2 Nail Salons Ordered to Stop Misleading Customers That They’ve ‘Fungus Infections’ to Sign Up For Packages

Remember back when the sales of coconut water spiked when the claims of it being able to remedy the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines started surfacing on the internet?

Have you ever wondered if that could’ve just been a ploy from coconut water companies to get you to buy gallons of their product?

These days, businesses may do anything for sales, including providing treatments for medical conditions that are unfounded.

The latest scandal sees the heartland mall nail salon chain, Nail Palace, ordered by the court to stop misleading customers into signing up for packages to treat purported nail fungus infections.

Restraining Orders Lodged Against Two Outlets

You may have seen Nail Palace salons around, as they’ve been around since 2002 and currently have almost 30 outlets islandwide.

According to The Straits Times, restraining orders were sought by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) against the East Point Mall and Bukit Panjang Plaza outlets for alleged unfair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.

This also comes after the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) issued a warning letter to Nail Palace after 40 consumer complains about hard-selling sales tactics surfaced in 2021.

The extended an invitation to the chain to enter into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) which was provided under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act to terminate its use of unfair sales practices and to compensate customers that had been unfairly baited into making a purchase in 2019.

However, Nail Palace declined to enter into this VCA, and resultantly, CASE observed the continual rise of such complaints made against the company.

Two Customers Paid Thousands to Treat Non-Existent Fungus Infections

It seems like Nail Palace was well versed with the fear marketing technique, because two of their employees somehow convinced two unsuspecting customers that they had toenail infections that could be dangerous if left untreated.

According to The Straits Times, judge stated that employees working at the two outlets had told customers that they had fungus infections on their toes, urging them to sign up for a treatment package the salon offered.

One of the customers patronised the Bukit Panjang Plaza outlet back in August 2020 and was told by the nail technician serving her that the infection would spread to her other toe nails eventually, which was what pushed her into purchasing a treat package from the salon for six session. The cost worked out to over S$1,600.

Probably worried at this alarming news, she then went to consult a doctor and received the information that she did not in fact have any fungal infection on her toes.

She proceeded to get a refund for the unused sessions only after escalating it to the Small Claims Tribunals.

The other customer had gone to the outlet at East Point Mall back in December 2019, and was given similar claims after the employee examined her toe, saying that it would spread if she did not undergo treatment.

The woman, probably not wanting to lose her toes from a potential amputation, decided to fork out a hefty sum of over $11,400 for the 12-session fungal treatment package.

Why was this so much costlier, you ask? Because during the checkout, the customer was also told to take several lipsticks and lip balms that were free of charge.

Two days later, as the customer collected her invoice for the services, she realised that she had been charged $678 for the products that were mentioned to her as being free.

Those lipsticks better have been made of gold or something because even ones from celebrity-owned Fenty Beauty or Kylie Cosmetics don’t cost that much.

Court Order for Nail Palace to Publish Declarations in Newspapers

In a bid to promote greater transparency in their business practices to the general public, District Judge Elaine Lim agreed with the regulators and declared that the two Nail Palace outlets had engaged in unfair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act yesterday (17 August).

The judge also ordered for the outlets to make publications of the declaration details and restraining order against them in full-page notices in various newspapers such as The Straits Times.

Basically, concede to getting named and shamed lah.

For the next two years, these outlets will also have to have to notify customers about their restraining order status before entering into any form of contract involving a transaction for their services.

In response to this, Nail Palace denied that it had misled the customers and resisted the commission’s bid for the various orders.

Through affidavits submitted from two employees at the outlets, the company claimed that it was the customers’ own decision to purchase the package without asking for confirmatory tests.

The nail technician at the East Point Mall had indeed told the customer that she needed a treatment for the “nail fungus infection”, but maintained that it was ultimately the customer’s own choice to purchase the package.

So…she basically described how hard-selling works?

The other employee at the Bukit Panjang Plaza outlet claimed that the customer asked for the treatment on her own accord after the employee said the gap in toenails could be an indication of fungus.

Not the First Scandal for the Nail Salon

In December 2021, Mothership had received a complaint from a son whose elderly mother had paid over $11,000 in treatments from just one visit to an outlet.

The customer had allegedly racked up over S$80,000 in credit card charges since 2019 at nail salon.

Okay whoever’s pushing these “free” gold lipsticks at the cash register, it’s time to face the music.

The son said that the Nail Palace employees would harass his mother over repeated spam calls, telling her to return to the store. She would then be forced into purchasing more packages from fear of not being able to leave the store.

In response, Nail Palace claimed that they do not harass customers, but only took on the practice of calling their “VIP customers” to schedule appointments during the pandemic in order to avoid “any complaints or disappointments.”

Yes, because not being able to spend copious amounts of money on unnecessary treatments is a real bummer for some people.

So as a lesson for the rest of us: When handed a medical diagnosis from a rando, seek actual professional medical advice.

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Featured Image: CapitaLand