Beauty chain took naked snaps

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am

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A beauty chain is investigating claims that four of its customers were photographed naked and pressured into signing up for expensive treatments costing tens of thousands of dollars.

The four women said yesterday that they had filed complaints with police and the Consumer Council over their experiences at the Pearl de Beaute's Causeway Bay and Mong Kok branches between August and January.

Three of the clients claimed salon staff snapped pictures of their breasts and the fourth said her stomach was photographed after they were persuaded to enter a 'spokeswoman competition' for slimming or breast enhancement treatment.

They also claimed they were pressed to hand over their credit card details and sign service agreements while receiving their treatments.

However, Ruby Cheng Wai-fong, Pearl de Beaute's district manager for Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, said staff only took photos with customer permission and she had not heard of clients being asked to sign agreements without knowing the full cost.

One of the four customers, who only identified herself as Ms C, said she ended up signing on for beauty treatments costing HK$107,040.

'They applied a mask on my face and asked me to sign the documents. I didn't have my glasses and they didn't tell me the exact amount charged,' she said.

Another client, Ms B, who agreed to spend HK$61,737 on face and breast treatments, claimed staff photographed her after she changed into a robe. 'They said they'd give me a free check-up, opened up my [robe] and took pictures,' she said.

She said she wanted to leave at that point but was wearing only a robe. 'I was very frightened. Why did they take photos this way?'

All of the women said they were worried that the photos might become public.

But Cheng said all pictures, including those of the four complainants, were deleted after the competition. 'There were many others who participated in the competition, and they had no problems,' she said. 'We're not sure what this fuss is all about.'

Cheng said the competition was stopped last month after the complaints. She later clarified that it was only a competition between staff from the chain's eight branches and did not involve recruiting any spokespeople or prizes for customers.

Cheng said she would investigate whether any staff had given any misleading information.

The Consumer Council last month named another beauty parlour, Q&A+ Health Spa, after receiving 61 complaints about staff pressuring customers to buy beauty treatments or pay large fees to enter non-existent competitions to be 'slimming spokespeople'.

The council's chief executive, Connie Lau Yin-hing, said the repeated complaints showed there was a lack of regulation of sales strategies.

Legislator Tanya Chan, who has taken up the women's complaints, said yesterday that a contract cooling-off period should be included in amendments to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.