Malpractices and unfair trade practices pertaining to beauty treatments and beauty parlours seem to be on the increase. I have received a number of mail from readers who have been inveigled into paying annual subscriptions for beauty parlours that are non-existent or have disappeared overnight. There are also complaints of beauty treatments that have not given the promised results or have resulted in adverse reactions.
Free consultation seems to be the name of the game these days. Consumers often fall for offers of free consultations and once they go in for a check-up, they get trapped into various treatments of unknown and questionable efficacy and value. Incidentally, most of them use telemarketing services very effectively to trap people. Here is an example:
G Arora: I had been approached by a clinic for skin treatment for lines on the face. I went for a free consultation as promised by them on phone. They promised to get rid of 60% to 80% of the lines if I took their treatment, which consisted of ‘photo facials and beauty tech lite’ alternately. For this I paid R30,000 and the duration of the treatment was three months. After I went through it, I was advised to go for Botox as the treatment given by them had not helped. This would be another 40,000. I clearly told them that being a senior citizen, my funds were limited and I would not go for it. My question is: If they knew that this treatment will not work, why did they fleece me with a false promise? Is there anything I can do to in the matter?
Answer: This is a clear case of unfair trade practice, because the clinic made certain false and misleading promises to you to lure you into buying their treatment. If there were any doubts about the success of the treatment, they should have informed you of it, but they did not. Under the Consumer Protection Act, you can get a refund and also compensation for the disappointment, distress and mental agony caused to you as a result of such a practice. So you can lodge a complaint with the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in south Delhi against the clinic. However, I must warn you that the process of adjudication will take time, anywhere between six months to a year or two. But it would be worth it, as you have spent considerable amount of money on a treatment that gave you absolutely no results and only false hopes. When you file the complaint, please specify that you are a senior citizen and therefore they must hear your case on a priority basis. Besides the receipt, if you have any brochures about the claims made by the clinic, keep them too as they will come in handy.
But first, write a formal letter to the clinic, pointing out that since their treatment was a failure and they could not achieve the promised results of removing 60% to 80% of lines from your face, they ought to return your money. You can quote in your letter, the case of Smt Divya Sood Vs Ms Gurdeep Kaur Bhuhi (RP NO 3467 of 2006, decided by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission on 27-11-2006). Here, the consumer was promised a reduction in her weight, but found no change even after undergoing the full treatment. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Bangalore, which first heard the case, awarded a compensation of R25,000 to the complainant, in addition to a full refund of the amount (Rs 10,500) paid by her for the weight loss treatment. While upholding this award, the highest consumer court, the National Commission, observed that the compensation awarded was actually on the lower side.