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Do you know what the top three most common disputes for 2012 in Singapore are?

  1. Motorcars (2,255 complaints)
  2. Beauty (1,984)
  3. Electrical and electronics (1,874)

And the top three industries that have been breaching the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act in 2012

  1. Timeshare
  2. Beauty
  3. Slimming

Astalift Signature Facial Review Facial Massage

We realised a lot of disputes are from the beauty industry, and as a beauty-only magazine in Singapore, we feel the need to help our readers understand their rights better! That’s because we have all gone through our fair share of hard-selling, persistent therapists who tried to sell us add-ons while we are undergoing our treatments, and sometimes even through emotional insults!

Hence we contacted CASE to understand more from the authority and we are glad Mr Seah Seng Choon, the Executive Director of CASE, responded and shared with us what we can do if we encounter problems at spas in Singapore.

Daily Vanity (DV): Does CaseTrust for Spa and Wellness Business include spa, facial, massage, gym, hair treatment and slimming companies?

Mr Seah Seng Choon (CASE): The CaseTrust Spa & Wellness accreditation scheme includes all beauty-related services including spa, facial, massage, gym, hair treatment and slimming.

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DV: We realised some big names businesses are not in the list of CaseTrust for Spa and Wellness Business. Is there any reason why they are not inside?

CASE: It is only compulsory for spas that hold a Category I (Cat I) Massage Establishment (ME) Licenses to apply for the CaseTrust accreditation scheme.  Spas that do not hold a Cat I License can opt to apply on their own merit and on a voluntary basis. However, the businesses under this accreditation scheme would need to put in place consumer-friendly processes and undergo a stringent set of assessment criteria.

What DV says: There are two categories of licenses for massage establishments. Cat I license gives the company more operational flexibility like longer operational hours and almost unrestricted operational location. While Cat II license has got more restrictions and it seems to us that the majority of the spa businesses in Singapore are operating on Cat II license. To find out more about the licenses you can download this file.

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DV: If a consumer has a dispute with a non-CaseTrust accredited Spa and Wellness company, how does CASE usually resolve it since they do not have control over these companies?

CASE: We usually encourage consumers to approach the business directly to seek resolution. If their direct approach fails, they can approach CASE for assistance.

If they request for CASE assistance, there are two options. Consumers may take up the assisted or filed case option.

  • Assisted Option: CASE officer will write a letter on the behalf of the consumer, stating his/her dispute and ideal resolution. The consumer will have to deal with company directly after seeking advice from CASE. CASE does not do any follow-ups for this option.
  • Filed option: It means that the consumer has authorised CASE to handle the dispute on his/her behalf. CASE officer will follow up and negotiate with company directly through correspondence to seek an amicable solution for both parties.

If the dispute is unable to be resolved through correspondence, our CASE officer will arrange for a mediation session for both parties. CASE will also feedback to the relevant authorities on the consumers’ behalf.

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DV: Is there any other interesting items that you would like our readers to know?

CASE: A Spa Operator who carries the CaseTrust mark, is certified to have in place the following consumer-friendly policies:

  1. Protection for Pre-paid Packages
    Consumers signing up for the pre-paid treatment packages can be assured that the value of their un-utilized sessions will be insured, with documentation and real-time verification of their insurance coverage provided.
  2. 5-day Cooling-Off Period
    Consumers enjoy a cooling-off period of at least 5 working days to seek full refund of payments made for spa packages if they do not wish to proceed with the services offered. The 5-day cooling-off period offers recourse for consumers who have been pressured into signing up. For avoidance of doubt, this cooling-off period is not applicable for trial sessions whereby the treatment have been utilised.
  3. Stress-Free Treatment
    When patronising CaseTrust accredited spas, you can be assured of relaxing and stress-free treatments because of a ‘No Selling’ policy once you enter the treatment room.
  4. Clear Fee Policies
    Clearly articulated and documented policies on charges and refunds.  These must be fully disclosed to customers and adhered to according to the terms and conditions of the contract between the businesses and customers.
  5. Well-Defined Business Practices and Systems
    Besides good business practices and systems, there should be a redress system with proper and clearly defined dispute resolution mechanisms for the business and customers.
  6. Well-Trained Personnel
    The business must ensure that it has trained sales staff who do not practice unethical sales tactics and are able to provide good customer service.

What DV says: View the list of CaseTrust accredited companies here

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Other things you should know when signing up with a spa / slimming treatment:

If you happen to see the wrong price listed…

Let’s say you happen to look at an outdated menu and prices have since increased, or there’s a misprint on the company website or brochure and you’ve belatedly realised after your pampering treatment that oh, no – your one and a half hours of bliss is actually worth SGD750 instead of SGD75 – then what?

Sadly, a contract like this is formed at the point of sale, so in effect, when you offer the therapist SGD75 instead of SGD750 – companies have the right of way on this one, and if you refuse to pay the rest, it puts you firmly in the wrong.

Shoddy treatments

So who has the right of way on this one? While you do have a right to complain about it, and in some cases, can expect to be compensated, it really depends on when you complain (preferably mid-treatment!) in order to give the spa time to resolve the issue.

Basically – bring any issues up with the spa – be it hygiene issues, unprofessional ethic – as quickly as possible. The quicker you bring any issues up, the more likely you will be to be compensated. That being said, it wholly depends on the nature of the spa and what the complain is about.


We hope you now know your rights as a customer and the recourse you can seek in times of disputes with beauty-related companies in Singapore. Do share this article with your friends so they will know their rights too!

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