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The top 5 scams massage therapists need to watch out for

by Samantha Jenkins July 24, 2019

Faceless unknown unrecognizable anonymous man with digital tablet computer browsing internet.

Have you ever received an email or a phone call that didn't sit right? There was something strange in the way the person asked you a question or the offer on the table just seemed too good to be true? 

Sadly massage therapists seem to be the target of some common scams. Below we will outline 5 different scams we have come across in our research so you can spot the scammer and protect your massage therapy business! 


1. Rotten refund 


Perhaps the most common scam seen in recent years is an email or chain of messages that at first seem like a fantastic opportunity! Someone is getting in touch to arrange a series of massages for a group but they live out of town or out of the country and need to pay by credit card or cheque. The con is they will overpay and ask you to take a cut for passing the cash on to a driver. Afterwards, the payment will bounce for being fraudulent leaving you seriously out of pocket and possibly caught up in a money laundering case. 


Facebook post from Annette Rainbow about scam involving over payment


It is worth noting some of these can be genuine opportunities and clients can be unaware of how best to book a series of treatments in one go. However, there are a number of giveaways to tell who is bogus and who might just be a bit clueless! 



Facebook post from Katrina Corral about arranging massages for large groups



Anyone who is not willing to speak on the telephone is a big giveaway, after all.... 



Facebook post from Diana Pacifico Morro about speaking on the telephone for a large payment



It is worth keeping in mind that these scam artists will stoop extremely low in order to win your trust. 



Message from scam using cancer treatment to win trust

Message from scam artist using cancer treatment to win trust



Explain to the client that given the unusual circumstances you will need to ensure a few things are in place to secure the booking. Ask to speak on the phone, or better still Skype or another video call service. State it is always nice to be able to introduce yourself face to face as to not scare off any legitimate clients! Ask to take credit card details upfront in accordance with your cancellation policy but state that payment is preferred in cash on the day. Any mention of paying a driver or overpayment, back away and report it to the police. A group of construction workers is a common scam so be extra vigilant if this crops up.


2. Caught out by a complaint 


Jennifer received this slightly suspect looking email... 



False complaint scam email sent to Jennifer Coyle



Luckily Jennifer contacting the BBB direct who were able to confirm it was a scam. 


Facebook post from Jennifer Coyle about a false complaint scam


Whilst emails like this can appear to be official on first glance always do your due diligence before clicking any links or sending away any personal information.


3. False advertising 


In recent years this next scam has claimed lots of victims but there has been some good news too! 


Facebook post from Victoria Borrill about being scammed out of £2000 for false advertising spots



Reiki master Mark explains how it works in this short video. 





Massage therapists have also been targeted with offers of connecting therapists to different communities including police and other emergency services, LGBTQ and the NHS. 


 Facebook post from Sue Jaycock about false advertising scam



Unfortunately, this is a scam, taking money for advertising that never materialises. One scam artist was successfully sent to jail but there will be copycat cases out there! 



Facebook post from Leanne Richardson about another false advertising scam


4. Social media services 


We all know finding the time and energy to market your massage therapy services on social media can be difficult. So it is easy to see why this would make massage therapists an easy target for a scheme based on offering marketing services for your website. These offers can also present themselves as something entirely different to begin with. 


Tamika received this message online. 


Message sent to Tamika Barnes on Facebook about marketing services online posing as a client referral



At first, this could seem similar to the examples above, however when Tamika took the call things took a different turn. 



Facebook post from Tamika Barnes about a scam where someone is offering their marketing services to gain access to website


It speaks volumes about a person if they present an opportunity to you as one thing and quickly change tactic once they have you on the phone. This is a massive red flag and whilst, in this case, it is fairly easy to spot the scam it raises an interesting point about allowing people access to your website and social media accounts. 

However tempting an offer might be, never give access to your website or social media accounts without ideally meeting in person, checking their credentials and making sure their business is legitimate. You could end up with your website being hacked, your reputation damaged and some serious costs both financially and in terms of time when you have to recuperate your online presence, 


5. Dodgy directories


Many massage therapists reported receiving messages offering to include their massage therapy business in a directory, bringing them lots of new customers and starting off with a free trial. Sounds good right? But there's a catch ..... 



Facebook post from Richard Watson about directory messages which charge to reply



The scam is you are being charged extortionate amounts to reply! 

Other directories will start off with a free trial, then introduce a charge promising more leads are on their way. With no guarantees and a likely scam, invest your time and money into more productive marketing strategies. 


A final note - not all scammers are strangers! 


Sometimes scams can come from unlikely scenarios.... 


Facebook post from Erin Finn McDermott about attending an event in exchange for a booking


Networking with other professionals can be useful however there are time wasters in all walks of life! Whilst it is healthy not to give into cynicism, a little caution can protect you from those who would take advantage of your time, expertise or resources. If an opportunity like this presents itself go for it BUT don't be afraid to call someone out! Mention your busy schedule and ask for the booking upfront. If they keep avoiding making an appointment, get in touch to say you are looking forward to their event and that you need to get them booked in. If they still won't book, don't burn bridges but get in touch to say something has come up and you will no longer be able to attend. This way you avoid creating bad blood and you don't waste your time.  


Some massage therapists can beat themselves up about the time they spent on these scam emails and it is easy to feel annoyed and drained by these experiences. But these things do happen to us all! Learn from every experience and try not to give in to the negative energy! 


Facebook post from Ashley Bowman about receiving her first scam email as a massage therapist


Have you encountered any of these scams in your career as a massage therapist? Are there any scams you have experienced that aren't on our list? Please help us to support our fellow therapists by sharing your experiences on our Facebook thread!


Samantha Jenkins
Samantha Jenkins


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Massage Table Size Guide

Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!

A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.

The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because

  1.  They are smaller in size (normally around 61cms wide) and as such have less materials
  2. They are sold by specialist retailers who also sell anything else they can import and turn a profit on. As such they just buy the cheapest massage tables they can find in China. They go for smaller sizes as they are cheaper.

Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.


The Width of the Massage Table:

Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.

Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.

Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.

Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.

If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:

Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.

measuring the width of a massage table

Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.

The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.

You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.


The Height Of the Massage Table

Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.

A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:

1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.

The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.

You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!

There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.

1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):

If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.

2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):

The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.


Massage Table Shape:

The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.

1. Rectangle shaped with square corners 

This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.

2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners

Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.


3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient 

A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.

This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.


4. Hour glass shaped with sharp gradient
Same as point above but instead of the it gradually going from wide to narrow, the massage table changes quickly from normal width to narrow width so people of very short stature can get in close.
5. Oval Shaped

 The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.

oval massage table


Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!