Beware Prices that Look too Good
Today’s episode of Just Sayin’ is a little different in that I’m going to share my recent experience using a Groupon certificate.
A few weeks ago it was my birthday and my lovely cousin/friend Cousin D, suggested we were both long overdue to have a massage. We had talked about going to a ‘real’ spa for a treat but time and money factored in and when I suggested to D that we should look on Groupon for discounts to spas and found a few, she offered to pay for mine as a birthday gift and we’d go together. The one we chose was not far from where we live and we got to choose which type of massage we wanted for 45 minutes plus an additional 30 minute foot massage. Sounded heavenly, but was more hellish.
I did what I thought was my due diligence in reading the many reviews saying how wonderful their experiences were at the massage salon and the photos seemed like it was indeed a nice spa-like atmosphere. Its location and address is in a busy, thriving neighborhood, and the half price deal through Groupon was tempting at $60 a person, so D purchased the certificates.
D asked me to call and book our massages. The Asian girl who answered the phone had a difficult time understanding me. I was asking to book on the coming Saturday and she managed to tell me that I could come at 10am or 5pm. As those weren’t my ideal times to go, I proceeded to ask her about the following Saturday (almost 2 weeks in advance) and she gave me the same time availabilities. By then I caught the drift. I asked her if by any chance if those were the only available times on Saturdays for Groupon certificate holders, and she chuckled and said yes. After asking her why she didn’t just tell me that from the beginning and having to explain what I had just said 3 times I went onto the next topic of asking if they are registered massage therapists and could get a receipt back to claim back from insurance. she said yes. Then I proceeded to try and book. I didn’t have the voucher numbers, D did, so after 20 wasted minutes on the phone I couldn’t book. So D called them back with the numbers.
This past Saturday, D and I went for our massages. We were given the address which was located on a busy street in a retail plaza but when we got there, found the place was around the back of the building with no signage in front. I was already leery,
We walked into the small salon and had to fill out a lame form. I’m saying lame because I’ve had hundreds of professional massages through the years from a woman whose house I used to go privately to spas through my travels and no matter where I’ve gone, the first visit they normally have me fill out a form asking about health questions, issues why I am having the massage, any medications I’m on, a few more usual things and then sign a disclaimer. This form basically asked for name, address, phone number, email, date of birth, and occupation. I didn’t bother filling in the last two. And found out there was not going to be any type of receipt that could be used to claim back from insurance.
The older Asian woman at the desk in the tiny reception area proceeded to ask us what type of massage we wanted, offering a variety of choices from deep tissue to hot stone and about 5 more in between. The place was deserted so I asked her which masseuse specialist is on duty for that time and what does she specialize in. She responded by telling me her masseuses do every kind of massage. I smelled a rat. I’ve been at enough spas to know that when there are several types of massage offered there are several masseuses because they all specialize in one or two types of massage. I normally love a hot stone massage, but have had a few crappy ones in my lifetime and really needed my neck and shoulder worked on with deep massage so I opted for that.
The reception lady asked us if we wanted to go separately in rooms or have a couple’s room, which we opted for to enjoy together. After we were instructed to get undressed down to our underwear and hop on to the tables, within a few minutes 2 young Asian girls came in. I was to have the deep tissue massage and D was have Shiatzu, only the 2 girls seemed confused as to who was having what and stood there for about 5 minutes chatting in their language before they each chose one of us to work on.
The massage part before the foot massage was to be 45 minutes. About 15 minutes into what was supposed to be my massage she was still warming up my body with the blanket on, rubbing my back in one spot as mother would rub a child’s back. I began getting tenser by the moment with displeasure. I finally lifted my head and asked her when she was going to start the massage and was she going to take off the blanket and use some oil. She chuckled that innocent little girl ‘oh yes’ chuckle and began rubbing my back in the same spot and method she had done with the blanket. Again I lifted my head, trying my best to not scream and with disciplined and forced patience I reminded her I came for a deep massage not a pat on the back. She began jabbing her elbows into my spine, certainly not a spot that felt good and didn’t bother to move her hands around to feel where the tight spots were. After several loud bursts of ‘ouch’ from me from her continuous elbowing my spine I snapped.
I wrapped the blanket around myself and sat up and pointedly told her that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. My cousin knew my patience had worn thin and I didn’t hear her moaning of any pleasure herself without having to tell her girl where to massage and repeated requests of asking for some pressure, but at least she was having some sort of massage.
Cousin D’s masseuse began speaking in her language to mine and my girl walked out. For another 5 minutes I just sat there and told D this was ridiculous and I’m getting dressed and waiting in the car. In that moment, an Asian MAN walks in our room, introduces himself as the manager and asks me what the problem is. I recapped the experience to him but I couldn’t make out much of what he said other than he’ll send in another girl and add back 15 minutes of time. By that time, the FULL BODY massage I’d paid for 45 minutes was well into half hour passed and the first girl had barely massaged only 1/4 of my lower back, hadn’t even touched shoulders or neck. The new young girl proceeded to start over with the ‘warm up’ and I told her to get moving with the real massage. By that time I was so tense from frustration and wanting to slap them all in the head that it would have taken a good masseuse to make me unwind. But no such luck.
I told her to work on my neck and shoulders, but she never once addressed any of the knotted tension spots on my upper back and never touched my neck where my tension is always held and was ready to combust. She then moved down to my calves, not massaging them but merely making a semi circle with 2 fingers on each hand and running her hand up and down my calves for about 30 seconds. And then she proceeded to attempt to give me a foot massage. She bent back my toes then pulled each one in succession and began Karate chopping my calves for another few seconds then asked me to turn over so she could do my arms (after reminding her she hadn’t yet touched them).
During this time my cousin’s massage was still ongoing and I could hear her pleasureful moans as her foot rub continued for some time. When my girl barely touched my forearms and hands for a few minutes I asked her if that toe rubbing thing she did on me was my foot massage, she chuckled with her naive laugh and said yes. In that moment my cousin’s timer went off, indicating her massage had come to an end and my girl put the blanket on me and informed me I was done too.
That was it! I darted up from the table and my anger and frustration was unleashed. I asked her how could my massage be over when my cousin and I started together and I’d lost nearly half an hour of nonsense no massage and waiting for another girl, and I was to have time lost made up. And then I blasted her for rubbing and pulling my toes for 2 minutes and telling me that was a half hour foot massage. I asked her if a foot massage was supposed to feel good because I wouldn’t know it. I told her that nobody knows what they’re doing in that place and it was the worst massage I’ve ever had in my life with not one but 2 girls. I continued to mutter my frustrations under my breath as I scurried to get the hell out of that room. My cousin followed not saying a word and I had no words left to say or I was going to scream at the top of my lungs at the disgusting, unqualified service they offered.
The woman at the desk proceeded to inform us we could leave a tip. I looked at her with death eyes and said in shouting voice “Are you kidding me????” I stormed out the door shouting out loud all the way to the car how horrendous that place was.
Lessons I learned:
- Groupon reviews I read must have been bogus
- When calling to book an appointment somewhere and communication isn’t understood with a receptionist, it’s a big indicator of worse things to come.
- When you’re not asked at booking time what type of massage you are booking, it’s another indicator you’ll be getting a Jill of all trades, or maybe of none.
- All signs that lead to misunderstood conversations and disorganization are a certainty for disappointment.
I will add after relaying my ungratifying massage situation to my sister, she informed me Groupon had tried to get her business to sign up with them to bring her more business. After she investigated how beneficial it would have been for her business – giving away car cleaning services for half price and minimal cash back from Groupon she declined to be part of it claiming it was an option for them to make money, rather than for her as she’d be giving away labor-intensive work time to hope she gets a few more customers from it.
It’s possible that some of the Groupon certificates may be worthwhile such as certificates for discounts in restaurant or entertainment but I highly recommend reading the small print for services, and I’d call the business to inquire before purchasing vouchers.. Often there are many exclusions and inclusions that must be adhered to in order to get the benefit from the coupon.