Hey beauties, have you ever gone for a complimentary beauty facial session in Singapore? If you have, you would know that there’s no free lunch in the world. Such a session would typically end with a lengthy sales session where you’ll sit in a room facing a persistent sales consultant. Yes, she wants you to sign up for their beauty packages typically in the ballpark figure of a few thousand dollars.
In the world of business, there’s nothing wrong with such an arrangement. They give you free trials, so that they get a chance to speak with you and showcase their products and services. But what if the beauty spa crosses the line? What if they mislead you into buying something you wouldn’t have purchased otherwise? What are some of their sales tricks and what’s your recourse? This post will address these questions as well as feature a review on New York Skin Solutions, a beauty spa retail chain in Singapore.
Promotional Deals now come from Companies You Trust!
Ever since the enactment of the Personal Data Protection Act, I have been receiving more promotional deals from established companies that I deal with, such as the banks and telcos. Why? Because companies you don’t have a relationship with are not supposed to contact you as and when they feel like it.
This recent bill statement from Starhub came with a deal that gave me a complimentary facial treatment at New York Skin Solutions. Since my current beauty package is almost used up, I thought it was timely to start looking around for a replacement.
What’s Bad about New York Skin Solutions?
I hardly start off a review with “What’s Bad”. “What’s Good?” normally precedes that. But in this case, I really have nothing to contribute to that category.
Disclaimer: Below are my personal opinions based on my unique experience. Yours or others may differ from mine. Read full disclaimer here.
1. Long Registration on a Weekday Afternoon
I went during a weekday, office hour, which was the lull period for most retail establishment. I sat in a room waiting for what seemed longer than usual. After a long while, I was given a form to fill up. There, I indicated my skin concerns – quite a lot actually. I’d ticked about half of the skin concerns listed there, mainly related to skin laxity, wrinkles and enlarged pores. I completed the form within 3 minutes.
Then it was waiting and waiting again. I could see three staff at the reception chatting. Clueless about what I was waiting for, I started to notice that 30 minutes had elapsed. Is it typical for registration to take 30 minutes? Not that I have ever experienced, unless we are talking about Singapore General Hospital. By the way, I did come on time for the appointment.
2. Skin Analysis | I have obvious pigmentation that I couldn’t see
After the registration, a friendly and amiable consultant came in to perform a skin analysis. She told me that New York Skin Solutions was the best treatment for anyone – cheap and good. I was hopeful. By cheap, I would think the price should be below $100 because my current facial at a 4-star hotel that involves RF treatment costs around $150. We’ll see.
The sweet-looking consultant placed a device on different parts of my face to capture magnified photos of my skin – cheek, chin, forehead, nose. She told me about the loss of collagen on my cheeks, which I agree.
What was perplexing was when she looked at my skin with her naked eyes, and pointing out what she termed as “brown patches of pigmentation” on my cheeks and nose. “It’s very obvious”, she emphasized while I was trying to figure out where the OBVIOUS pigmentation was.
“It’s such a big patch, look at it”, the consultant insisted before outlining the patch on my cheek with her finger. OMG, the brown patch that I couldn’t see was the size of a golf ball. I knew I flush easily when I’m hot such as during exercise. However, in that cool air-conditioned room, I really couldn’t tell any “obvious” skin sensitivity or discoloration.
“You also have brown patches on your nose.”
Perhaps, by her expertise, she really could tell something that I couldn’t. As you can tell, I was beginning to develop self-doubt. I nodded my head…..hmmmm…maybe I do have obvious pigmentation.
3. The Treatment “Room” wasn’t a room
After an hour, I was finally able to get started on the facial treatment. The staff led me into an area where “rooms” were demarcated by curtains. Officially, it’s not a room. It reminded me of a budget Thai massage parlour.
With curtains on the left and right of the space, there was no room for a basin or storage unit. Just a hook for you to hang your clothes, and that’s it.
I could hear everything going on in the neighbouring rooms – conversations, washing, staff placing their food orders, staff going in and out of rooms to access the common basins. What could make this space even more bustling was the Chinese New Year music in the background. As you can imagine, the music came with lots of heavy drumbeats. One song even had firecrackers. How “relaxing!” This is definitely not my definition of a spa, which I expect to be able to sleep and relax at the very minimum.
Also, during the facial treatment, the beautician would wash the cloth she used on me, several times. As there wasn’t any sink in the room and my eyes were covered, I could only imagine her using a shallow tub and washing the face cloth in recycled water.
By then, I was convinced this spa would not qualify. I didn’t like it at all. It felt and look cheap. It was noisy. It didn’t smell like a spa. I was expecting the price to be cheap (like $60).
4. The Facial Treatment | Beautician away most of the time
The beautician cleansed my face, after which she placed cotton pads over my eyes, before layering on with a sheet mask. “This would soften your skin”, she said.
By the way, I’m totally not impressed with sheet mask being used in a professional salon.
And then she was gone after telling me to rest for 20 minutes. The time passed by rather slowly. With the noise and loud, festive music in the background, it was difficult to sleep through the session. After what felt like more than 20 minutes, I was getting slightly impatient and wanted to look at my watch. But my eyes were covered.
When the beautician came back, I asked her what time it was. She hesitated and indicated a time that was 25 minutes after the mask was placed. When she lifted off the pad on my eyes and left to get her beauty equipment, I stole a glance at my watch. In actual fact, 40 minutes had elapsed since the mask was placed. Imagine, after 40 minutes of treatment, I haven’t received any extraction, exfoliation, facial treatment, mask or massage. Only cleansing and softening.
The rest of the treatment included a painful exfoliation (squeeze-type), followed by a metal device that ran across my face very briefly. I was told it was an “ultrasound” device. The lady ran the metal device over half of my face, and then handed me a mirror.
“See, the treated side is tighter and firmer”, she said. Tried as hard as I possibly could, I couldn’t tell any difference between the left and right. I even tried to sit upright so that I could notice the firmer skin she was talking about. But I saw nothing.
She didn’t give up, and took out her phone to take photos of my face. But I wondered why she didn’t show the photos to me thereafter. Perhaps, there wasn’t much to be seen?
Lastly, a cold mask was placed on my face for about 20 minutes. All in all, the facial treatment lasted for about 80 minutes, out of which I was left alone for 60 minutes. Contact time was only 20 minutes.
5. The Sales Session | My jaw dropped literally
Most sales session would start off with the beauty consultant asking you if you have enjoyed your session. I was anticipating this question and had cooked up diplomatic way of saying what I’d felt, such as “I would prefer a quiet room that allows me to relax.“
But I wasn’t given a chance to share my experience. A younger sales consultant, different from the previous one started the session taking magnified photos of my skin, and comparing them to the “Before” photos. Indeed, the before-after photos showed that the skin was more supple. “See, your skin collagen has improved”, said the consultant. Being quite well-read in the area of beauty and aesthetic treatments, I didn’t buy into the story because the skin would naturally look more supple after an hour of treatment that ended with a hydrating mask.
Furthermore, beauticians or spas are not allowed to perform treatments that can penetrate too deeply into the skin. It is a regulated industry. Only doctors can perform such treatments. So how could I believe that my skin’s collagen had regenerated after a mere hour of treatment?
“If you want to think this way, I can’t help it”, the sales consultant who was appearing less friendly by then said defensively. She then used the device to take photo of her skin to prove that I was wrong. But I didn’t understand her rationale of doing so as her skin is not my skin. Why did she compare my photos with her photos to prove that I was wrong? I switched off immediately.
$450 a pop? Are you kidding me?
She then tried to sell me a 10-session beauty package at $4,500. This works out to S$450 per session.
My jaw dropped literally. Seriously? That was out of my expectation. Honestly, I would think twice even if they’d quoted $50.
At $450 a session for such a noisy ambiance and service is unacceptable. You should never pay $450 for a facial treatment. Even if the facial treatment was done by a certified doctor, it wouldn’t cost this much. Trust me.
One Final Sales Attempt at New York Skin Solutions
The first sales consultant (the friendly one) tried a last attempt in getting me to sign up. She took out her phone quickly, went into the photo gallery and picked out an earlier photo of her with lots of obvious dark spots and pigmentation. She was trying to convince me that New York Skin Solutions helped her erased the pigmentation.
But hello….pigmentation wasn’t my skin concern. Furthermore, I can’t see any obvious patches on me as of now. Why they were so eager to solve a problem that wasn’t a concern to me was baffling.
Now, even if I’ve had pigmentation, I knew that no beauty spa can ever erase pigmentation. After going through several rounds of medium peel done by a doctor, some of my tiny dark spots stubbornly remained. So, please. Do not trust those who have something to gain from you. Trust me. Ha Ha. I have nothing to gain from you.
6. Talk Down on Doctors’ Treatment
During the 2.5 hour session, I was discouraged from proceeding with treatments by aesthetic doctors, such as chemical peels, fillers or botox. They either said the procedures weren’t good, or I didn’t need it at that point in time. I would have trusted them if such a sales gimmick hadn’t been used on me. What’s the gimmick, you may ask? Beauty spa would rather you spend these money on them than at an aesthetic clinic. Let me quote you a real life experience.
While having a facial at my previous spa, the beautician struck up a conversation, in which I shared with her about the high-strength vitamin C serum facial and the VI peels I’ve done. She enthusiastically asked me how much the procedures cost.
When I came out from the treatment, the sales consultant somehow got wind of the conversation, and started upselling their package – a facial that contained Vitamin C, but at twice the price of what I’ve already paid for RF treatment. And mind you, RF facial was the highest-tier facial in their package. Why did I have to top-up for a facial that’s not even listed in their brochure? There were similar incidents when spa discouraged me on doctor’s procedures only for me to realize their motives a little while later.
Speaking from my own experience, I would not recommend anyone to take up treatment at New York Skin Solutions, especially not at $450 a pop. A chemical peel which is more effective in treating multiple problems and is performed by a doctor costs only a third or half of this price. You have better ways to spend your hard-earned money.
If you are really keen, do negotiate it down. Beauty spas like to quote prices at least three to four times above their final price. Rating: 0.5/5
If you are still undecided on which salon to sign up for, do make sure that they are accredited by CaseTrust by checking against this list. Accredited beauty spas would allow you to enjoy friendly sales terms such as a 5-day cooling off period and protection for pre-payment. Full list of benefits is listed here.
Other Common Sales Tricks by Beauty Spa
1) Special Deal: They will quote a high price, after which they would slash it down substantially by quoting a promotion tied to a random excuse (e.g. 21st Month Anniversary, Mother’s Day, Christmas Special). They are trying to convince you that you are getting a good deal, and that you should therefore sign up quickly.
2) Sign up by Today: The promotion only last for one day, which for some reason, happens to be the day you were at the spa. You have to sign up NOW if you want to enjoy the special offer. They will tell you that they are unable to extend the promotion because it’s controlled by the system and checked by the “management”. Even if you come back later, they would not be able to offer you at the discounted price, so they say.
Really? Do they really turn away customer if you call them a few days later that you are interested in their beauty package? I think not.
3) Grooming you for their Sales Pitch: The beautician, when treating your skin would point out about how bad your skin is. After the facial, the sales consultant will then upsell you on packages to address those “concerns”.
Have you been exposed to any other sales tricks? If you have, let me know and I’ll add on to this list to help the community make better decisions in choosing a good beauty spa.
Call for Revamp of Beauty Spa Industry
One last thing, why do beauty spas in Singapore make us commit to long-term beauty packages? I do hope that Singapore consumers will have more options and can enjoy ad hoc beauty deals at reasonable prices.
Is this problem peculiar to Singapore or is it the same everywhere else? I certainly hope this trend would not spread to other industries. What if all hair salons start requiring you to buy long-term packages? Or how about dental clinics in Singapore make their customers commit to a 10-session package?
The beauty spa industry is one of the notorious industries in terms of the number of consumer complaints received. I hope some companies can take the lead and revamp the way the beauty spa industry operates in Singapore.