A viral Facebook post from a Thai woman who paid THB150 ($US4.7) for street food became the talk of town when the vendor admitted she overcharged the woman because the waiter mistook her for a Chinese tourist.
On Monday, Suthaporn Lee said she had a dish of pad kaprow moo grob (stir-fried pork belly with holy basil) at a pop-up stall at Neon Market, but she was charged THB150 for a dish that typically costs THB35-50 (about US$1-1.50) on the Bangkok streets.
The Neon Market is in Pratunam, an area popular among Chinese tourists.
Suthaporn said, “I looked at the bill and asked the waiter, ‘Is this really a Thai price? He said yes.’”
“There are pictures of the food [shown to customers], but I don’t see the prices.”
But when reporters from Amarin TV went to the market yesterday and inquired about the situation with the stall’s owner, she admitted that THB150 is a farang price, and overcharging the Thai woman was a mistake.
Vendor Manee Maitree said that her waiter simply wrote down the price wrong because Suthaporn “looked Chinese.”
Since Suthaporn is Thai, she should have paid THB80 (US$2.5). Manee explained that she typically charged Chinese tourists and farangs THB120-150 (US$3.7-4.7).
“I told her I’d give her discount. She refused, saying she already posted about this on Facebook,” Manee said.
“You know how expensive the rent is here. I don’t wanna talk about it,” she said.
Manee added that her stall doesn’t have a Thai price menu, but they would always tell customers there’s a Thai price available.
When Thai customers walked in that day, they really did unlock the hidden numbers.
“She told me that there’s a Thai price, and the numbers on the menu are farang prices,” Worapan Khunthongchan, a Thai customer, told the TV station.
“A noodle dish costs THB80 [on the menu.] It’s THB60 for Thais,” her friend added.
The story drew heavy criticism from Thai netizens, many of whom argued that, Thai or not, all customers should pay the same price.
“I don’t understand. Who started this? Take advantage of them? Foreigners pay one price. Thais pay another price. We’re their hosts. We should impress them so they can tell their friends about the good experience in Thailand. The government should look into this,” user Boy Neverdies said.
“We promote tourism, but we let people overcharge tourists,” another user wrote.
A female user chimed in with a valid point: “Foreigners are people, too.”
Yesterday, the Ministry of Commerce responded that it would investigate the matter. If the vendor is found guilty of overcharging customers, she could face up to seven years in prison and/or up to a fine of THB100,000.