Hard-sell tactics ruin experience
Like Madam Betty Chia, I succumbed and signed up for a hair treatment package worth a few thousand dollars two years ago.
I had an existing haircut package at a salon I frequent.
It was a typical hair cut-and-criticism session the moment the hairstylist laid hands on my head.
"Your scalp is so oily. Do you use any hair conditioner? Why is your hair dry like grass?"
I had been long used to their biting remarks and would usually just nod meekly.
But in a moment of exasperation one day, I agreed to a free scalp analysis.
As a salon worker prodded my head with a pen, I saw all my hair faults in high-definition images.
Then he whipped out a calculator and started furiously punching numbers.
One session to fix my hair would cost $288, but sign up for a package and the price would be just $199, I was told.
Vanity and the fear of going bald won over common sense and I signed away $2,388 for 12 sessions, an extravagant amount for a fresh-out-of-schooler.
It amounted to almost a whole month's salary.
But it was not the end. It never is.
I signed up for more packages over the next few months.
After several sessions, they offered another scalp analysis to check the progress of the treatment.
It showed that my scalp was still in dire condition and they asked me to sign up for a more intensive treatment.
"Mei mei, we want to help you. All your past treatments will go to waste if you don't sign up for this," cooed the stylist.
I am ashamed to admit that I gave in again.
My mother would kill me if she knew the amount of money I spent on these treatments.
National University of Singapore Business School associate professor of marketing Ang Swee Hoon explains why these packages are popular.
"There's already a foot in the door as these women are customers of the hair salon and are in the midst of having their hair done," he said.
"They are already telling themselves that they like this hair salon and the services. Otherwise, why else would they be frequenting the salon?"
Some women also think that the package is worth the money.
"They forget that they are paying upfront and are committed to the package," said Prof Ang.
"If they decide to stop the treatment or change to another salon, they can't get their money back."
And it is not just the hair industry. Every time I go for a manicure or facial, I have been pressured to sign a package.
In moments of weakness, I have given in, although the amounts for these were much lower compared to my hair packages.
Trips to the salon or spa should be relaxing, but hard-sell tactics ruin the experience.
After listening to Madam Chia and other elderly aunties, I am determined to avoid such places.
Unfortunately, just like them, I can do so only after my packages are used up.
And I hope to remain steadfast against pressure tactics to get me to sign up for another package.
Share your views with Linette at firstname.lastname@example.org