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Customers say they weren't informed

True Spa hands over operations to company Subtle Senses and sends out notices, but customers say they weren't informed. -TNP

Fri, Jul 16, 2010
The New Paper

[Above - ON THE SPA TRAIL: Sign on the door of Subtle Senses spa (previously True Spa) at Cuppage Terrace when The New Paper visited on Monday. It instructed customers to go to the other outlet at Ngee Ann City.]

By Joanna Seow & Geraldine Yeo

THEY had signed up for expensive beauty packages.

But when several customers of the True Spa chain turned up for their appointments recently, they found the name of another spa - Subtle Senses - on site.

Though the information was published on True Spa's website, the customers claimed they were not informed of the business change.

They also griped about how they could not redeem the remaining value of their packages at both outlets, which they could previously.

Now, they can use their packages only at Ngee Ann City and not at the Cuppage Terrace outlet.

On True Spa's website, HealthTrends Group, which owns Subtle Senses, had promised to "honour all current True Spa... packages".

Members "will continue to enjoy the same range of facilities at the current premises of Ngee Ann City and Cuppage Terrace and utilise the same services within their existing packages under the brand names of Subtle Senses", it added.

Mr Patrick Lim, 36, a marketing manager, claimed he could not redeem certain services for the same price with the bonus dollars he had earned from his $5,000 package with True Spa.

"If I want to redeem a body massage or facial using my bonus points, I was told I would have to pay $225 (in bonus points) , whereas it would have cost me only $150 if I paid by cash," he said.

>> 'Not a takeover'

'Not a takeover'

True Spa is one of the brands under the True Group, which also manages True Yoga, True Fitness and True 'Est.

Subtle Senses took over operations of True Spa on Apr 25. On the same day, Health- Trends Wellness Clinic, also under the same group, took over operations of True 'Est.

A True Spa spokesman told The New Paper: "We would like to emphasise that it was not a 'takeover' but a transfer of business operations to Subtle Senses.

"The brand name True Spa is still owned by the True Group. The change simply means that Subtle Senses will take over the operations of True Spa at Ngee Ann City and Cuppage Terrace and offer its services under the Subtle Senses brand name."

She added that True Spa had over 9,000 customers.

A customer in her 30s, who wanted to be known only as Gloria, visited the True Spa outlet at Cuppage Terrace on Monday evening only to find it closed and renamed Subtle Senses.

"I called them last Saturday and was told my appointment was confirmed for today," she said. She hadbought a $3,000 package.

When The New Paper was there on Monday, a sign on the door directed True Spa customers to the Ngee Ann City outlet.

At that outlet, four of the five customers we met said they were unaware of the change. Before it took over True Spa's operations, Subtle Senses had an outlet at Mosque Street near Chinatown.

Housewife Magdalene Ng, 54, claimed that customers who turned up for appointments were not guaranteed the treatments they asked for.

"It's been over two months since they changed management but they are not settled and things are a bit messy," she said.

Church administrator Wendy Teo, 50, alleged she had trouble making appointments - a complaint shared by some True Spa customers in the past.

"Sometimes, I'd call from morning to afternoon and still can't get through," she claimed.

Subtle Senses told The New Paper that many of the problems it now faces involve the booking systems.

When spa chain Wax in the City suddenly closed down in March, Subtle Senses was one of the companies that offered to take up the balance of customer's packages.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said it has received 23 complaints about True Spa from 2007 to date. The chain opened its first outlet in 2006.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said it has received four filed complaints against True Spa this year.

He said: "Consumers should not be involved in any pre-payment scheme offered by beauty outlets if there are no mechanisms put in place to protect consumers' payment. Consumers should pay as they use."

Previous << >> Subtle Senses answers complaints

Subtle Senses answers complaints

Customers claimed they were not informed of Subtle Senses taking over the business operations of True Spa

A Subtle Senses spokesman said that "at the point of transition, both parties were responsible for informing their own customers".

He added: "It is understood that True Spa had a stable of 9,000 customers. With that large a customer base, some have unfortunately slipped through the cracks in the communications and are only now coming to know about the change."

A True Spa spokesman said that the transfer of the business operations to Subtle Senses was finalised on the evening of Apr 24, and that True Spa had sent e-mail messages to customers and posted notices on the True Spa website that same night.

Notices were also displayed at the outlets on the same day and press releases were sent to the media the next day .

Customers claimed they could use their packages only at the Ngee Ann City outlet

The Subtle Senses spokesman said: "This was due to groups of customers showing up at the outlets to air grievances over things like not being able to make bookings.

"Many have been verbally abusive. For this reason, the management has tried to localise these cases... without disrupting the delivery of services to other customers."

The True Spa spokesman said the company is "not in a position to comment on the services" provided by Subtle Senses since it has taken over operations.

Customers complain about booking problems

The Subtle Senses spokesman said the company "has worked tirelessly and single-mindedly to resolve these issues by changing old and inefficient processes to bring better service to the customers".

But, he added, change takes time and the management has appealed to the customers to be patient.

Why did True Group choose to work with Subtle Senses?

Because Subtle Senses is "one of the most popular and reputable spas in Singapore and has won numerous awards in its seven-year history", the True Spa spokesman said.

Subtle Senses' CEO, Mr Gerald Lim, was also Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007.

The spokesman added: "As a significant percentage of the True Group's total revenue is generated from yoga and fitness, we have decided to focus on these two business units in Singapore."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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