“Many of the members had signed for packages costing up to thousand of dollars – some more than $3,000 – with the salon, which made headlines last year for its hardselling tactics” (Customers Stranded By Salon’s Closure, Miss Sia Ling Xin).
The report, “Customers Stranded By Salon’s Closure” (April 1, 2010), by Miss Sia Ling Xin reflects that the irresponsibility of a single beauty parlour can have significant ramifications. In the short-run, displeasures and unhappiness would be echoed amongst past customers and its other branches; however, in the long run, the credibility of such salons would only be unfortunately eroded. While the purpose of any company is to maximise profits, these corporate aspirations must be guided by the basic principles of integrity and honesty; even if it is going through a rough patch.
Wax in the City’s culpability cannot be condoned, and punitive action must be taken against the company to protect the interests of the customers. However, under these circumstances, questions must also be asked of the Consumer Association Of Singapore (CASE)? Given that CASE “had received 201 complaints about the beauty salon since last year”, would it have been logical for the association to keep extra tabs on the specific branch to control the number of new pre-paid packages in the event the company suddenly decides to discontinue signing up.
Prevention is better than cure; and customers – especially those individuals who have forked out thousands of dollars – should have exercised greater discretion in terms of payments. Nevertheless, if CASE comprehends the considerable risks involved in terms of pre-paid packages, it should have introduced related guidelines as additional safeguards: such as limiting the amount possible or even requesting certain funds to be set aside in the event of the aforementioned. To remain as a purely advisory organisation would only render it gradually defunct in the future, given the worrying number of disputes arising as a result of a multitude of spas shutting down since last year.
CASE needs to play a more active all-round role. Not only does it need to be more involved in mediating resolutions for the affected customers, it also needs to be more aggressive in pursuing errant owners. The fact that unhappy ex-customers have made their way to different locations to take matters into their own hands shows, to a certain extent, the absence of faith in CASE’s resolution mechanisms and consultative role.
If the administration is determined to rely on CASE to mediate such incidents, there must be gradual empowerment of the former’s abilities and platforms while it continues to work closely with the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). Otherwise, we can no longer depend on the status quo to see us through future closures and irresponsibility.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.