Officials who promised to protect people who sign up for slimming plans and the like with compulsory cooling-off periods during which they can change their minds and get their money back seem to be having a bit of a cooling-off period themselves. The amendments were not tabled before lawmakers as expected before the end of the legislative year last month. Meanwhile, police have arrested 11 people in an investigation of a beauty parlour chain over a suspected scam in which at least two women had to sell their flats to settle debts of as much as HK$4 million. Lawmakers and victims say a cooling-off period during which buyers could reflect on their commitment could have saved them in this case. The law change will bring contracts for services of six months or longer under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance and introduce a seven-day cooling-off period. A disinterested observer would wonder how anyone could be so gullible as to fall for some of these slimming schemes. In the latest case women say they spent more than HK$70,000 to join slimming competitions and then were asked to buy more treatment plans to increase their chances of winning and collecting a HK$500,000 bonus. The competitions have not been held. In previous examples, slimming centre customers put down a deposit for 'free' services, refundable upon reaching a weight reduction target. This meant the centre was betting on failure to achieve the stated aim. Though scarcely credible, these offers prey on personal insecurities and fears related to appearance, such as ageing and career and relationship prospects. Since the industry cannot exclude unscrupulous operators the government should put consumer protection first. If it is good enough for banks and brokers to allow cooling-off periods for clients who purchase complex investment products, it is good enough for slimming centres that want their pound of flesh before any of it is shed. We trust the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau will not delay the law change much longer.