Pressure sales tactics and unsatisfactory services top complaints against beauty salons

Prices advertised on a board seen outside a beauty salon in a photo taken in 2012.
Prices advertised on a board seen outside a beauty salon in a photo taken in 2012.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

SINGAPORE - Aggressive or deceptive sales tactics are the top reason behind consumer complaints regarding the beauty industry, said the national consumer watchdog.

For five years now, the industry has been ranked in the top five with complaints, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said on Friday (July 22).

Between 2011 and June this year, Case handled 485 cases involving complaints about beauticians' sales tactics.

Some consumers complained the beautician withheld their personal belongings while trying to make them buy more products or services. Others reported beauticians using harsh criticism to make them feel self-conscious about their looks or body.

Many such pressure sales occurred when the consumer was undergoing a beauty treatment or in an otherwise vulnerable position.

When in an enclosed room with them, the beautician would make a sales pitch for hours on end, mentally exhausting the consumer until he or she caved in.

Case added that about 20 per cent of all complaints lodged were about unsatisfactory services by the beauticians.

Some beauticians caused injury to clients during the treatment, failed to administer the treatments competently, or acted unprofessionally.

Case receives more than 1,000 enquiries and complaints involving the beauty industry every year. It usually takes up 10 to 15 per cent of these complaints officially and follows up with the business to negotiate for a settlement.

To date, Case has signed letters of undertaking with four beauty businesses to stop their unfair practices, such as pressure sales tactics.

Case currently has 641 businesses under its CaseTrust spa and wellness accreditation scheme.

All CaseTrust accredited businesses have pledged to provide a five-day cooling-off period and a "no selling" policy in the treatment room to deter the use of pressure sales tactics.

Out of the 1,525 beauty complaint cases lodged with Case, 8.5 per cent are against CaseTrust accredited businesses.

Case will be holding a free Beauty Fair on Saturday (July 30) to educate consumers about what to look out for when buying beauty products or services.

The half-day educational seminar will be held at the National Trades Union Congress Centre on One Marina Boulevard from 10am to 1pm.