A beauty salon in Jurong East has closed down, leaving its customers with at least $20,000 worth of unused pre-paid services.
Bioapex International sent a text message to its customers on Monday saying it was in financial difficulties and had to "shut down the operation immediately" at its premises on the second floor of Block 135, Jurong Gateway. Its landlord had terminated its tenancy agreement, it added.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) had received 18 complaints as of yesterday.
However, unlike in similar previous cases of beauty salons closing down, Bioapex - which had been operating for 15 years - did not leave its customers high and dry. It has made arrangements for them to continue their packages at another salon, The Best Beauty Centre, without any additional payment.
Case said that consumers had unused sessions and estimated them to be worth more than $20,000 in total.
The consumer watchdog receives more than 1,000 inquiries and complaints about the beauty industry every year.
For the past five years, it has ranked among the top five sectors in terms of complaints.
Ms Cynthia Tee, chief executive of The Best Beauty Centre, said that Bioapex International approached her on Tuesday to ask if she could help. "I agreed to help because I didn't want the beauty industry to suffer a bad reputation," she said.
Bioapex had about 1,000 customers, half of whom were active, she added.
Ms Frances Huang, 28, a senior financial consultant who has been a Bioapex International customer for four years, complained to Case the moment she received the text message.
Now that she knows she can go to The Best Beauty Centre's five outlets, she will hasten to finish her sessions, worth about $700, "in case they change their mind".
Consumers who buy pre-paid packages should be aware of the risks, advised Case executive director Seah Seng Choon. "Even if they get a judgment against the business, there is no guarantee that their monies can be recovered as the business may not necessarily have the funds to pay."