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Phuket Triple Pricing: A Restaurant For Haves and Have Nots
Friday, July 19, 2013
Thai beach local
tourist prices, triple tiered. papaya seafood salad (120 baht) sweet and sour chicken (100 baht) steamed prawns with glass noodles (250 baht) shrimp tempura (150 baht) spicy prawn salad with lemongrass (150 baht) sweet and sour squid (150 baht) stir fried squid with salted egg (150 baht) green mussels soup with lemongrass (150 baht) spicy meatball salad (150 baht) glass noodle salad with seafood (180 baht) gren mango salad with blue crab (150 baht) laab spicy chicken salad (150 baht) thai spicy tuna salad (150 baht) mixed vegetable hot and sour fish soup (150 baht) chicken with cashew nuts (150 baht) omelet with crab/shrimp (150 baht) coke (30 baht) mango shake (50 baht) singha leo chang (60/120 baht) wine (150 baht per glass).
MAI KHAO beach is five-star territory these days with great food but mostly at five-star resort prices. For people looking for local Phuket food, although sadly not at local prices, a shorefront thatch of beach restaurants comes highly recommended. The food here is fresh and probably the equal of anything at the resorts nearby. The prawns we were served were as succulent as any we've ever had on Phuket, straight from a local market. What's different, though, is the triple-tier pricing. A rice dish will cost a Thai 70 baht, an expat worker from a nearby resort 80 baht, and a tourist 100 baht. Some people say that double pricing is a sign of greed but to heck with that. The family-run business here is simply trying to meet a market where consumers clearly vary in their capacity to pay. Triple pricing is the result. And who on Phuket could possibly complain? On Phuket, taxi and tuk-tuk fares are always negotiable. And rates at resorts around Phuket all vary, depending on the guest's ability to negotiate a favorable price. A restaurant that positively discriminates to feed the Phuket world doesn't seem like such a bad idea. The menu here is just as easy to read in Russian as it is in English, a reflection of the changing nature of Phuket tourism. With comfortable seating, a brace of electic lights hanging from the ceiling and friendly service, Krua Pru Jeh Son provides plenty of delicious eating options to those who have plenty of cash and those who have less. What could possibly be fairer?
087 7960266 / 089 6572330
Mai Khao beach
How to find it:
Heading north past the airport take the turn in Thepkasattri Road to the JW Marriott and other resorts. Keep going until the road turns left to the beach.
Plenty of parking nearby.
Phuketwan reviewers pay for their own meals. If we don't, we tell you. Krua Pru Jeh Son is a candidate for Phuketwan's Good Value Phuket Restaurant of the Year 2013.
Comments have been disabled for this article.
The prices you note in your "Price range" are from which of the three categories?
July 19, 2013 09:25
The menu prices are for tourists but the other customers are charged lower prices.
Products should be priced according to cost and pre-determined profit margin.
The nationality of the customer should have no bearing on it whatsoever.
Could PW please tell us what the following people should pay
Furthermore since this restaurant and PW thinks it's perfectly acceptable to charge foreigners more, consequently every Thai person travelling abroad should also pay more than locals.
What an absurd idea.
The difference is that such pricing policies would lead to immediate legal action in the developed world and for a good reason.
Racial or nationality based discrimination is not tolerated.
It's remarkable how adamant PW is in making sure people are not lumped into subjective groups like "foreigners" and assumed all to be the same, yet here we see yet another case of PW supporting such utterly discriminatory pricing policy.
In the developed world those who earn more already pay more in taxes.
Maybe we should all be subject to yearly financial audits and have an according insignia tattooed on our forehead to make sure we are charged "what is fair".
Of all the ideas PW has suggested and supported along the years this is by far the worst.
July 19, 2013 10:27
As a Thai business we follow the laws of this country. Prices in restaurants are set by the owner everywhere. In developed countries, where there are not such vast differences between rich and poor, this issue has been resolved. We are far more concerned about lack of controls over taxi and tuk-tuk fares than the price of a meal. As you are probably aware, a simple Thai serve can be priced at 10 times as much in a top class restaurant, even if the ingredients are bought at the same store. Your indignation seems misdirected and ill-conceived. There's also a distasteful anti-Thai edge to it.
Naturally there are far more pressing issues on Phuket but since you decided to highlight this policy at this restaurant and come out in support of it, I felt it was acceptable to comment on it.
Charging different prices at different restaurants has nothing to do with charging different prices at the SAME restaurant depending on the nationality of the customer.
Your statement is of course absolutely true but completely unrelated to this issue.
A salaeng converted to a a mobile kitchen also has somewhat lower monthly overhead costs than a tastefully decorated large restaurant in a prime location.
Cost and profit margin includes a lot more than just raw materials needed for cooking.
I am indeed strongly anti-discrimination and I'm surprised you find it distasteful. I hope I misunderstood you.
Not to drag this on for too long, let me wrap it up with one more question.
Would you support a similar pricing policy applied to Thais who visit lower income countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Burma ?
July 19, 2013 11:19
''Naturally'' . . . Nature has nothing to do with it. Nor is a dining review a reason for sounding off about your own prejudices. The policy we have supported is for individuals to be charged according to what they can afford. A triple-tiered pricing schedule comes closer to that than a double-tiered system.
Just answer the simple question please so I understand you correctly. You brought the subject up in your restaurant review, not me.
Would you support a similar pricing policy applied to Thais who visit lower income countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Burma ?
July 19, 2013 11:43
Theoretical questions are best left to theorists.
You lost your focus now. No racism should be allowed all around the world...
July 19, 2013 12:35
There's nothing racist about positive discrimination based on the capacity of people to pay. There is also nothing in the review to suggest it's a racist policy. We don't make assumptions, but it's likely tourists are charged the same price regardless of their race. To suggest it's a race-based issue is slanderous.
I would tend to agree with ThaiMike but as I now live in the North East problems of two tier pricing at restaurants don't occur. However, a group of us play golf and at times come upon a course that imposes double price for foreigners so we just turn around, go to collect our clubs from the bag drop then somebody comes running to say we can play at the ''local'' price. This course of action has never once failed, nobody likes to lose customers. With a restaurant imposing triple pricing I would suggest to readers that they visit the place, look at the menu, and point out the unfair pricing and walk out. It works at golf courses so try and see if it works at this restaurant.
July 19, 2013 13:03
Indeed, negotiation is sensible for those who can't afford to pay the asking price. Phuket golf clubs have often in the past charged expat residents a lower green fee than tourists.
"To suggest it's a race-based issue is slanderous."
Surely you mean libellous?
July 19, 2013 13:26
Slander is for verbal comments, libel is for written ones, and defamation covers both. i am only making a point, not alleging any defamation has been committed.
The food was good, by the way.
good to know about this restaurant and they policy price.I will never go at this place, im live and work here very long time, but this story about double price for foreign or tourist is something that i can't' accept.Have many place that don't do like this and is full of customers.Thanks for the info about this place. Is not racism,but something very bored for who stay here and work and pay a lot of tax.
July 19, 2013 13:35
Many places you have probably eaten at do the same. It's not unusual.
Ed: One cannot compare with Phuket's golf courses as they are now in the millionaire bracket with fees for a round approaching 7,000 baht. Many of my golfing friends come and stay with us for a couple of weeks or so where we get to play for 300 baht on sports day or 750 baht other days. At Phuket prices one would most certainly have to try and negotiate as their prices are by far the highest in Thailand. Expat residents can take up temporary membership - at a price. Negotiation won't work, I know from past experience.
July 19, 2013 13:51
Today another local news site writes that from 2007 to 2012, Phuket had a 5-year inflation rate of 26%.
But prices for prepared meals and hotel rooms has been fixed for the last ten years reasoned competition created from tourists believing that it is almost at no cost to run a restaurant or a hotel here.
Sometimes local business owners can be very bored of tourist's ignorance. A decent meal costs the same as one drink in a bar, and a hotel room can be rented cheaper than a half hours taxi ride.
Thai customers stay here all year and make it possible for restaurants to survive until the next short high season, so a little discount is expected.
It would be nice if our bellowed guests and supporters would show some sense of proportions before complaining
July 19, 2013 16:27
Question: I'm expat so, if I walked into this restaurant with my long time Thai girlfriend, under which price tier would I be expected to pay?
July 19, 2013 17:03
Your girlfriend would probably need to explain that you were a poor but honest person, down on your luck, and only able to afford the Thai price. You should just smile and nod.
Two solutions for these types of pricing systems.
1. Look at the menu and ask in thai, Laa kaa kon Thai krab.
2. Compare Thai and other menu's then leave.
Do not order anything as the staff will gladly say yes you can have local price then charge you tourist prices. Once it is on the bill you will have a damn hard time trying to get to pay the local price.
I feel no remorse at ever walking out of a restaurant or establishment because of two tier pricing. Two places I have never been to and will never go to, are Siam Nirimit and Splash Jungle. Keep your prices buddy, but I am free to choose.
July 19, 2013 18:07
Dear Local restaurateur
If you and your local business owner friends get so very bored of tourists, perhaps it's time you considered another line of business.
Being so confident in your opinion and customer service policies, surely you don't mind informing us of the name and location of your restaurant.
What all expats should do is to start compiling a list of local businesses that apply dual pricing policies.
Let people vote with their feet.
July 19, 2013 19:19
You mean, the way they already do?
I'm not sure if you refer to the Local restaurateur actually being the owner of Krua Pru Jeh Son (only he can confirm that I guess), Expats compiling lists of double pricing businesses or customers voting with their feet ?
I wager it's the last option. I would like to see every business openly declare if they apply dual pricing so customers could use their own judgment on what they think is right and fair.
Establish a sign similar to the " Clean food, good taste " project and bestow it on businesses that charge everyone the same.
I bet you it would be a magnet for foreign customers and as long as Thais don't pay more than before, I see no reason why they would object either.
As of now many businesses go to quite some lengths to hide their dual pricing policy and all I'm advocating is for that to change.
If they feel it's right and fair, then be open about it and see how customers respond.
July 19, 2013 19:59
There's certainly something to be said for transparency but pricing on Phuket is more diverse than elsewhere because essentially you have a destination growing rapidly in popularity, combined with greed. The family at the Mai Khao restaurant are simply trying to feed people for what the diners can afford. They are not greedy. But cases of greed on Phuket are not hard to find. I fail to see why readers focus on people who are relatively honest and transparent, if you ask them. Could it possibly be self-interest? Far worse rip-offs happen every day. It's time the doomsayers sorted the wood from the trees.
Dear expats, please try to understand that the process from buying food on the marked, prepare it and serve it in a comfortable environment costs money.
Restaurants and hotels here are trying to survive in a free competition market.
Other groups serving tourists just agree a price and their customers pay whatever that price is.
The profit for selling a drink or driving people a few miles is far higher. Would you pay, the entire price for a meal in a restaurant, for one drink in the local bar in your home country?
July 19, 2013 22:02
I can only speak for myself and for me it's about the principle, not the amount.
Where I come from, we place high emphasis on equality and tolerate no discrimination. Charging people according to their nationality would be met with utter disbelief and nationwide condemnation.
I can only speculate that most readers who react equally negatively probably come from similar societies.
You being from Australia, your society is not unlike mine in this regard either.
I'm not claiming this family is greedy, their markups are relatively mild but the whole mindset of overcharging foreigners in Thailand being perfectly acceptable aggravates me considerably.
I would like to ask the owners of this restaurant the same question I asked you.
Declining to answer it makes your rationale for this policy sound decidedly hollow.
It's a shame because the restaurant certainly sounds like it would be worth a visit, but I'm not going to.
Plenty of restaurants around that charge customers the same, regardless of their nationality. Yes, my Thai skills are good enough to figure it out all on my own.
July 19, 2013 22:17
You will find discrimination everywhere. Pricing food according to ability to pay is not even close to the top of the list. How odd that you don't think individual nationality matters yet immediately raise it as an issue.
- Local restaurateur
You are missing the point.
Nobody is saying you cannot and should not make a healthy profit. I don't expect you to be the Salvation Army.
The contention point is the untenable fact that you feel it's perfectly acceptable to charge customers according to their nationality.
Charge whatever you need to make a healthy living but charge EVERYONE the SAME.
That is the essence of discrimination and what infuriates me and probably quite a few others.
Your justification of Thais being year round customers holds no water either because over 50.000 expats stay on Phuket year round too. If you want to offer a discount to your loyal customers, that's great but do NOT base it on nationality.
Furthermore comparisons with prices in other countries are inherently flawed because your raw material, staff, electricity, fuel, rent etc costs are all based on Thai price levels.
Only if you were paying and adhering to, for example, Australian health codes, building and safety regulations and above all, employer contributions, obligations and paying Australian level salaries and taxes, would your comparison have at least some relevance.
I find it difficult to believe you chose to argue your case with such statements.
I say it again - if you are so confident in the correctness of your policies, why not let us know the name and location of your restaurant and see how your clientele reacts.
Since you refuse to do so, you must have some doubt in the fairness of your practices yourself too.
Feel free to prove me wrong by revealing the details of your restaurant.
July 19, 2013 22:49
The policy we have supported is for individuals to be charged according to what they can afford.
This is now not the case, Thaksin being Thai would pay the cheapest price while having more money than most tourists or expats. (You probably will not post this like mine last 2 post.)
July 20, 2013 03:34
As we've said, and as you note, we don't disagree with people being charged according to what they can afford. Nationality has nothing to do with it. Under your ''fair'' system, Thaksin and the world's richest people would pay the same as the local workers living in shacks. Three tiers is actually closer to being fair than one price for all.
Ed, when I ask a perfectly civil question I expect civility in return. Patronising answers are not clever.
I merely asked how does this restaurant differentiate between their customers? Do they ask them on entry what their status is?
I don't need anyone speaking up for me and certainly not explain my financial situation.
Please attempt to answer in a pleasant manner!
July 20, 2013 09:20
The response was perfectly civil and pleasant. Your questions would be more appropriately addressed to the restaurant staff.
Saying one should ignore this type of discrimination because there are far more serious cases is like saying we should ignore theft because people are getting killed every day too.
There is not much I can do about the endemic and systematic, state sponsored discrimination in Thailand but this little piece of that pie I can influence by my own personal choice.
The issue is not nationality.
It's discrimination that in this case happens to be based on nationality.
What a silly comment.
July 20, 2013 09:41
We've never said discrimination should be ignored - people should be told about price variations and their purpose. But your devotion of time and space to a small issue, and positive discrimination at that, indicates a lack of perspective. If you've given up on the big issues, there's no point in fussing over the small ones.
You asked me questions and I responded, as a courteous person would do.
Positive discrimination ?
Yes, I definitely "lack the perspective" to the see the beauty of that concept.
I do what I can within my abilities and power. It doesn't mean I've given up on anything. Certain issues in Thailand can only be changed by Thai people.
Having said that, IMHO PW has done more to bring about positive change on Phuket than any other organization, association or individual I can think of during the last decade I've been here.
For that you have both my respect and gratitude. Disagreeing on certain issues with you does not prevent me from seeing the big picture.
July 20, 2013 10:58
Tourist spots are going to gouge tourists no matter what here. The giving a break to people that live here is good business as it keeps Thai in the mix rather than excluding them. Get over it, or don't frequent the tourist spots, I don't so it don't bother me, I eat at the same price as the Thai in all the other places, though sometimes I get a funny look when I only have the water on the table.
July 20, 2013 11:50
I think you've gone a little over the top in your personal anti-discrimination drive that it has come to be something of a bore. You come across as a person who feels he has a moral superiority over others or one who is self-righteous. Does that count as discrimination in a person? Discrimination is akin to an infectious disease and will forever exist in one form or another. Women are discriminated against, as are blacks, yellows, browns, mixed race, disabled people and the self righteous; the list is endless. Think about airlines and trains - are they discriminating by have two or three tier pricing to suit the haves and have nots? Of course they are, but those that can afford it will pay. Some restaurants offer a similar system by seating the well-to-do upstairs and the others downstairs. If you don't like something don't join it; if you don't agree with a restaurant policy, walk out. Discrimination has been with us since time immemorial and will never be got rid of.
July 20, 2013 11:53
I appreciate and understand the things you point out but this is how I am. If it makes me appear self-righteous and morally superior in your eyes, then so be it.
I'm sure most Phuket business owners who apply double pricing share your sentiment.
Some of your comparisons are valid and others are not.
Charging different prices for different products has nothing to do with discrimination, like you suggest airlines and train companies offering Economy, Business and First Class seats and services do.
Equally offering better seating in a restaurant to better paying customers is not discrimination, it's good business practice.
If the seating was divided based on, for example, race, as was the case in the US or South Africa not so long time ago, that would be discrimination.
What you are saying is like paying for a Toyota Vios but then crying discrimination when the guy next to you paid 20x more and got a BMW M5 instead.
If we all viewed negative aspects of life as something that always has and always will be with us, as you Peter G suggest, we would all still be living in caves.
When I see something that is not right, I don't just "walk out". I will try to do something about it, no matter how futile it might be.
July 20, 2013 12:53
Well, for my money, no matter what price range, this article has bee a waste of words. I have asked how the restaurant singles out the haves and have nots. Ask the staff, isn't really the answer I was expecting, or deserved.
Ed, you have written a piece this restaurant but it's unfinished. Do you really think that I, or anyone else, is going to walk into this establishment and inquire about the price range. I think not!
July 20, 2013 15:40
There is no byline on the review, so you are making an assumption that I wrote it. And if it's such a waste of words, why are you bothering to comment?
Why do you howl over a few bath extra for a meal. Foreigners running a business here are forced to establish a company, pay for visa, work permit and pay tax of an amount they often don't earn. That is discrimination which can be felt.
July 20, 2013 21:21
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