I’ve just joined the boycott of Asiatique in Bangkok, Thailand. A pity, as I had plans to go for the first time with a Thai friend next week but, after Asiatique management has proven that not only do they seem to discriminate against foreigners in Bangkok, but they also don’t believe in freedom of speech, I am now boycotting Asiatique. Until their management learns rudimentary business skills, that is.
In case you don’t know, Asiatique is a relatively new shopping and dining complex on the riverfront in southern Bangkok. It’s sort of taken the place of the old Suan Lum Night Bazaar after it was closed down but it’s a little more upscale. Everyone I have spoken to who has been there says it’s fabulous.
A Thai friend has been talking about Asiatique for months and wanting to take me, so I’d agreed I’d go with her this month. After all, she’s fun to hang out with, Asiatique looks incredibly cool and I figured it would be a great place to take some photographs for Tasty Thailand.
Needless to say, now I have learned Asiatique discriminates against foreigners, I won’t be setting foot there at all. Not until they change.
So, why are many in the foreign community in Bangkok joining the Asiatique boycott this week?And why does Asiatique now have hundreds of comments from angry foreigners on their Facebook page, most of whom are saying “Boycott Asiatique”? Two reasons:
a) Respected Bangkok blogger Richard Barrow was all excited about the opening of the new Asiatique 60-meter high Big Wheel, similar to the London Eye, until he learned that farangs, or anyone not Thai, was being charged an extra 50 baht per ticket to ride it. Now, 50 baht isn’t a huge deal — after all, it’s only $1.65. What is a big deal is the principal of the thing. Thailand is one of the world’s few countries that still charge foreigners and tourists more money for general admission to specific attractions. It’s discriminatory and it’s racist.
b) When Richard Barrow went on to Asiatique’s Facebook page and politely asked why the dual-pricing for foreigners, Asiatique promptly deleted his post and banned him.
With both of these actions, Asiatique management has proven they don’t understand the first thing about customer service or public relations. If they think charging dual-pricing for foreigners for the Big Wheel at Asiatique and then treating someone so disrespectfully when they ask a simply question is “acceptable behavior”, not one baht of my money will be spent at Asiatique. Nor one baht of the money of many of my friends.
I will also recommend to every other foreigner I know, including readers of this website, that they not visit Asiatique. Not unless they like to support companies that are racist and clueless.
Sad, but true.
Meanwhile — read Richard Barrow’s account of why he was blocked from Asiatique’s Facebook page. Let me say, he’s a lot politer about it than I would have been.
UPDATE — December 17th, 2012 — Since I first wrote this article yesterday, Asiatique has now not only apologized for the mistake it made with its dual pricing, but has also reduced the price so that foreigners now pay the same per ticket as do Thais.
The issue having been solved, I am now more than happy to visit Asiatique for the first time this month and report back here about everything I find there.
Thank you Asiatique. The apology and the price change is graciously accepted.