A survey has shown that many people who signed up for fitness training or beauty services felt that they were coerced into entering into prepaid deals.
According to the poll, which was conducted by the Democratic Party, 67 percent of respondents said they faced undue pressure from fitness training and beauty centers in the past 12 months.
In some cases, people were even threatened into taking up pre-paid packages, the survey showed.
The survey findings were based on interviews with 961 people between mid-May and June.
Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, convener of the Democratic Party’s economic and consumer rights policy team, said a hotline set up by the party in mid-May to deal with complaints related to fitness and beauty centers has received 40 cases so far.
The problem of abusive sales tactics by service providers is only getting worse, he said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Of the 40 complaints received, about half were from people who said they were threatened into taking up prepaid packages, Yuen said.
“A complainant said she was surrounded by two to four employees, who made sarcastic and insulting remarks, such as accusing her of carrying a heavy body odor, in a bid to destroy the woman’s self-confidence and coerce her into purchasing related services,” he said.
In another case, a woman was told by the staff of a beauty salon that she might not be able to breastfeed her baby as she has sagging breasts. The staff then pressured her to sign up for breast enhancement and firming treatment courses.
Some beauty salon staff were said to have exaggerated the health risks associated with common skin issues, such as clogging of pores, to force prospective customers into making purchases.
There were cases where beauty salons were found to have used high-pressure tactics to close service deals amounting to over HK$100,000 on people who are relatively more vulnerable, such as those suffering from depression.
Gynecologist Dr. Law Chi Lim told news website hk01.com that it is outright wrong to suggest that someone must have well-developed breasts in order to be able to breastfeed.
On the contrary, the doctor warned that breast enhancement surgeries could affect breast tissues and could lead to the thinning of milk ducts.
According to Radio-Television Hong Kong, the Democratic Party also found that when a beauty salon is shut or acquired by another operator, the personal data of its customers is often transferred to a new operator or even handed to frontline staff for direct selling without the customers’ consent.
Such arrangements mark a violation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
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