…ARC…all Typhoon days and Holidays paid…my help the whole year…this is my standard deal to all…pretty fair I believe

He informed me that he was pretty much broke and since he was from my home area I agreed to put cas in his hand when he arrived(This I do for no one) I gave him 5000nt when he got here…had him picked up using a solid transport service that I’ve used for 7 years(never had anyone complain about it) took him to my house…set him up in one of the rooms and introduced him to my local friends and the other new teachers in the house…My house is clean as any in Taiwan…I clean the darn thing myself…arriving here from Canada and Ma’s home it mat seem a bit odd…cause its a concrete and shiity colored 4 story square home like all are in Taiwan…Ill put my hospitality up against any other in the country…any of the 100’s of teacher who have been to my home feel free to speak on this matter

This lad went out with my friends a few nites and it is true that I go stay with my family out in the country where I live…the country…closest 7-11 is 25 minutes away…not many places in Taiwan can say that…I dont stay in this house any more…I have 2 small children to take care of.

I arrange to have him get set up on a scooter or use mine or pay for a taxi service fior a few days so he can stay in my house for free and do his training and settling in at the school for a week to we are sure all involved are happy then I’ll take him out and get him set up in an apartment…he informs me that isnt satisfactory he want to walk to the school…leaves me a few short days to find a spot…tis difficult to do…the school bends backwards and helps me and finds a spot on the same block…not special but not bad…they pay the rent for the first month

He goes to school 1 day and then doesnt go back. They think he must be tired and needs a day rest…he doesnt go back tll the next day and informs them he isnt happy or doesnt like the set up…in any case they are not sure what to make of a person who spends a day there then doesnt come back.

Now here is a part that sometimes makes small problems for me…he doesnt mention it but I will…I work out side of the country for short stints and I actually had to go out for a few days after I got this guy set up…set up not where I wantede him but he insisted I trusted the school to be fine with him til I got back and I am in constant contact with any who need me when gone

They phoned me and asked me where he is…I dont know and cant get in touch with him…I try his email…notta…I get back and go to the apartment and he has it all bolted up and is inside sleeping and I ask what up and he informs me that Taiwan sucks in general…OK…what you want me to do for you…I give him the skinny on the visa process and other jobs I can give him…he doenst want them…he wants the other part of the money I promised him when he got here…I think that isnt fair cause he didnt even stay at the school and isnt going to take any of my other spots…he thinks he should not give me back the first 5000nt…in my spot I cant argue cause people just go on these sites and bad mouth me and others jump on board and say dont trust Robert…I offered to have him driven to the airport or come back and stay in my house while he looks for work but he cant stay here cause he cant afford it…or he can stay but he has to pay back the school…he thinks that isnt fair either…?

He pays up…I apologize to the school again and again and I leave the offer open to this lad and say my good bye

This is but one of many…many…many small things that happens to a recruiter here…I deal with people…young people who rely on these sites to give em an indication of what to expect…if the posts are full of one sided opinions or false claims it hampers me and these new people from finding a decent set up to a good year here…I let every person know exactly what they will be walking into before the arrive and I make great effort to call them and tell them as much as I can about the life here…there are by times changes as we all know Taiwan can be consistently inconsistent…I inform them of this as well…I am involved all year if needed and if you dont need my help for anything after a month then that is perfect

Hope this one goes away fast and regards to all

Robert

I buy Robert’s version of the events.

Some people are shit magnets, and like to blame everyone except themselves for the situations they find themselves in.

It seems like every now and then I come across or hear about another loser who has more opportunities given to them that they probably deserve, and all these people can do is complain about how bad things are and how they deserve more, instead of pulling their head out of their ass and getting on with it. Unfortunately, these people tend to drain all the goodwill and favors out of genuine people and rarely offer much in return, leaving a trail of good people wary to help others to that extent in the future.

[quote=“Truant”]I buy Robert’s version of the events.

Some people are shit magnets, and like to blame everyone except themselves for the situations they find themselves in.

It seems like every now and then I come across or hear about another loser who has more opportunities given to them that they probably deserve, and all these people can do is complain about how bad things are and how they deserve more, instead of pulling their head out of their ass and getting on with it. Unfortunately, these people tend to drain all the goodwill and favors out of genuine people and rarely offer much in return, leaving a trail of good people wary to help others to that extent in the future.[/quote]

Yeah, that’s my take as well.

I agree. Even from the poster’s original post, I could see that Robert and the school were bending over backwards to help this kid get set up quickly with a job and a place to live, and the kid didn’t even give them a chance, preferring to whine and moan when shown more kindness than most would expect.

Isn’t it exactly the same as the OP’s anyway? :laughing:

Yes, all Robert did is give us a few more details than what the spoiled brat gave us. In both cases, the OP painted himself as being conceited, greedy, and quick in pointing his finger at everyone but himself.

I had assumed that he was another Korea escapee. There was something about him that rang several warning bells. Number one, the fact that he sounded incredibly naive, yet thinks that the world owes him. My money’s on he had just graduated from college when he went to Korea and this was his first time being completely out of the nest.

In any case, I believe both of them… that this guy was a loser who is leeching his way through life and dropping debts behind him along his path with his hand held out in front of him. And that Robert has a lot more patience and tact than I would have had, if I had to deal with that little 22-year-old shit. You should have a more stringent screening process when you take on these people, Robert. Seriously, it seems like this guy reeked of loserdom. I know from other people who had been in Korea teaching English that it is nearly impossible to get fired from a teaching job unless you are a complete fuck-up. So far, especially in light of this thread, they seem to have been right.

I will assume that this applies to me, and I can honestly say that this guys complaint and your subsequent reply have probably helped your image more than anything else.

It seems pretty clear to everyone that this guy was a loser and that you got the short end of the stick. You deserve credit for the patience that you showed this guy, and I think that it is clear from the comments above that you are getting this credit.

I think that this is probably the only mistake that you made with all of this. In my opinion anyone who can’t afford to get here and get by until their first pay packet comes in is probably not ready to come here and you would do best to avoid these sorts in the future. It can be expensive setting up in a new country with out of pocket costs such as getting a phone card, getting online, buying cutlery and linens etc. You need money when you come and if you don’t have this money then you are unlikely going to enjoy your time here initially.

What a cheek…that guy…you are far better off without him, and him balining out after one day is probably a blessing. I think that you should give users of forums such as this a bit more credit however. Although it is true that some people like to bash recruiters, I believe that most people are able to differentiate BS from the truth on these sorts of things.

Recruiting is definitely a tough business. No doubt. But the rewards can also be good. There are some companies out there that have differentiated themselves by doing a really good job, and although they still get the odd complaint made about them, the positive comments far outweigh the bad.

You have not been a fan of the site that I am involved with, but hopefully now you can see the true value of that site. Yes, we archive any complaints that are made about you, but we also archive the good stuff. As a result of this and the other discussion about you on this forum we now have more good than bad about you and this is there for anyone who is researching you to see. Keep it clean and we will support you as best as we can.