LAST month, the Consumer Council singled out a beauty clinic for cheating and intimidating its customers into undergoing expensive and unwanted treatments. The Glory Beauty Centre was found to be a ''delinquent trader'' after an investigation into 12 complaints by customers. The case highlights the extent to which beauty and slimming companies will go to in Hong Kong to sign up clients and how easily money can be extracted from men and women who are insecure about the way they look. It is obviously a lucrative business with slimming treatments and clinics springing up all over the territory offering ''quick-fix'' techniques ranging from body wraps to diet pills. But do customers understand what the treatments involve and are they necessary? For example, many appetite supressants are central nervous system stimulants of a similar make-up and function to amphetamines. They can be addictive and may cause side-effects, including rapid heart beat and high blood pressure. Diuretics strip water, not fat, and can deplete the body of potassium. Slimming clinic consultants should advise the client to consult a doctor before starting treatment, but through our investigation, we discovered this rarely, if ever, happens. I visited three of Hong Kong's best-known clinics to see how responsible they are. Aged 30, measuring 173 centimetres and weighing 55.4 kilograms, I am considered to be slim. By some, I am even considered to be ''too slim'' for my height. But would any of the consultants be honest enough to tell me this? After visiting the clinics, I discussed my experience with one of Hong Kong's leading nutritionalists, Louise Purvis.She specialises in the treatment of health problems through nutrition, including weight loss, anorexia and bulimia. MARIE FRANCE Fairmont House, Central. Consultation: The consultation was free and lasted 30 minutes. Manageress Marian Au asked me to undress so she could measure my weight and height. ''You are very flabby, aren't you!'' she sighed, looking me up and down. Then with what looked like large tweezers she proceeded to pinch my flesh, scooping up some of the alleged fat. ''You need to lose weight from your tummy, hips and thighs but your calves are all right.'' I look down at my stomach. It is flat as a pancake. I am not quite sure where she is going to find those extra inches to remove. ''Do you exercise?'' she asks. ''No,'' I say. ''Do you work,'' she asks. ''No,'' I lie. She sighs again, implying I am a desperate case. Her tone aims to undermine my confidence. She says I should sign up as soon as possible and asks me to leave a deposit. I refuse and ask her for a leaflet with a detailed explanation of the treatment so I can consider the matter. She replies the company does not provide information leaflets, only a newsletter with successful case histories. She offers to explain the treatment a second time. I arrange to return two days later but cancel the appointment. Promise: To lose one and a half inches from my hips, an inch from my stomach and one inch from each of my thighs. I am told this will take 20 half-hour sessions. Medical checks: Weighed and height measured. I am told I must see Marie France's resident doctor before starting the treatment so he can carry out urine, blood pressure and skin tests. Proposed treatment: It involves wrapping specific areas which is said to stimulate natural bodily functions to achieve fat reduction. No pills or injections are used. The explanation was hurried, leaving me confused. I felt blinded by science. Estimated cost: Free consultation. I require 20 sessions of fat mobilisation system at $7,000, plus one set of Marie France products which include ''firming gel'' and ''repair lotion'' at $850. Total price: $7,850. EXPRESSIONS (Slimfit Studio) Kyoto Plaza, Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay. Consultation: Consultant Nancy Chan Shuet-ming gave me a free body fat composition test - a computerised test which indicates body fat percentage, lean (muscle), body weight and metabolic rate to determine the amount of weight I should lose. I was not told to undress and there was no inspection of cellulite or my thigh and hip area, where I wanted to target. I was taken to an office where the treatment was explained in a very scientific form. A file of successful case studies was thrust under my nose, but only one appeared to be from Hong Kong. I was told the entire range of products had to be bought for the treatment to work. There were no questions about my desire to lose weight. The consultation sounded like a rehearsed patter. Promise: To target 19.5 to 22.5 per cent body fat which would yield a target weight of 51.8 kg to 53.8 kg, so the weight I should lose is 1.6 kg to 3.6 kg. I was told I needed to lose 0.3 inches from my calves and 1.5 inches from each thigh. Medical checks: Was not asked to see a doctor, but told to tick boxes relating to my health history. Ticked the box stating kidney disease but this was not questioned by the consultant. Proposed treatment: To take part in a three-day detoxification programme consisting of a diet of natural herbal capsules. Supplements include wheat bran-psyllium capsules which supposedly speed up the body's food processing time. I was also asked to take part in the Body Contouring Programme in which a pressure wrap and contour cream is applied to areas to remove cellulite and loose, flabby skin. Estimated cost: Over six weeks I would require 10 wraps which amount to $7,110, plus a set of products including herb capsules, costing $5,161. Total price: $12,271. PHILLIP WAIN City Plaza Four, Tai Koo Shing. Consultation: Having booked an appointment for a consultation, I am immediately shown around the health club. I point out I am only interested in slimming treatments. She looks me up and down and says I do not really need to go on a slimming programme and all I really need is to exercise. But she does not put up much of an argument and takes me into a side office for a consultation. She refuses to give me any written information on the treatments and also refuses to photocopy information from the club brochure. She explains I can either go on a slimming treatment package which includes Formostar, G/5, Trim wrap and Reductomat, but says I should opt for the second alternative, the slimming mask. She does not weigh me or measure my height, but says a physical assessment will be carried out before the treatment to check my body fat. It is recommended I have 30 one-hour slimming mask treatments and I should sign up immediately. Promise: Unable to state how much weight I will lose. Medical checks: Told that no medical checks are necessary. The slimming mask is perfectly safe to the skin. Proposed treatment: Consists of a thermal treatment applied over the body. Seaweed extracts are said to break down fatty tissue, while slimming cream dispenses body fat.