It hasn't been a good start to a lifetime together for the couples who paid for bridal packages at Sophia Wedding Collection, only to have the bridal shop close down without warning and the proprietors go missing.
Most of the time, when a pushy salesperson tries to strong-arm us into signing up for a prepaid package, there are only two things on our minds: how much money we can "save" by signing up for the package, and how to stop the salesperson from breathing down our necks.
On the other hand, not too many of us really think about whether the company will fold before we get what we paid for. Here are four types of packages to be wary about signing up for.
A large proportion of Singaporean couples sign up for bridal packages before they get married. These packages contain one or more of the following components-a pre-wedding photoshoot, wedding and ROM planning services, gown and suit rentals, and hair and makeup.
The number of bridal companies out there has escalated in the past few years, and those couples who attend bridal fairs are likely to be even more dazed and confused. A highly competitive bridal industry might provide couples with more choices, but it also means companies are eating up the competition like sharks in a swimming pool.
If you're afraid your bridal company is about to shut down, or if your dealings with them have been nothing short of dodgy or difficult, you might want to pay for wedding insurance (yes, it exists!) so you'll be compensated should any disaster befall your nuptials.
Spa and beauty packages
Spa and beauty service providers rely on repeat customers to make money. If you've come once for a massage, you can be sure the spa is hoping you'll be back at least 11 more times-which is why after being served a nice cup of ginger tea a friendly salesperson will proceed to spend half an hour trying to sell you a package.
Unfortunately, spa businesses also have the reputation for shutting down unexpectedly and leaving their customers decidedly unrelaxed, as happened in 2010 to customers of Coslab.
Whether you're going for slimming treatments, massages or manicures, don't sign up for spa packages with money that you can't afford to lose. It might seem like great savings at that point in time, but unless you're buying a package for a well established brand (and those tend to cost a bomb), there will always be a level of uncertainty involved.
Gyms in Singapore have the dubious honour of having the most aggressive salespeople on the planet. After taking you on a "tour" of the gym, don't be surprised if they measure your body fat and then start insisting you need to gain 40kg of muscle and lose 50kg of fat.
While many people sign up for memberships at the big gym chains without a second thought, assuming that like McDonald's these establishments will never fold, if you're joining a smaller gym you need to be wary, especially since annual gym memberships can cost over a thousand dollars.
Exercise and hobby classes
So you've always wanted to learn to belly dance or speak Swahili? Hopefully you'll have mastered these exotic arts after signing up for a package of 10 classes. However, schools and studios are businesses just like any other, and just because your teacher has killer abs doesn't mean there's no chance he'll just shutter the doors of the school and disappear one day.
Before you sign up for a set of classes spanning several months, other than being sure you can actually afford to do so, you should also check to see if you're all that committed to attending the sessions.
Book that 10 week tantric yoga course only after you've ascertained that you won't be going away on a 4 week business trip smack in the middle of it.
This article was first published on MoneySmart.
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