SINGAPORE - A young couple thought they had landed a good deal after buying a $33 coupon online for three hours of beauty treatment and massage services at a beauty salon.
However, they ended up $2,180 poorer after being coerced into purchasing a package by staff members who used hard-sell tactics. Three staff members allegedly surrounded the woman's boyfriend to pressure him into purchasing the package.
The incident occurred last Friday at about 4pm at a beauty centre along Clemenceau Avenue. Said 23-year-old adminstrator Mr Hong Ming Ren: "After purchasing the coupon for the deal, we made an appointment with the salon. Once there, we were led into separate rooms."
"During the treatment, the therapist kept trying to sell me the package, pointing out the scars on my back and face and saying that they could be healed with their special oil and equipment."
He added that despite turning her down numerous times, the therapist continued to pressure him, leaving him feeling irritated.
"After the treatment, I was waiting in the hall for my girlfriend to finish, but three staff members surrounded me and continued to try to sell me the package. While one of them explained the benefits of the treatment, another told me about the package prices, and said she was willing to give me a 'student price' and throw in a free treatment."
Eventually, Mr Hong said he was worn out by their 'bombardment' and pulled out his credit card.
"I took out my credit card, and the person just grabbed it from me without a word. The next thing I knew, I was charged $2,180.60, instead of what I expected to be $100 or so."
His girlfriend only found out about the charges later, and returned to the salon that evening to demand a refund.
However, staff members refused, claiming that the outlet manager was not around. Unable to get a refund since then, the pair have since made a police report.
Not the first case
Mr Hong's mother, Madam Tan, 52, said she went online to try to find out more information about the salon. She discovered that many other customers also had similar complaints about the salon and their use of hard-sell tactics to harass customers into buying their packages.
"They use coupons to attract customers, but hard-sell the packages when they get there. Many customers like my son have also been duped."
She added that many of them who complained have been refused refunds. She hopes more people will be aware of their tactics and that her son's experience can serve as a warning to others.
Calls to the beauty salon by Shin Min Daily News' reporter about the case have yet to be answered as of Tuesday.
According to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE), it is unfair for companies to employ hard-sell tactics, and encouraged consumers to lodge their complaints with the Association.
A CASE spokesperson said victims of unfair practices should send a letter to the companies requesting a refund, and stating the contravention to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. If their request for a refund is denied, they can then lodge a complaint with CASE.
The spokesperson added that salons which are CaseTrust accredited are to provide customers with documentation detailing a protection scheme towards the prepaid amount. If consumers don't receive such a document, they should make a report to CASE.
This article was first reported in Shin Min Daily News and translated on AsiaOne.