Phuket Opinion: Fluctuating prices hard to swallow

PHUKET: No one likes being ripped off. Phuket, like many popular tourist destinations, has its fair share of scams, so living here year-round can be frustrating unless you have mastered the language.

During my daily lunch break I often drive to a nearby shopping center to order a quick and filling meal at the food court there. I usually order the same thing; a Massaman curry with vegetables and a fried egg on the side.

This costs between 60 to 65 baht, depending on who is serving. The fluctuating five baht makes little difference to me.

However, familiarity breeds contempt and on occasion I have seen the 65 turn to 75, but again shrugged it off, ate and left.

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One of my colleagues, who is fluent in Thai, would never stand for this and has on many occasions questioned the bill, at this and at other establishments. While he was away recently I ordered the usual, then wandered over to the drinks counter to order something to wash down my delicious curry.

The lady announced I had only five baht of credit left on my card. I looked at the crumpled receipt in my other hand, and saw that I had been charged 95 baht.

Suddenly my food was tasteless and I resented being overcharged after being such a loyal customer. What would my colleague have done? I strode over to the lady who had overcharged me and in broken Thai tried to complain.

She showed my receipt to her colleagues who all agreed with her that 95 baht seemed a fair price. I left vowing never to eat there again.

Within a few weeks I found myself at the food court again and deliberately ordered my meal from another outlet. I walked past the conniving Massaman vendors, but sat in full view of them.

Suddenly, one sat down at my table and slid 35 baht across the Formica toward me apologizing for her “bah bah” colleagues.

It felt great. I was vindicated. The small amount of money involved was not important, but the moral victory was. I now eat regularly at their stall again, the food tastes great and it now only ever costs me 60 to 65 baht.

— Marc Mulloy

Opinion

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