Five customers who lost thousands of dollars in unused packages when their hair salons shut abruptly in August took matters into their own hands when investigations dragged on, and now appear to be having some success.
Earlier this month, they approached various salons pitching themselves as a group of ready customers and angling for discounts.
One chain, Vintage Studio, has struck a deal with the group to either take over their packages for a fee, or give them a 50 per cent discount on hair services for a year.
Last month, The Straits Times reported that the police were investigating the sudden closure of a chain of salons under The Scissorhands and Shizahanzu brands.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has received 194 complaints about the chain since all seven outlets closed on Aug 29.
Programme manager Lynn Pan, 37, who has $2,200 worth of unused credit with the chain, said: "This has been dragging on for quite some time already. Frankly speaking, I don't think we will get our money back."
She and four others, who met via Facebook and WhatsApp groups for those affected by the closure, sent e-mail to salons asking for help. The first to reply was Mr Vincent Ang, 34, director of Vintage Studio which has four outlets and a fifth opening next month.
"It's a win-win situation: They get a discount and I get new customers who may stay on if they like the services," he told The Straits Times. "Hopefully, consumers will regain their trust in small and medium enterprises like mine."
Those with receipts from The Scissorhands or Shizahanzu stating the balance in their packages can transfer the remaining credit to Vintage Studio if they pay 35 per cent of what it is worth. For example, a customer has to pay $350 to transfer $1,000 worth of unused credit. Those without receipts can get 50 per cent off hair services for a year if they show proof they filed a police report or Small Claims Tribunal claim. The offer starts next month.
Consumers should be aware the new salon may charge differently, said Case executive director Seah Seng Choon. "Consumers should consider such offers carefully and weigh the benefits and risks of paying an additional fee to take up a package at the new salon."
Case received one complaint involving hardselling tactics at Vintage Studio this month. A haircut costs upwards of $38 at the salon.
Ms Pan is still considering her next step. "I'm very scared of signing another package," she said.