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Prices are not always the same for everyone on Phuket

Phuket Diner Charges Expats More

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
PHUKET: An accusation of outrageous double-pricing has been made about a Phuket seafood restaurant by a local resort general manager.

The Phuket general manager, who prefers to remain anonymous, says prices on the restaurant's menu for tourists and expats were almost twice the prices on the Thai-only menu.

''I'd been to this restaurant many times before with Thais,'' the GM said today. ''It's a great place with excellent prices and good food.

''However, when I went to the restaurant with three other expats at the weekend and only one Thai, it was a diferent story.''

The GM became suspicious when he noticed the menus were gold edged and different to the ones he'd usually been presented with.

Sure enough, the markups were huge and directed at the GM's table only. He noted the other tables, where Thais were being served, all had the old-style menus.

Presented with the check bin, he confronted the manager and managed to get the bill reduced to conform with the prices others were paying.

The two-menu twist is a variation on the Phuket restaurant with no prices listed on the menu, where management can choose how much to charge customers.

Double pricing remains one of the most contentious quirks of Thailand's tourism industry and gives new meaning to the hackneyed phrase: ''Same Same But Different.''.

The restaurant is in a relatively remote part of Phuket.

Phuket diners will tolerate different prices for the same meal prepared with the same ingredients at different outlets.

But two prices inside the one restaurant? Apparently, it's not on.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I visited a large seafood restuarant in Phuket town years ago where a visiting friend had received a very large bill. The restaurant was using two menus, Thai & English identical except the prices on the English menus were double of those on the Thai menu. I took the menus to TAT and they said it was legal.

Posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2013 08:07

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legal, yes. smart, no..... but unfortunately this type of mind set is rife in Thailand. living for the now, with little regard or planning for the future. So what if you rip off a tourist or two ?. Tomorrow they will be leaving and new ones will arrive. The flaw in the plan is that people talk, the internet today makes that easier than it has ever been. Ultimately the short sighted scams and schemes that go unchecked in the "land of smiles" will be its downfall. As while the Thais are making money today, and not "thinking too much" about the future..... the Burmese, Vietnamese, and Cambodians are ready to steal the tourism industry from under their noses.

Posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2013 09:11

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Price discrimination is a normal practice in the tourism industry. If you check hotel rates, they are often also listed per nationality.
And for main attractions as well. If we would all pay 20 baht to visit the aquarium or zoo, they can't keep the place running. But it is also impossible to charge 500 baht to a Thai.
Just as with bargaining, you end up paying what it is worth to YOU, and not a figure, that in fact is just imaginary, because that's what money is. If you think it's not worth that much to YOU, go somewhere else!!

Posted by Tinkerbell on March 12, 2013 09:25

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Just try the restaurant at Kathu Waterfall, same problem there. So we (1 Falang and 9 Thais) left and went to eat somewhere else.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on March 12, 2013 10:35

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Are you sure it's legal? Thai Constitution at section 30 prohibits discrimination on the basis of origin, language, sex etc...

Posted by Jonathan on March 12, 2013 11:00

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sarasin seafood have a gold menu with special falang price and some items without price, and if you google it seems correct :)

Posted by jonas on March 12, 2013 11:43

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TO be honest i see this as a bit of a non story. WE all know this happens throughout the island and it is something you must contend with. Its part and parcel of the tourism industry here.

Im surprised that the resort manager brought this too light considering that the majority of hotels will charge tourists 500 - 600% markup on drinks in a hotel. example a can of coke in a 7/11 is 8/9 bht and in many resorts on this island about 70 baht.....same same but different.

Posted by Ciaran on March 12, 2013 11:58

Editor Comment:

Please name a resort that charges two people eating the same food in the same restaurant at the same time different prices because of their race.

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A bit of a non-article if you're not prepared to name and shame the place. It's common practice to dual price - ladies despatched into the market this morning to get the local price - it mounts up after a time.

Posted by Mister Ree on March 12, 2013 12:00

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"example a can of coke in a 7/11 is 8/9 bht "
Maybe time you go out a bit more, standard price for a standard coke can is 14 Baht at 7/11. So of course restaurants mark up, but not as much as you indicate, and the difference gets even less since quite a few hotels will charge less than the 70 Baht you indicate.

Posted by stevenl on March 12, 2013 12:31

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Witnessed it many times, not sure this is new news. The latest experience, i forget the name, but on the east coast, just north of of PT. Received a Japanese/Russian/English menu, to which our Thai friend requested the Thai/English menu. Needless to say, it was a lot cheaper. The waiter by the way, didn't even bat an eyelid when we pointed out the price differences. I'm afraid its common in my experiences. I can get the name and shame on here if you want. Rule of thumb, look around and make sure you have the same menu as other groups of Thais.

Posted by Andy on March 12, 2013 12:47

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Obviously this GM is new to Thailand? Rips offs are common practice here not just in the restaurant business! You visited with another Thai, who I am sure pointed out the errors of their ways? If you want to stay here, wise up, learn to speak Thai, choose your "friends" carefully and you will find you get acceptance and respect almost as much as a local....Good Luck!

Posted by Richard on March 12, 2013 13:07

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It is ALL in my Name!

Posted by PhuketGreed on March 12, 2013 14:54

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Ciaran
What are you on about. Firstly it is a story even though we know its goes on and The Thais dont see the full picture of trading possibly tomorrow with repeat spend.This also happens in many other counrtys even the UK with Pakistani taxi drivers ripping you off with the fares unmetered. with their live for today not tomorrow mentality. But our choice just don't use it again!
Then your comments about hotels , do you live here? Because if you do , when has a 7/11 charged 7/8 baht. its a 17 baht for a can of coke and 27 baht for litre bottle. Resorts are totaly different too a 7/11 due too cost of build/location /wages/admin/maintanance and all other running costs. Think before you say same same but different please

Posted by The whites on March 12, 2013 15:04

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Whilst this is not new, it would be good to name venues which do have a dual pricing policy. For a long time i dined at the number 25 restaurant in cherng talay until i realized there were 2 types of menus, Thai/Farang. The Thai menu was 50% cheaper for the same food. Never been back since.

Posted by merv on March 12, 2013 15:25

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@ED

Sure ill name a resort that does that and you name the restaurant in your article.....fair is fair..

Posted by Ciaran on March 12, 2013 16:40

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Did the Thai only menu display the prices in Thai numbers (???,???,???...) or was it just the text in Thai and the prices in western numbers (1,2,3...)?
My objection to double-pricing is in the use of Thai numeral to hides the fact that the prices are different, thus avoiding many an awkward conversation.
If a completely different menu was used then there would be no need to use Thai numbers to avoid direct comparisons, providing evidence that Thai numbers are only used in pricing situations in order to hide double-pricing.

Posted by Phaethon on March 12, 2013 17:09

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GM is new or not in Thailand is not the point. The point is: there are people standing for what they perceive as unfair and others don't. Such practice is done in my Country too but restaurant owners are charged by police if they are caught cheating tourists. Is it the case here in Thailand ? PW will do us all a favour covering stories of farang complaining to police for overpricing and see what is happening

Posted by paul on March 12, 2013 17:41

Editor Comment:

Overpricing is a sign of rampant Phuket greed. But market forces are more effective than any other force.

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There was a BBQ place in Nanai Road that clearly displayed Thai's 99 Baht, Farang 139 Baht and trust me you take a Thai Girl there and she'll eat 3 times what you eat...Thai's pay less at the following, Water Park, The Zoo, The Aqarium, Butterfly World and many many more and so can you if you show your Thai Driving Licence or Work Permit.

Posted by terry on March 12, 2013 18:47

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On a similar note, the wait staff expects a larger tip from tourists than thai customers.

Posted by mikey on March 12, 2013 22:13

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Not only restaurants, I was shown 2 different pricelists for treatment at Phuket International Hospital. The Thai version was around 40% less than the English one.

Posted by Mac on March 12, 2013 22:14

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Those gold-edged menus obviously cost much more money to produce. They have to pass on the additional cost of the gold by doubling the price.

Posted by Somchai on March 12, 2013 23:45

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While waiting to tour one of the US carriers at the Phuket port, I ordered some fried chicken from a vendor set up there for the visiting US military and tour ship passengers. I spoke Thai and was told 20B. A plainclothes US sailor arrived seconds later and ordered the same thing. 70B. I felt embarrassed to be a "local".

Posted by NomadJoe on March 13, 2013 02:48

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@Ciaran
What a ridiculous comment about Cike prices..actually pretty nieve. Here in Australia you can buy a can of beer for approx $2.50...go to a bar or restaurant and same beer is $6.00...and they are not Thai...go figure. Mark-ups happen all over the world but as Ed said it would be a very rare case to find 2 seperate priced menus in 1 restaurant, depending on if your a local or not. Been to Phuket several times and have many many friends both local and expats..this is the first i heard of this.

Posted by UweJ on March 13, 2013 03:41

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Does your GM pay his Thai staff the same salary he pays his farang staff? Foreigners are usually paid seven or eight times what Thais are paid, so I see no problem in Thais being charged less for anything.
This is a non-story in that it doesn't give price examples, and doesn't name the complainant, or the restaurant. Without facts, it is little more than heresay.

Posted by Nong on March 13, 2013 06:06

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Expat and Thai income differ. Price discrimination exists but it's not like expats can't pay for their meal. A GM probably makes a crapload of money, so paying double for anything shouldn't dent his wallet. Farangs should remember that they're in Thailand, and the Thais make the rules. If they don't like the pricing, they can get out.

Posted by T S on March 13, 2013 08:36

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Think the GM has a cheek really, considering resorts sell fried rice for 150+++ baht.

Posted by phuket madness on March 13, 2013 10:55

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@The whites - Your 7-11 charges you 17 baht for a can of coke? My local SuperCheap charges me 8. You should send a Thai friend into 7-11 to buy for you, and your bill will probably be less than half!

Posted by ChileanSeabass on March 13, 2013 11:37

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"Thai Constitution at section 30 prohibits discrimination on the basis of origin, language, sex etc..." This can not be correct otherwise how can national parks charge Thais 40 baht to Thais and charge non Thais 200 baht? Just witnessed that on James Bond Island 2 weeks ago and know it goes on in Krabi as well. Imagine how a Thai would feel if they went to Yellow Stone National Park in the States and there was a sign clearly stating US citizens 20 dollars, and all others 400 dollars.

Posted by 8YearsInTH on March 13, 2013 23:42

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Double pricing is everywhere on the island, which is why we always ask for "la ka kon thai" when we shop, memorise Thai names for the food we like, keep silent when we drive into national parks to avoid the 10 times fee charged. I guess I'm lucky I look Asian...

Posted by May on March 15, 2013 15:29

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The Cottage restaurant in Phuket Town is exactly the same. One price on the Thai menu and another on the western menu. I have even ordered in Thai off the Thai menu and was then presented with the farang price on the bill. I don't eat there any more.

Posted by Ady on March 18, 2013 11:37

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TS you say : " the Thais make the rules. If you don't like the pricing, you can get out. " So what about half asian persons : charged more here and abroad too ? obviousy this racist system cannot work as reciprocity can't apply. The reputation of the Thai nation on this matter has and will have for long far reaching consequences.

Posted by trop on March 18, 2013 13:51

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"Time to move from Phuket" even the smiles are changing.

Posted by Anonymous on March 19, 2013 09:35

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It's a 'non story' but not for the many reasons stated. It is not a Thai phenomenon. When I first came to Asia in 1984, I was based first in Singapore & then Vietnam.

If I wanted a cheap meal in Singapore, I went out with Asian friends. Double pricing for westerners was standard at that time.

Ditto Vietnam. Inflated pricing (more than double) for westerners to public amenities like the zoo, museum & in restaurants was a perfectly normal & accepted practice.

Posted by Logic on March 19, 2013 16:39

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What about the situation now in Singapore, Logic, are prices is still higher for the white faces ?

Posted by trop on March 20, 2013 08:29

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In China, they have officially banned any kind of double pricing, and it happened years ago.
As for resorts charging 70 baht for a coke, the point is not the price, the point is they don't charge a different price because of a persons race. I can take you to Oriental Hotel where they probably charge you 200 baht plus for a coke, but they charge the same to any and all customers.
And speaking of thais earning less on average than a westerner, this double pricing applies to all foreigners, including those from countries with a lower average income than Thailand, so that's also completely beside the point. Plus, there are many many thais that are a lot wealthier than the average farang, especially on Phuket.

Posted by christian on March 20, 2013 12:50

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I would have low self esteem and would not expect from others high esteem if I charged them more based on their race

Posted by trop on March 20, 2013 14:06

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something never mention. how about many hotels charging" companion charge" when we have already paid for the room. why do we have to pay extra. it's that taking advantage of customers...

Posted by Anonymous on March 20, 2013 16:56

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This double pricing is used also by Thai goverment. Eq. National park fees.
Billboards in english language is telling different prices than billboards in thai language.

Posted by samesame on March 21, 2013 20:47

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Two years ago myself and an aussie mate & his thai girl stayed at The Le Meridian Hotel in Chiang Mai in ajoining rooms. We booked over the net with wotif.com. We liked Chiang Mai & decided to stay three more days. At reception they granted our request & my mates Thai girl did all the talking. Her & my mates room was 500Baht a night cheaper than mine (it was the same room next door). I asked why & the hotel clerk said because their room is booked in a Thai name..This is an international hotel chain & they even do it!

Posted by Stuart Mc on April 8, 2013 08:33

Editor Comment:

There is almost certainly going to be some other reason for the difference in pricing. International brands don't double-price. There's no reason for it. But there are sometimes ''specials'' for residents, expats or Thais.


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