Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Are Spas Conning the Public?

© Nao. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.

Spa con we could call it—spa goers sign up for, are provided with and pay for “foot reflexology” services yet they receive a foot massage. This has been a common problem for any number of years. However, as reflexology moves from a treat to a treatment—an expectation from consumers for a relaxation service to a health-providing service—the issue becomes more urgent. Urgent for sap goers, reflexologists, massage therapists and spas themselves.

Let’s start the discussion with the experiences of two friends. Both went to high-end spas, one in Albuquerque and one in Dallas. Both asked and paid for “foot reflexology.” Both left the spa knowing that what they had received was not reflexology. Sally was particularly outraged. She loves foot reflexology (as done by Kevin anyway) and she’d paid $100. (Emphasis hers) Joan paid $45 in Dallas—discounted from the usual $65 because of the newly hired massage therapist/reflexologist. Joan was kinder in her comments since her “reflexologist” was a young relative. The “reflexologist” did confide that she really didn’t know what she was doing; had received one day of reflexology training in massage school and had been instructed by her spa supervisor: Do a foot massage. Just rub harder.

(Take a break from this blog and express your outrage here. Misrepresentation of foot massage as reflexology means the idea gets shortchanged. Incompetent services demean reflexologists who have worked for, literally, generations to build the reputation of reflexology as a health-giving service.)

Under these circumstances—bait-and-switch with foot massage substituted for reflexology—everyone loses. The spa-goer doesn’t receive requested services. The massage therapist / untrained “reflexologist” is placed in an awkward and unethical situation. The spa loses future income: the customer may not come back, will certainly not purchase “reflexology” services at this (or potentially any other) spa, and could file a complaint with the attorney general’s office under the Fair Practices Act, failure to receive purchased goods or services. Plus, dissatisfied customers tell others, further impacting future possible income.

So what’s the solution?
• If you’re a spa-goer, ask before you book: Has the reflexology service provider completed a course of study in reflexology? For more tips, see www.reflexology-research.com.
• If you’re the massage therapist / reflexologist at a spa, consider getting educated in reflexology. Expand your skill set and become the “foot person” at the spa.
• If you’re a reflexologist, here’s a chance for a job. Work out a deal with a spa.
• If you’re a spa owner, admit you’re actually losing money by failing to provide adequate, let alone expert, reflexology services. Hire a reflexologist. Get your reflexology service provider educated.


Amy said...

I've had dozens of clients over the years voice their complaints of receiving this unsatisfactory experience you describe here Kevin. Some have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, others have demanded refunds since they deemed the act a "bait and switch" tactic. I too have been a victim of this type of advertising and had a chat with the manager. Sometimes the managers don't have a clue what Reflexology actually is but it is a "buzz" word in the industry so they feel obligated to offer it on the menu.

Spas that falsely advertise having a Reflexologist on staff end up discrediting the work of their other talented staffers!

Gaetane Reimer said...

I am a certified Reflexologist who is constantly acquiring more knowledge to offer quality services to my clients. I live in a small town and I get frustrated when clients think that all they are getting is a foot massage. I spend an hour or more giving the reflexes a good "workout". Some people still ask for a body massage and 15min job on the feet. I always explain that Reflexology is not a massage but when spas incorporate it as just part of a body massage, the Science of Reflexology gets missed. Writing articles and advertising the true science of Reflexology does alot to promote this wonderful modality !

Ien in the Kootenays said...

How disgusting! Yes, this needs to be fought. Great comments.