Maid calls employer for help after being charged $816 for '$40' eyebrow tattoo

SINGAPORE - An Indonesian maid got the shock of her life when she was charged $816 by a beauty salon for what she thought would be a $40 eyebrow tattoo treatment. The amount, which is more than her monthly salary of $500, was more than she could afford. The 30-year-old ended up having to call her employer for help to settle the bill.

According to the maid by the name of Yati, the incident occurred on Nov 8 at a beauty salon in Toa Payoh. 

She was shopping in the area on her day off when she came across the promotion at the salon for eyebrow tattoos.

Said Yati: "Six months ago, I did my eyebrows for $60 at a salon in Lucky Plaza. I was quite happy with the result and thought of doing it again. The staff at the shop in Toa Payoh said she would charge me only $40, so I agreed since it was cheaper."

However, Yati said once in the shop, the therapist suggested she try a "Korean-style eyebrow embroidery" which can last for three years, adding that there would be a 50 per cent discount for the treatment. Yati agreed to give it a try.

The therapist then suggested that Yati buy some skincare products as well, as the salon won't be held responsible should Yati suffer an infection after the tattoo, to which Yati also agreed.

After the session, Yati was shocked when she was presented a bill of $816 - comprising a $680 fee for the tattoo, and $136 for the products. With only about $100 in her wallet, Yati had no choice but to call her employer for help.

Her employer, accountant Madam Zheng, 39, rushed down to the shop with her family. Despite shop assistants claiming that Yati had agreed to the treatment, Madam Zheng suspects the shop assistants had not revealed the price of the treatment to Yati, only stressing that it was "half-price".

See also: Customer says salon's hard-sell tactics cost him $2,180

Said Madam Zheng: "Her monthly salary is only $500, how could she have agreed if she'd known it would cost her two months' salary?" She added that the shop assistants should not have sold Yati the expensive treatment and products knowing that she works here as a domestic helper.

The salon eventually agreed to reduce the price of the treatment to $400, and refund the amount for the products.

Madam Zheng said she would be deducting $200 from Yati's salary for the next two months to pay for the treatment.

When contacted by Lianhe Wanbao, a spokesperson for the salon maintained that the therapist had informed Yati of the price of the treatment. 

Said the therapist: "We have maids and cleaners among our customers, some people are just willing to spend the money. We treat all our customers equally and it is not our job to determine if they can afford it."

Complaints received: Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE)

A spokesperson for consumer watchdog CASE said they have received complaints about the salon employing hard-sell tactics to promote its services. According to its spokesperson, Mr Xie, the salon has five branches, of which only the branch in Bishan has been accredited the CaseTrust logo. The logo assures consumers of fair trading and transparency.

However, Mr Xie revealed that both the Toa Payoh and Bishan outlets have had complaints issued against them for their hard-selling tactics.

This article was first reported in Lianhe Wanbao and translated on AsiaOne.