100 masseuses in Phuket complain of 150 baht massage shop

PHOTO: Masseuses protest a 150 baht massage shop allegedly owned by foreigners. (via Eakkapop Thongtub)

Local massage shops in Phuket are complaining that another massage shop allegedly owned by a foreigner is offering unfair and possibly illegal half-price services. A coalition of about 100 masseuses banded together to file an official complaint, gathering at Phuket Provincial City Hall to ask for action from authorities on the matter.

Karon Traditional Thai Massage Community Enterprise Group led other Phuket massage shops in uniting against a shop that is offering massage services for 150 baht, half of what is standard for massage shops in the area. Protesters held signs that said “150” and “300” along with more verbose messages urging 150 Massage by Ked, a shop accused of being financed by foreigners using shill Thai people to skirt laws forbidding foreigners from involvement in massage businesses, to stop its price-dropping.

“Kata Karon Community Enterprise Group came to ask for fairness. We have been open for 10 years and never had a problem. But when you come in and turn [prices to] 150, you hurt a colleague in the same profession, you make him die alive.”

The protesters demanded standards and fairness saying that before the pandemic, 300 baht per hour was an agreed standard price, and signs proclaimed “Covid was bad, 150 will break us” along with “We share the same occupation. Please, be creative. Don’t hurt yourself.” The crowd chanted “150” for about 40 minutes before Phuket Vice Governor Anupap Rodkwan Yodrabam responded by inviting representatives to meet for discussion.

The Vice Governor vowed to go to the area next week to talk with low-priced shops damaging the other massage businesses in Phuket. The direct and positive response was greatly appreciated by the crowd, who ceased their protest peacefully. It was a triumph, after appeals to the mayor of Karon and district-level officials had failed, that when they appealed directly to Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, they got a sympathetic and decisive response from the Vice Governor.

Before Covid, where massage parlours were among the first and longest to be ordered closed by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, about 10,000 masseuses worked in Phuket and are finally starting to recover from the devastating financial effects of the pandemic. The protest leader explained that many shops were forced to close without tourists during Covid lockdowns, and their recovery now is threatened by this business’s undercutting costs that are attracting customers off the street and online.

“The cost of operating a business is higher than the actual income. It is not possible to offer the service at 150 baht per hour. It also impacts the confidence in Thai massage as well as the value of wisdom and science behind Thai traditional massage in the eyes of foreign tourists.

“The shop that cuts the price is a shop with foreign owners who act like capitalists. The investors initially opened one shop in Kata followed by branches in other areas of the province. They set their price at only 150 baht per hour, causing suffering to other massage parlours. Therefore we ask to sеt a flat price which would be fair for all the parties.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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