‘No money is no excuse’: Hong Kong court told of pressure at beauty clinic to sell treatments
DR Group warned staff not to be taken in by customers who pleaded poverty, manslaughter trial hears
Staff selling treatment packages at a Hong Kong beauty chain accused of the manslaughter of a client were told not to be put off by customers who claimed to be poor, a court heard on Monday.
DR Group issued one internal notice that said: “Don’t give yourself an excuse that they have no money.”
Another said DR staff made multiple times the city’s average household monthly income of HK$20,000. “There are no poor girls in DR. The most important thing is that you have to use your brain to work hard.”
To seize every opportunity, they were also urged to “develop hidden missiles” – reconnecting with previous clients – and to drive home the sales pitch to customers until they had convinced them of the effectiveness of the chain’s services, prosecutors told the High Court.
DR Group head Dr Stephen Chow Heung-wing, employee Dr Mak Wan-ling and technician Chan Kwun-chung have pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of Chan Wai-lam in 2012.
Chan, 46, died of a blood infection a week after receiving Cytokine-induced killer cell (CIK) treatment at the group’s Hong Kong Mesothreapy Centre. Three other women suffered the same infection after undergoing the “unproven” treatment, with one losing her legs and four fingers.
CIK therapy involved blood being taken from the client, processed and then reintroduced into the body. Prosecutors have said the therapy was developed to treat cancer and should not have been used on healthy customers.
The court heard on Monday of how a notice cautioned staff that although customers might own properties, they would lie and said they lived in public housing or a rental flat because they wanted to avoid being subject to sales pressure.
It said 16 per cent of DR Group’s clients were property owners and staff must work hard to determine their background.
Former manager Chung Wai-ying said “hidden missiles” referred to customers who had previously subscribed to the group’s services but not turned up for a while.
Staff might have lost contact with them because former employees had not properly passed them their details before leaving, she said.
As a result, the new staff would not follow up, she said, because they thought these customers might not have much money to spare or might not be interested in continuing their services.
“From the company’s point of view, they want the staff to call them,” Chung said.
The court also heard that it was Chung who called an ambulance for Chan on October 4, when she returned to the beauty centre a day after the treatment complaining of discomfort.
She recalled that she was first told about the CIK treatment by her boss Chow at a staff meeting but later conceded he was mainly responsible for business development rather than daily operations.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.