Joyre TCMedi Spa at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre (Source: Joyre TCMedi Spa Facebook account).

CASE issues warning to consumers against aggressive pressure sales tactics in the beauty industry

Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”) issued a warning to consumers in a press release on last Friday (26 July), for them to take caution against aggressive pressure sales tactics that are used by the beauty industry during purchase transactions.

CASE said that consumers who do not wish to enter into a purchase transaction have the right to decline and walk away and that those who encounter such pressure sales tactics can approach CASE for assistance.

In 2018, CASE said that it received 1,829 complaints against the beauty industry. Specifically, 344 of these complaints were made by consumers who complained about alleged pressure sales tactics, which was an 18% increase from 2017.

In response to the consumer complaints, CASE then issued warning letters to entities that had complaints of pressure sales complaints alleged against them. CASE warned them on the number of complaints received by consumers and of their obligation under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (“CPFTA”).

Under the CPFTA, it is an unfair practice for a supplier to exert undue pressure or influence on a consumer to enter into a transaction. CASE had also entered into Voluntary Compliance Agreements (“VCAs”) with entities where they agree to cease the unfair practice.

CASE then stressed that it takes a serious view against entities who persist in egregious conduct in their push for a sale transaction. CASE intends to engage such entities with the view of entering into VCAs with them.

It is also monitoring entities which have entered into VCAs very closely and will not hesitate to refer errant suppliers to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore for investigation under the CPFTA. Consumers who encounter suppliers with egregious conduct can approach CASE for assistance.

Meanwhile, it advised consumers who plan to purchase beauty services to take note of the following:

  • Patronise a CaseTrust accredited spa and wellness businesses. These businesses offer a five-day cooling off period for consumers to seek a refund of unutilised services if they do not wish to proceed with the packages signed. These businesses also provide a stress-free treatment as they are not allowed to engage in sales pitches during the treatment.
  • Exercise your right and walk away from a dubious deal with unclear terms or aggressive pressure sales tactics. Be polite but firm when stating your refusal. You can consider bringing a friend or family member along and/or call the police if you are barred from leaving. Remember that you always have the right to walk away and should never be restrained from leaving.
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed, uneasy or intimidated during the sales pitch, request to stop the treatment session and leave the premises. Refrain from making any financial commitments.
  • Beware of “special discount” or “one-time-only” offers. Staff may take the opportunity to push packages and leave little time for consideration.

“Seek medical consultation. Before committing to any beauty treatment or packages, it is advisable to seek the opinion of a medical doctor,” CASE added.

However, it is not mentioned if CASE would be able to assist to help consumers to retrieve money paid for packages that were signed under duress.

TOC understands that CASE would typically help to write letters for disgruntled consumers to the offending businesses and hope that the businesses would return the money out of good-will which they don’t.