Hong Kong beauty parlour staff sob in court as they are cleared of aggressive sales practice

Pair were accused of forcing cancer survivor to pay four times more than she wanted for treatment

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2016, 7:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 August, 2016, 10:38pm

Two beauty parlour staff members broke into tears in court on Wednesday as they were cleared of sales malpractice over allegations that they aggressively forced a cancer survivor to sign bills totalling HK$60,000 when she was only willing to pay a quarter of that sum.

Their acquittal came after magistrate June Cheung Tin-ngan cast doubt on the credibility and reliability of the main prosecution witness — alleged victim Wong Yee-ling, 48.

Costly treatment: Hong Kong cancer survivor forced into paying for pain-relief treatment at beauty centre, court hears

Spa Beauty manager Ling Pik-yee began sobbing when she heard the verdict, prompting company secretary Venice Tsang Chau-ting to pass a tissue over as she too was seen wiping away a tear.

Ling, 31, and Tsang, 30, denied a joint charge of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice.

Eastern Court previously heard Wong testifying that she was forced to sign five credit card bills totalling HK$60,000 during her treatment at the parlour on May 19 last year, when she only wanted to buy a package worth HK$15,000.

The payments were signed off with two different cards. Wong explained that was because she was told that one was rejected.

She further recalled one of the accused as saying: “You cannot leave if you don’t sign.”

But the magistrate noticed that Wong gave inconsistent and ambiguous explanations in court.

Noting that Wong was a secretary educated up to Form Five, Cheung said: “It was not possible for Wong to sign her bills without looking at them at all.”

Cheung also questioned why Wong did not inform the parlour’s customer service unit, police or the Consumer Council that she was forced to sign off on the payments when she called them soon after the treatment. Instead, the claim only surfaced when she filed a statement with the Customs and Excise Department on September 24.

“The court cannot accept [Wong’s] evidence as she was not a reasonable and reliable witness,” Cheung said, before she ordered prosecutors to foot the defence bill.