When a deal isn’t

When in Cambodia, I love to get pampered. It’s easy to do since you can get a 1-hour massage for $8. So the first few days of my recent trip I tried various massage places, spending as little as $3.50 for a 1-hour massage during its “happy hour” afternoon special.

However, the quality of these massages wasn’t always up to snuff. The women giving the massage weren’t often trained well and they often hurt instead of soothed. One’s thumbs felt like knives as she dug deep. With nearly no English, she didn’t understand my “ow” or “hurts” or even “stop.” I almost left in the middle of one because it was so painful.

(I understand their lack of training as some of these women make $5/day. I was careful to always tip generously because I knew they made next to nothing.)

After several of these less-than-pleasant experiences, I decided to treat myself to a $25 hour-long spa massage. The room was beautiful, lit with fragrant candles and tasteful pictures on the walls. It even had it’s own bathroom with shower in case one wanted to wash before or after. The massage practitioner was skillful and understood enough English so when she was hitting a painful spot she understood my instructions to go lighter.

It was such a wonderful experience, I vowed not to return to the bargain places. Sometimes a deal isn’t — when you get something less than satisfying.

Was the spa experience worth 4 times the others? Yes. Absolutely. No question.

It made me wonder about when businesses offer a bargain-basement price. Are they really winning loyal customers? Are they creating raving fans? Or are they just inviting customers who will be disappointed and then spread bad word of mouth?

When you consider offering a bargain product/service, ask yourself if you are really creating more headaches than you’d anticipated. Because what you’re really doing is rubbing people the wrong way.