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Discount coupons giving RMTs a bad name: MTABC

The Massage Therapists' Association of British Columbia (MTABC) has clarified its position regarding the use of social media and Internet-based discount or coupon schemes for massage services.

"Along with members, we are concerned that some RMTs are discounting services, and we are concerned about the language that is used in describing treatments," the MTABC said in a statement on its website.


October 21, 2013
By Massage Therapy Canada staff

Topics

There
has been a great deal of confusion of late regarding the use of
discount coupons and discount strategies by RMTs — typical on social media group discount sites like Groupon or WagJag — the
association said. "The MTABC’s position is that we do not support the
use of discount groups for the advertisement of discounted massage
therapy treatments. An exception to this is when the discount is applied
to a product or service other than registered massage therapy."

The MTABC also believes it is inappropriate to use discounts for health-care service.

"As
a regulated health profession, the use of discount coupons, unrelated
to patient need, is inappropriate and unprofessional. It demonstrates
that we, as a profession, are willing to undervalue our expert knowledge
and role within patients’ health care," the MTABC said.
 
MTABC
guidelines, however, do permit reduced fees on a patient-specific basis
in order to allow access to those who are unable to benefit from the
profession due to economic hardship or reduced income. If the patient
has no financial hardship, then discounting a treatment undermines the
education and professionalism of RMTs in B.C., the association added.

As to whether discounting makes good business sense, the MTABC said it does not think so.

"The
premise of discount coupons is that the well-known discount groups
promote the lesser known RMT for a significantly discounted price,
leading to hundreds or thousands of people buying the discount coupon,"
said the MTABC.

"While this may work for restaurants or similar
businesses where mass service is possible, it will not work for someone
that sees only one ‘customer’ at a time. In addition, discount coupon
companies may take 50 per cent of the already discounted service or
product. The discount coupons are available to people from outside of
the RMT’s (geographic) region or neighbourhood which means it is likely
that someone using the discount coupon will not become a return
‘customer’."

The MTABC cited this example: If a regular $90
therapeutic massage was reduced by 50 per cent to $45, the discount
coupon company would take 50 per cent which leaves the therapist with
$22.50.

"This is not pure profit since neither HST, overhead or
payment of a split have been factored in. The business model does not
work and is detrimental to the economic viability and sustainability of
the profession," the professional association said.

This kind of
marketing also undermines efforts of the massage therapy profession to
promote RMTs as primary health-care providers, the MTABC said. "We
encourage RMTs to separate themselves from non-registered body workers
who commonly use this type of marketing."


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