'Consultant made me feel so fat'

PHOTO: 'Consultant made me feel so fat'

SINGAPORE - One consumer, Miss Y. Teoh, 25, visited a slimming centre in March for a trial treatment, but ended up buying $6,000 worth of packages.

She claims: "The consultant prodded the fats on my thigh and made comments like 'such a waste' and 'do you want to spend the rest of your life like this?'

"I'm 50kg and 1.6m tall, but the consultant made me feel so fat.

"The three hours of sauna treatment and electrical muscle stimulation also made me hot and giddy.

"When my credit card was maxed out, the consultant even 'escorted' me to the ATM to withdraw cash."

After contacting the Consumers Association of Singapore, Miss Teoh was eventually refunded $2,800 and given $4,500 in credit for other treatments.

Another customer, who wanted to be known as Madam Yong, claims she was pressured into buying a second package to comple ment her first at a beauty salon last year.

She says: "The consultant went one step at a time, saying the first package wouldn't work without the second one.

"Before I knew it, I bought so many treatments I didn't need."

Says Mr Andrew Lee, a marketing lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic's Business School: "It can be quite easy to cave in to such selling pressure, as we already live in a society obsessed with looking good.

"People feel that beauty can increase one's self-esteem and let them feel accepted.

"That's why they can be tempted to spend a lot of money on these treatments."

Other recorded tactics: Asking for credit cards on the pretext of checking the credit limit, but charging to these cards without consent.

Claiming the customers condition will worsen, or turn into something more ominous like cancer, without treatment.


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Next: 'Vacuum delivered in 10 minutes...unasked for'

'Vacuum delivered in 10 minutes...unasked for'

SINGAPORE - You don't need to step out of your home to experience a hard-sell.

Some salesmen will come to you.

Consumers say it starts with the promise of a free demonstration at their homes. After this, the salesman will refuse to leave until you buy something.

Madam Yeo Siew Toh, 45, a housewife, bought a $2,200 vacuum cleaner last year, and said the salesman pushed ahead with the sale without giving her time to decide.

She says: "Before I could protest, the salesman called a delivery man, and a vacuum cleaner was brought to my home in 10 minutes.

"The salesman started assembling the device and I was pressured to buy it.

"When I said it was too expensive, he countered by saying I could pay by instalments.

"He also it would help with my son's allergies.But when my son came home, he scolded me, saying the cleaner cost more than his doctors' bills."

After contacting Case, she was refunded about $1,500 in cash.

Mr Leo Boon Wang, chairman of the Direct Selling Association of Singapore, confirmed this was a case of hard-selling.

He says: "The product was delivered without her consent and the salesperson kept talking without giving her a chance to think."

But using free demonstrations as a pretext to enter one's home is a known marketing gimmick, and not really hard sell, he says.

"Both salesmen and consumers need to bear some responsibility.

"Salesmen should not engage in hard sell, while consumers have to be strong-willed to reject if they do not want the products."

He advised anxious salesmen not to partake in hard-selling as it will earn complaints and damage the brand.

"With social media and word-of-mouth, such feedback can spread and besmirch (one's) reputation for years to come."

In 2010, Case launched a one-year campaign to help the public deal with door-to-door salesmen.

The campaign came up after rising complaints against pushy salesmen peddling items like vacuum cleaners and cookware.

In one case, a housewife paid almost $3,000 for four pots and pans after a sales representative claimed the food from her existing cookware was "poisonous".


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