SINGAPORE: An elderly Singaporean was allegedly charged S$99 for a hair treatment despite intending to only get an S$8 haircut.
As reported by the Chinese media outlet Shin Min Daily News, On 10 November, an 85-year-old man visited HairFun salon, a salon located in Ang Mo Kio at Block 410 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at around 9 am.
Initially, the 85-year-old sought a haircut, a service priced at S$8 for non-members.
Interestingly, the salon’s promotional poster indicated that members could get a haircut for only S$4.
As recounted the elderly man’s son, Mr Xu, mentioned that it was his first visit to the salon, where he had accompanied his mother.
“When he came back, he was complaining about how he spent S$99 there for hair treatment and felt it was unreasonable.”
Son expresses bewilderment over allegedly unnecessary hair treatment suggested to 85-year-old father
Describing his father’s confusion, Mr Xu highlighted his 85 years of age and full head of white hair, emphasizing his bewilderment at the staff’s recommendation for the nourishing treatment.
The salon’s manager, as reported by Shin Min Daily, confirmed the provision of hair treatment services.
“Previously, it was S$199. Now we are having a promotion, so it’s S$99.”
Furthermore, the manager indicated their policy to promote this treatment to all customers, irrespective of age or gender.
However, when the Shin Min reporter inquired with a customer who had availed themselves of the S$8 haircut, they mentioned that the staff had not suggested the treatment to them.
Consumer watchdog flags at least 15 complaints against HairFun chain
When questioned, Melvin Yong, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), revealed that the consumer watchdog has received 15 complaints against the company that operates HairFun since the beginning of the year.
HairFun has outlets in Toa Payoh and Tampines. The complaints were not limited to the specific branch Mr Xu’s father visited but extended to other branches as well.
“The affected consumers complained that the business exerted undue pressure on them to purchase hair care packages, ” said Mr Yong.
“The affected consumers also complained that the business charged them for packages or services without obtaining their explicit consent.”
According to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act 2003 (CPFTA), it is an unfair practice for businesses to exploit consumers by exerting undue pressure or influence to facilitate a purchase.
Consumers encountering such unfair business practices can contact the Consumer Association for advice and assistance (Hotline: 6277 5100, Website: www.case.org.sg).
Another salon entity warned for long-standing false claims and pressure sales tactics spanning 2017-2022
Certainly, HairFun salon is not the only salon entity embroiled in the consumer dispute.
In May this year, Singapore’s Competition and Consumer Commission (CCCS) issued a warning to another salon, Salon One Beauty Salon Pte. Ltd. and its affiliated entities, for Claiming “Herbal Head Spa” treatment able to prevent brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and brain stroke, and employed pressure sales tactics
The investigation, conducted under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act 2003 (CPFTA), revealed that between October 2017 and August 2022, the Salon One Entities were found guilty of several unfair practices.
In a statement issued on 18 May, CCCS revealed that the entities falsely represented to consumers that there were price discounts for basic haircuts, when in reality, these discounts never existed as they were discounted from prices that were never offered.
Furthermore, the entities made unsubstantiated claims about their “Herbal Head Spa” treatment, asserting that it could prevent Alzheimer’s disease, brain stroke, cerebral infarction, cerebral thrombosis, cerebral haemorrhage, and enhance memory.
“Such representations were also made to certain consumers who were not able to reasonably ascertain if the claimed efficacy and health benefits of the treatments existed.”
Moreover, the investigation revealed that the Salon One Entities employed persistent sales tactics, pressuring customers to purchase services or products even after they had declined or expressed no interest.
CASE received more than 1,400 complaints against businesses in beauty industry in 2022
CASE President Melvin Yong confirmed in a separate statement that they had received over 130 complaints against Salon One since January 2017.
Mr Yong confirmed that in 2022, CASE received more than 1,400 complaints against businesses in the beauty industry, where one in four complaints related to misleading and false claims and pressure sales tactics.
Mr Yong also hoped that the CCCS’ enforcement actions against Salon One end a strong signal to the industry that businesses will deter businesses from engaging in unfair practices that are detrimental to consumer interests.
To address the persistent problem of unfair practices in the beauty industry, He calls on the government to mandate a cooling-off period for the industry.