Newest Review: ... mean I needed to speak to his colleague. 5 minutes later a Chinese girl walked into the store from the shopping mall and started talking ... more
Herbal-Inn Never Again
Member Name: Carysb
Advantages: Good Offer, Good Location
Disadvantages: Poor customer service, Poor massage skills, Poor communication
Herbal Inn Ming Imperial is a chain of Chinese medicine shops which began in 1989 and now exist up and down the United Kingdom. These herbal shops offer a medicine, consultation and service. When you walk in you almost walk into the counter, behind which are containers full of various herbs and Chinese remedies.
Each shop offers the following treatments; Acupuncture, Deep Tissue Tuina Massage, Herbal Facial, Reflexology, Herbal Remedies and Allergy Tests. These treatments are carried out in store. Behind the counter you can see several curtained off areas where these treatments take place.
Recently Groupon were running a 62% off on deep tissue massages or acupuncture sessions and for £19 rather than the usual £50 I paid for a massage hoping to redeem it on my day off. I had booked the 1 hour Tuina Deep Tissue Massage. A form of Chinese massage which uses brushing, kneeding, massaging, rolling and pressing of the body and its muscles.
Last week I checked www.herbal-inn.com for the number of my local branch (Basingstoke) and called to book. The receptionist was Chinese but spoke fairly good English. She took my surname and Groupon code. I also thought they took my phone number. I was booked in for 2pm today.
On arrival I was met by an empty shop all but a Chinese man sat on a wooden chair in the waiting area. He wore a white jacket and looked like he worked there so I explained I had a 2pm appointment for a massage.
He said "colleague" which I took to mean I needed to speak to his colleague. 5 minutes later a Chinese girl walked into the store from the shopping mall and started talking to the gentleman. She then asked me whether I had any problems. I explained I suffer with back pain but nothing to stop me having a massage. She said that if this was the case I shouldn't have the 1 hour massage I should instead have a 30minute acupuncture session and 30minute massage. I refused, stating that I had book and paid for a 1 hour massage.
The girl then told me that if this is what I wanted I would have to wait 30minutes, "perhaps go shopping and come back". By this point I was less than impressed and pointed out that her diary had me (and only me) booked in for 2pm. I was advised that they only had one "doctor" working today and he was busy. Refusing to go shopping I said I would wait, as I waited, I watched the "doctor" eating his lunch in his office. As it turned out, the wooden chair was so uncomfortable that I physically couldn't sit in it for 30minutes and instead took myself off to Waterstones.
At 2.30pm I returned and this is where the service really excelled itself. The Chinese girl and another man were both sat on the chairs. I was then asked to take a seat for a few minutes. 5 Minutes later she showed me to a curtained cubicle and said to take my shoes off and lie on my back. Odd.
Fully clothed, but not very warm I did as I was asked. 5 minutes later the "doctor" silently walked into the room and started rubbing my eyebrows, followed by an area under my temples. Then my hands, arms and shins. After 20 minutes he said "turn" and indicated with his hands I should turn onto my stomach. He then rubbed my neck, back and the tops of my legs down to the Achilles.
The overall massage was weak; at no point did the "doctor" identify any of the sore pressure points that I can point out within seconds on my back/neck nor did he ask. When he was I felt a heavy thud on my back and he said "finish" before walking out of the cubicle. In total the doctor said 2 words to me in an hour.
At no point did I have any idea what was going to happen next which meant I was twitchy and couldn't relax. The whole massage was fully clothed and I was wearing jeans and a cotton t-shirt so there was minimal effect and I couldn't really feel any benefit of the "massage". I was also cold which would have been evident in the goose-pimples which appeared on my arms after half an hour.
Whilst on my back I was supported by two very comfortable pillows, but when on my stomach these had been removed and the "doctor" had ripped a hole into the paper to allow me to put my face in the table. This was fine, except that at no point did he check whether I was comfortable and throughout when he was putting pressure on me, my face was being jarred into this gap which left me with a headache and delightful lines across my face in the middle of town.
Throughout this experience I had the pleasure of listening to relaxing sounds of Kestrel FM, the local radio station, between bouts of white noise and a fairly loud volume with the speaker above my head.
Once the "doctor" has declared "finish" I was left on my own. And nobody came to get me or offer me water or in-fact do anything. I left the shop very unimpressed.
I can honestly say that I have never had a treatment of this nature where what is being done hasn't been explained to me, nor have I ever not been asked if I am comfortable, been fully clothed or asked to sign a health declaration prior to treatment. I have always received advice to keep dehydrated and not do anything too strenuous after a treatment but again this was absent.
The massage itself was poor and inconsistent. I had one side which received more attention that the other and the "doctor" worked from 1 side of the table only meaning than he had to lean over me or pull my arm across my body in order to work on it.
I have no experience of the selling which I have read up about on other reviews and my exchange took place over Groupon. However, I can honestly say that I will never return to this company for a treatment and I would have been horrified if I had paid the full price of £50 for today's massage. The website is misleading as it shows pictures of those enjoying a back massage with soft white towels covering their lower back whilst having bare shoulders. Instead I just feel uncomfortable where my clothes have been rubbed into my skin and have not felt any impact of the massage at all.
Summary: Branch of Chinese Medicine/treatments