Registry planned for spas, beauty salons

-- THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO
-- THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTOTHE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

Six Months Later is a monthly series that looks back at people, events and issues that were in the news half a year ago. This series appears on the last Monday of every month.

Worried that your beautician might not be qualified or think you have been cheated into buying a dud spa package?

These are among the problems that a nationwide database will aim to tackle when it is launched early next year.

As well as listing spas, beauty salons and their employees, the public registry will let customers know who is serving them and their experience in the beauty sector.

Currently, beauticians and spa therapists can volunteer to register themselves. However, the Spa and Wellness Association of Singapore hopes to make it compulsory in the future.

The Straits Times understands that the association has been in talks about the registry with spas and beauty salons across the island, as well as the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and government agencies like the Police Licensing Division.

The association's president, Ms Susan Teng, believes it will improve the image of the sector and make it more transparent, as well as encourage beauticians to upgrade their professional skills.

"By regulating the education of the therapists, it is not just to get a licence but also ensuring that they move up in their career, as well as making sure the entire industry becomes more professional," she said.

Other specialists such as hairdressers, masseurs and manicurists can also register themselves.

However, there are around 19,000 businesses in the sector and Ms Teng is open to working with the other groups like Spa Association Singapore to get more people to sign up.

Complaints about the beauty industry are falling - though it is still the third most griped about sector. Last year, 1,937 complaints were lodged with Case, down from 1,984 in 2012.

Many complaints were about inappropriate sales tactics such as hard-selling spa packages.

The industry has also been plagued by sudden spa closures in recent years that have left customers stranded after paying up front for packages.

The consumer watchdog has already taken measures to clean up the industry by making spas provide insurance to customers who buy pre-paid packages.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said the plan to set up the voluntary online registry is "a good start", adding that it will "act as another safeguard to ensure that personnel performing spa treatment are sufficiently qualified to do the job".

jermync@sph.com.sg

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