The beauty industry received the highest number of consumer complaints compared to other industries in 2018. Based on Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) reports in 2018, the number of complaints totalled a shocking 1,829. Out of these complaints, 50% were concerned about the loss of prepayments due to abrupt business closures and aggressive sales tactics.
Asia Law Network sits down with Viviene Sandhu, a litigation lawyer from Clifford Law, to understand more about contractual and negligence claims in the beauty industry.
What happens if I buy a discount coupon for a beauty treatment from Fave and the services is not what is promised?
Third-party services like Fave only allow refunds if the request for a refund is made before the cancellation deadline. This is usually 14 days from the date of purchase. However, if you already went for the treatment and you are not happy with the services, you may not be able to obtain a refund from Fave.
If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with the service provided, you can approach the company to request or negotiate for a refund. If your request is denied, you can approach CASE for assistance by lodging a complaint against the company. There must be a legitimate or reasonable basis for seeking a refund, for example, the development of an allergic reaction to the beauty treatment.
Is hard-selling against the law?
Although hard selling is not an offence, it is considered an “unfair practice” under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPTFA). The CPTFA protects consumers in Singapore against unfair practices by giving them additional rights in respect of goods and services that do not conform to the contract. A consumer may sue a business that engages in unfair practices under the CPTFA to obtain a refund or any other remedies that the Court may order, provided that the compensation sought does not exceed $30,000.00.
An example of an unfair practice includes a situation where Consumer A approaching XYZ Ltd for a free trial but was pressured by the staff of XYZ to sign up for another beauty package despite Consumer A repeatedly saying no.
It should be noted that no action can be commenced under the CPTFA 2 years after (1) the date of occurrence of the last material event on which the action is based or (2) the earliest date on which the consumer had knowledge that the supplier had engaged in the unfair practice, whichever occurs later.
If a beauty salon hard sells and I end up buying a package, can I ask for a refund?
In such a circumstance, there are four options.
- You can send a letter to the beauty salon to notify them of their breach of CPFTA and request for a refund.
- If your request for a refund is refused, you can file a complaint with CASE. They will notify the beauty salon and arrange for mediation to negotiate with the beauty salon to try and get a refund on the unutilized treatments or enter into a compromise agreement to the satisfaction of both parties
- You can lodge a claim under CPFTA in the Small Claims Tribunal. Under this regime, you cannot appoint lawyers to act for you as lawyers’ representation is not permitted. Each party will present their cases before a Registrar and the SCT may make an award of either a refund or damages for any loss or damage suffered by you as a result of the unfair practice.
- If your claim does not fall within the jurisdiction of the SCT, you can seek legal advice to commence a civil suit to advance the claim. Legal representation is advisable, especially in cases where complex transactions are involved.
If I go for a beauty treatment and they accidentally hurt me, e.g. burn me/cut me, what recourse do I have under the law?
The first thing you should do is to immediately seek medical treatment for your injuries from a certified medical practitioner.
In terms of the actions you can take, you may be able to sue the beauty parlour for negligence. You should preserve all evidence that may be relevant to your claim. For example, photographs of the faulty machinery involved and do keep all receipts in relation to your medical treatment expenses and transportation expenses incurred in seeking medical treatment. Do also remember to take pictures of your wounds and/or scars for the purposes of your claim. After all, as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.
Next, you may wish to seek legal advice to sue the beauty salon for compensation as a result of their negligence and/or the negligence of their servant and/or agents. You can claim for pain and suffering and consequential loss and expense as a result of the negligent treatment. A common claim is for loss of income if you have been certified medically unfit to work during the period of your recovery.
Do note that a limitation period of 3 years from the date of the incident applies.
Some common type of claims that occur are for burns from permanent hair removal treatments such as Intense Pulse Light (IPL), from eyebrow tattoos, minor laser treatment, traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cupping and defective machinery during facials. These type of cases are usually settled out of Court pre or post Writ most likely as the entity involved will want to avoid publicity.
Need legal advice for beauty service claims?
If you need advice for beauty service-related matters, you can get a Quick Consult with Viviene Sandhu or other lawyers. With Quick Consult, you can check out in minutes and for a transparent, flat fee from S$49, the lawyers will call you back on the phone within 1-2 days to answer your questions and give you legal advice.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.