I visited the BTCO as my employer had failed to pay me properly for five whole months. I quit, to be told that I now owed them money, and they cancelled my visa in order to force me out of the country before I could really do anything about collecting the salary I felt I was owed.
The BTCO lady cut short her lunch break to call the police on my behalf and find out what happens in these situations - full marks for helpfulness, but not actually much use. When I emailed her, to let her know that I was heading to their office and anticipated being arrested, her response was:
"Thanks for letting me know about your decision. I am not surprised that you decided to take some actions against IACC. However, we are not able to interfere any legal cases here. Hope you can understand. I enclosed some contact details of lawyers and free legal assistance in Taipei. I hope it is helpful with your case.
Can you please give me the full name of IACC? It's just for our file record. But, please keep us posted about your case. If there are any grounds that we are able to be of help, please do not hesitate to let us know."
Make of that what you will. I'm not going to fight old battles twice.
On the business front, I haven't had cause to contact the Brits here, but did while I was in Germany a few years back. The initial result was a bit off a brush off, but I persisted and also contacted the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK.
I ended up with a fairly comprehensive fact sheet, which was a good starting point although not wholly accurate. I wrote to correct them, and wound up going out for drinkies several times with the Secretary for Trade - he subsequently referred business to me several times.
I guess it's all down to guanxi vs official policy. Much as you and I would like to believe that these people are there for us, the truth is that they are mostly there to a) persuade people to buy goods made in our country, and b) to persuade people to go and spend their money in our country.
Helping some poor bugger who hasn't paid taxes in his home country for ten years is not really part of the game plan and that's that. Once you start involving yourself in ordinary people's lives then you quickly become bogged down with all their trivial little problems. FACT: people will almost always ask other people to solve their problems for them if they think they can. Look at all the people who post questions at this site, the answers to which could easily be found with a search through the archives.
Having said that, the US missions abroad do generally seem to have a higher profile and more active policy in supporting their own people. And their are times when a 'friend' who knows the score can solve problems in no time that would otherwise consume your life. Rationalisations aside, I'm still of the opinion that 'our people' are supposed to be there for us when we need them.