Woman racks up $80,000 credit card debt from nail salon visits and purchases, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Woman racks up $80,000 credit card debt from nail salon visits and purchases

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A Singaporean woman has spent more than $80,000 on nail care services at Nail Palace since 2019, allegedly due to the salon's hard-selling tactics and pricey packages.

According to Mothership.sg, in one visit, the 67-year-old woman walked away with a bill totalling over $11,000.

Opened in 2002, Nail Palace is a nail salon chain with 26 outlets, many of them in heartland malls like Jurong Point and AMK Hub.

The woman's son, identified only as Loh, wrote to Mothership after discovering his mother had racked up over $80,000 in credit card charges at Nail Palace.

"When I asked her how she thought she could realistically afford the high prices charged by Nail Palace, she told me the employees in the store would not allow her to leave if she did not sign on to a package," said Mr Loh.

When Mr Loh's mother would say she could not afford it, the staff would explain that their services are affordable when paid over monthly credit card instalments.

"They would also call her multiple times to harass her and ask her to return to the store," he said, adding that his mother, who works in the finance sector, visited Nail Palace once every three to four weeks before and during the pandemic.

His mother has been struggling to pay her credit card bills, and recently suffered a stroke.

"She is… looking for a way to end this vicious cycle," said Loh.

Loh also discovered that the prices at Nail Palace were "far too exorbitant” after checking prices at other nail salons.

The receipt with over $11,000 in purchases included 9 serum treatments, and 8 photo-dynamic therapy full sets, corn treatments, and double masks.

In the past two years, Nail Palace had charged the woman $2,256 for 12 nail masks, $3,696 for 22 coffee spa mocha treatments, and $888 for one set of peeling cream, dry foot cream and metal foot files.

Loh plans to lodge a police report and has raised the matter to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).


Nail Palace responds

In response to Mothership's queries, Nail Palace said Loh's mother is a VIP who frequents Nail Palace at least once a month.

The salon said it does not harass its customers, but gives priority to VIP customers for appointments to utilise services in their packages.

In response to the claim that Loh's mother was not allowed to leave the store without signing a package, Nail Palace said: “I believe that there might be some misunderstanding. Our shops are quite small so we are not able to accommodate so many customers in a shop. If all customers visit our store (and) don't leave without signing up (for) any package with us, we would definitely have no space to accommodate and service our existing 600,000+ members.

“In addition, safe distancing is being implemented and it is also our company's responsibility to follow the law, therefore, we need to allocate time-space for every customer to have their services so, in fact, they might not be able to stay too long in an outlet.”

Regarding the prices at the salon, Nail Palace said the amounts are not for just the products alone.

"They are (for) multiple sessions of services we provide together with the use of the products… as from our records, they are all a minimum of 8 to 10 spa/ treatment sessions.

"Please do not misunderstand them as just a simple bottle of nail mask or moisturising cream," Nail Palace added.

According to checks by Mothership, many users on online forum Complaints Board have shared similar experiences of hard-selling and being sold overpriced packages at Nail Palace.

At least two customers said they were pushed to purchase packages, and left the salon with bills totalling $8,000 to $10,000. 

Another said the dermal fungus treatment she was recommended was "daylight robbery", and the packages the staff were "hard-selling" started at $20,000.


Warning letters

There were 29 alleged pressure sales complaints received against Nail Palace from Jan 1, 2017 to Jun 30, 2019, according to CASE, which in 2020, received 408 complaints about pressure-selling in the beauty industry.

Errant suppliers who persist in unfair practices will subsequently be referred to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore for investigation.

CASE advises consumers to exercise their right and walk away from a dubious deal with unclear terms or aggressive pressure sales tactics.

Consumers should also refrain from making any financial commitments if they feel overwhelmed, uneasy or intimidated during the sales pitch.

They should be wary of “special discount” or “one-time only” offers, as staff may take the opportunity to push packages and leave little time for consideration.

If you are barred from leaving, you can consider bringing a friend or family member along and/ or call the police.

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