Caught with pants down: Hong Kong beauty salon accused of strong-arming naked customer into HK$8,000 payment

Company refuses to refund woman, instead offering HK$3,000 in credit, in a case district councillor calls ‘despicable’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 April, 2016, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 April, 2016, 5:30pm

Fresh calls are being made for a cooling-off period for service contracts after yet another victim of high-pressure sales tactics came forward to expose her ordeal.

In the latest complaint against strong-arm sales pitches, the woman, surnamed Yu, accused a beauty salon in Tsim Sha Tsui of forcing her to sign up for an HK$8,000 treatment upgrade last month as she was lying naked on a bed.

Accompanied by Democratic Party district councillor Yuen Hoi-man, Yu said she was having the third session of a hair removal treatment for her calves and private parts. She had paid HK$4,300 for the six-session treatment.

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She had already taken off her clothes and was lying on a bed when a consultant entered the room and started selling her a permanent treatment that cost HK$8,000. Yu said it was too expensive and turned down the offer, but staff members asked if she had a credit card and could pay in instalments.

After 40 minutes of negotiations during which Yu said she felt emotionally distressed and exhausted, she agreed to sign up and pay the bill using an electronic payment services card.

“I felt really embarrassed and ashamed as I wasn’t wearing pants at the time,” she recalled. “Why was I being sold products on a bed?”

Yu said the same evening she demanded a full refund through the company’s website, but was told there was no cancellation policy.

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She took her case to the Consumer Council, which was informed by the company in a written reply that matters were carried out in a “voluntary and happy” atmosphere, adding Yu was provided a white jacket as she made payment.

The company refused to refund the money but offered HK$3,000 in credit for future treatments.

Yu, a bank employee earning HK$12,000 per month, said HK$8,000 was not a small sum. She is now demanding a full refund and an apology.

Yuen called the sales practice “despicable” and said he forwarded the case to the Customs and Excise Department to see if the beauty salon had broken the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, which prohibits aggressive commercial practices.

The case surfaced just a day after the council named and shamed California Fitness for its intimidating sales tactics, marking the first time a fitness centre chain had been identified for malpractice.