A woman who signed up at a beauty salon for a less than HK$100 moisturizing treatment ended up being charged more than HK$50,000, the consumer watchdog said.
The woman, surnamed Lau, had visited a salon for a trial treatment priced at HK$98 but was persuaded to enroll in a beauty contest costing HK$21,600 for a “Pretty Lady Treatment.”
She later found out she had to also pay for a pricier treatment of HK$50,400, which was not mentioned.
Lau also discovered that all participants would have to complete a full set of 200 treatments in just six months. She was under the impression she had a “lifetime” to complete the treatment.
She queried whether it was practical to undergo more than one treatment a day consecutively throughout the six-month contest period. At this point, Lau believed the salon had misled her and she asked to cancel the deal.
The salon refused, insisting that all the terms and conditions were explained to Lau before she signed the agreement.
Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-han said while the beauty salon could have been guilty of misleading customers, victims were likely to lose in court.
“If the complaint was made through civil proceedings, it is possible that due to negligent misrepresentation the customer will have to be legally responsible and be deemed inapplicable under the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance.”
The watchdog also warned consumers against undergoing “eyelash extensions,” with 10 complaints received last year and five this year. Some suffered from eye infections and botched treatments.
The council also found a legal loophole in the regulation of mosquito repellent that may cause safety concerns, especially for children.
Mosquito repellents for home use are regulated under the Pesticides Ordinance, but it does not apply to products that are applied directly on the human body.
According to the council, complaints against beauty and fitness services received in 2014 rose 5.4 percent and 10.2 percent respectively over the previous year.
And in the first four months of this year, complaints in these two categories reached 395 and 156 cases respectively.
PHOTO BY VIKTOR HANACEK