Sunday, April 04, 2010

Fly by night spa operators....

I wrote a number of articles over the past few years about runaway lawyers who fled with clients' money meant for property purchases[Link]. The Law Society finally fixed the problem[Link] by taking away the rights of law firms to hold money for property deals - the money has to go to SAL (Singapore Academy of Lawyers) or banks.

Most of the time when you buy something, you get the goods the same time you hand over your money. There are however exceptions - spa packages, tour packages, gym packages etc. What is in place to stop owners of the businesses from running with your money or using your money to offset the operating costs then going bankrupt? Not much really.

Many years ago, we had property developers that went bust leaving hundreds of homebuyers in limbo. These developers had other businesses such as contruction, trading etc and after buyers payup, something would go wrong, usually with one of the other businesses, causing the developer to go bust. This was fixed by the requirement for developers to hold homebuyers money in an escrow account that cannot be touched until the homes are completed and delivered to buyers. The effectiveness of this measure was seen in the collapse of Amcol Holdings. If you drive along ECP westwards towards the Singapore Flyer, you can see a large condo development called Costa Rhu[Picture here] developed by Amcol Holdings. While it was developing Costa Rhu, the company went bust due to fraud but buyers of Costa Rhu were unaffected. Customers of the now notorious spa Wax In the City(WITC), however, are not so lucky:

WITC has about 2000-3000 customers who paid for spa packages that cost between $500-$2000. That is a lot of money. What the owner of WITC, Alex Zhou has done with the money is not so clear. We will probably get to see some of the (ugly?) details once investigators start doing their work. Customers may or may not get their money back. But the question on my mind is whether the govt will again take the hands off approach and simply say "buyer beware" until the next 'outbreak'.

Some people get the wrong impression that having less regulation always lead to more competition. That is not the case and we can use spas to illustrate this. Because spas go bust and leave customers holding the bag, spa lovers will now only go for well established spas although the price may be more expensive. This makes it much harder for honest smaller spa operators to start and grow their businesses. Over time the market will be dominated by a few big names. Before the govt put in place the new regulation for property purchase, people hesitate to go to smaller law firms even though they charge a lower amount for conveyance.

Singapore is not unique in having problems with lawyers, spas and tour agencies. What is unique is we have a very expensive govt that is slow in implementing common sense regulation that will improve protection for consumers and create an environment that will foster greater competition that will be conducive for small business upstarts.

Problem with spas? Many countries have problems with unscrupulous spa operators and were quick put in place very simple measures - requirement to put up performance bonds before they are allowed to offer packages, requirement to show financial responsibility, escrow accounts etc. When did they do this? 5 years ago? 10 years ago? .....In Britain, they were put in place in 1978 i.e. 32 years ago[Link] the US, 30 years ago [Link][Link]. "Buyer beware" is just an excuse to avoid doing work and here we have an expensive govt that is not doing work, that is why the customers are hurt:

"Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Singapore said customers should be careful when they buy packages involving instalments. Seah Seng Choon, executive director, Consumers Association Of Singapore, said: This pre—payment packages arrangement is totally unregulated and customers need to understand that. They need to be mindful of this and take steps to protect their interests for the time being. There are several disadvantages for consumers to sign up for packages." - Yahoo News [Link]

CASE once again resorts to the "blame the victims" approach.... "customers should be careful"..."customers need to understand". Why doesn't CASE press the govt to have proper regulations so that such sad stories don't repeat! Have they learnt nothing from all these cases?! It is really quite amazing that someone can set up a business in Singapore, collect hundreds of thousands from customers then close down without delivering the services/goods ...and when you go to the authorities, they tell you there is nothing they can do about it...


Anonymous said...

when are singaporeans gonna wake up to the fact the CASE is basically a lame and spineless running dogs of the well connected or protector of businesses over the consumers' rights?

this shameless organization is a reflection of the kind of leadership in our government.

like the hokkein used to say...ho kua bo ho jia(looks good on the outside but full of worms if you DIG DEEP enough)


Anonymous said...

I am totally convinced that our political leaders, who are paid millions a year, and receive fat pension of over a million dollars a year, are incompetent.

I repeat; our political leaders are incompetent.

They are not the talents they brag themselves to be.

God save us from such idiots!

Anonymous said...

yes, all korrupture. sacck sack sack. replace with chee cheong fun and chiam siew mai!

we need fresh leaders to lead us out of the root of all evil - greedy ministers - spiritual and secular

repent repent

Anonymous said...

You wonder why you need those expensive clowns from CASE just to remind us of CAVEAT EMPTOR.

" Because spas go bust and leave customers holding the bag, spa lovers will now only go for well established spas although the price may be more expensive. "

Very soon you will have NTUC entering into SPA business selling expensive package when customers will play safe going to big name company.

Anonymous said...

The most highly paid government in the world, yet the most hands-off (except when it comes to frisking your money) and laziest when it comes to public protection. Their classic reposte, "your eyes are open." Hahaha

Clear eyed said...

It is clear that the spurs are not dug into the tough hides of the fat, lazy and idiotic monkeys running the show here. We need to dig in the spurs, hard, at the coming elections.

Anonymous said...

lip service, all lip service.

we're paying pap to be first-class leaders in lip service. when something bad happens, they wash their hands in public and tell us to be careful.

mini-bomb, spa, all the same lah. only when they perceive their political stranglehold is threatened, then they react.

sack the whole lot!

Anonymous said...

The sooner, Singaporeans realised that this papist leegime is so pro-business that they will rather allow businessmen to cheat their way to success than to protect Singaporeans' interests.
The clear signs are all over the places that this papist leegime has and is still selling out the interests of Singaporeans, that I am really amazed that Singaporeans are still voting for the pap in the hope (hopeless) that they will protect Singaporeans interests. Wake up Singaporeans. U have seen how investors in the minibonds got a better outcome from HK to Taiwan.
In Singapore, the papist leegime sanctioned cheating.

Lye Khuen Way said...

How true, we have a very exoensive Government / cabinet that just wait for more statistics and most of all the direct attention of one man before they buck up !
Maybe, I'm panariod, but we may have already lost 10 years of progess.

Anonymous said...

our fly by night leaders can go fly a kite this election.

vote wisely, do not vote for small change

Anonymous said...

In a very sick society, there are

germs and viruses everywhere.

sgcynic said...

"Maybe, I'm panariod, but we may have already lost 10 years of progess." Isn't that roughly how long Lee Hsien Loong has been "in charge"?

Anonymous said...

i tell you, no need pay millions for good ministers. opposition will do the job even for free.
vote opposition vote for freedom and freebies!!

Anonymous said...

It seems protecting consumers is not high on the gahmen priorities.

You know lah, what are their top priorities.

Anonymous said...

siong ah. watched chiam and ken. aiyoh, former walk and talk like a very very old zombie havenr recover from a car accident and the other one, carbon copy of the father or jbj resurrected except with a bigger nose. lol.

good luck. lol

Anonymous said...

You guys should thank your lucky stars that the government has carved out a decent Singapore. Everything is so convenient in Singapore. This is a fact. I am working in Japan, and as much as Japan is convenient. Singapore is more convenient because it is more efficient. We could do much better with energy recycling though.

What we need is more opposition to check on the government and compete for an active citenzry to take place, so that we can grow innovatively. Innovation can't be born out of a fear climate. So we need alternative voices and more creative destruction and dissent for us to develop and grow fruituously.

The Koreans and Chinese are a minority group in Japan and they have been here for a few centuries, yet they are not acknowledged as japanese citizens. They are awarded PR status. Yet, our own government opens the floddgate to dilute the very Singaporean culture and cohesiveness that we have built up.

What I see of the efforts of 40 years of nation-building is this: the government is using nation-building as a means to an end; to achieve GDP growth. Could we achieve prosperity without having to open the floodgates to let undiscriminating foreigners into our island?

We are Singaporeans and how do you expect me to see a lady from Sichuan or a man from Delhi as part of my Singaporean consciousness? Because of their wishy-washy treatment of nation-building, many overseas Singaporeans I know ain't gonna vote for this government this time. My friends and I would like to send a clear message via the legal voting process as concerns and voices of Singaporeans are not being heard and to condescend Singaporeans as "daft" is a strong indication that, not only concerns are not being heard, the integrity of fellow Singaporeans who have these legitimate concerns are being rudely overuled. Singaporeans can be gracious if leaders lead graciousness by example. This has not been the case for the last 7 years.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Mr Lee Hsien Loong is an incompetent nor a performing candidate for the Prime Ministership position. We need better leadership.

Anonymous said...

Long live ah chiam and gang and may he gives the old fox a run or a tong kat for his millions

Anonymous said...

To all you jokers out there who still think that you can vote for change or vote for opposition , you bunch of jokers better think again. In Sg context, most of the time it's a walkover, opposition are almost non existant, if got opposition maybe it's the siow monkey who likes to photograph himself naked.

How do you expect change to happen via voting then? Stop saying about voting to make changes happen!

If real opposition party does exist, the papist will threaten you jokers, that your hdb & private will drop more than 50% value, since opposition party promises to bring down cost of living and cost of owning a home. See u greedy ppl can tahan that threat or not.

Anonymous said...

pigs are petter because four legs petter than one leg and a crutch.

Anonymous said...

CASE might as well not exist as they hardly protect consumers. Look at those $1.00 shops selling worthless batteries that leaks and shops that sells toys that does not work. There is no control whatsoever in the importation of many goods and services of poor quality. If CASE is not there to look after consumer's interests, then who else? Ministry of Trade and Industry? MTI is even worse as all they care is making money and if something happens, all these bodies will start pointing fingers at each other. We need a better organisation than CASE, maybe an NGO to take over.

Anonymous said...

Er, that lady in the video should put on more clothes.

Anonymous said...

tell it to your mama

Anonymous said...

If my memory holds; it was once mooted that SIN be a Spa Hub of all hubs la.

What is Fly by Night Spa, many flew past it and there are still plenty of buckets shops, crooks masquerading as wealth gurus, financial institutions that are no better than casinoes and tontine operators.

Too much to list la, just read the advertisements in the local newspapers and ask if you are living in SIN ? Or tell yourself can one depends on impotent authority headed by puppets and if you can escape from sins here in SIN.

Anonymous said...

Time the pigs visit the pope for an intimate session

yamizi said...

CASE has no means to press the govt in the first place what, you don't know meh?

You got to pay them 10 bucks to be their member before you can lodge a complaint leh.

How great can it be?

Anonymous said...

We still have some who are die-hard proponents of the 'efficient-market' theory. i.e. let the market find its own equilibrium. No need for regulation.

It's rather strange that the same proponents, when sitting in a plane, will rather have a pilot regulate craft, than to let market forces freely decide where the plane will end up.

It's just plain Selfishness that's sugarcoated in highfalutin language.

Anonymous said...

teach you a chow kuan CASE tactic. if you are up against the big boys,especially the GLCs, and you have all the evidences against them, which is the only thing that matter, CASE though can mediate will not force or cannot force the GLCs to comply or attend a mediation meeting between the disputing parties.

you see, these big bullies know they can't win so they force you into another avenue of settlement which requires you to cough out more money than $10 coffee money for CASE!

depending on what you are disputing and your financial background, these big boys, with more financial and legal resources, need not account for their wrongs unless you are prepared to bleed through the other costly mediation centers. but not before CASE waste a year or two of your time getting these arrogant bastards to come down and by that time, you are completely worn out and may even want to give up.

at the end of the day, you may not want to fight the big boys because it does not make financial sense to do it and CASE knew all about the underhand tactics but close an eye.

justice in singapore? not always! so fuck you.

Anonymous said...

Me will readily that i am cynical of Justice dispensation in SIN.

The Fact is that the rich and powerful always have more justice a given than the poor and feeble.

Anonymous said...

Me will readily that i am cynical of Justice dispensation in SIN.

The Fact is that the rich and powerful always have more justice a given than the poor and feeble.

Anonymous said...

pt is, CASE is up to the job - no complain here from the man in the street because to register with them is very affordable however, the big boys buay song may deny you the justice( there is no law to enforce a mediation which means, the loophole is there to be exploited by the rich and powerful) unless you agree to fight them IN THEIR ARENA OF CHOICE which means, burn a fat hole in your pocket and WASTE MORE OF YOUR TIME, which some people cannot afford.

so on the surface, it appears there is recourse for consumers but in reality, CASE is set up in such a way which gives the big business corporation/GLCs room to POTENTIALLY "FIX" anyone who may make them look bad or threaten to expose them.

Anonymous said...

and if that's not bad enough,

do you think CASE care if the man in the street stop pursuing justice because of all these inbuilt hindrances?

hell NO. it reveals a lot about the kind of BASTARDS who run this organization!!

so how many have they cheated people of their justice?

fucking nobody knows!!!!

Anonymous said...

and does the MEDIA knows about this?


this country is run by FUCKING HYPOCRITES!

Anonymous said...

The lady confessed her belief (on youtube download) in the spa operator's presentations.. that they have got x number of spas.. that if the spa were ever to close he will chop his head or give her his head. I cant believe how careless people could be these days. And people like that could point their fingers at the sky or the floor for their obvious naivety; leave the govt out of this becos it is not their fault. caveat emptor.

Anonymous said...

You shall know the truth and the truth is with the pope and the pope shall set you free

Anonymous said...

Why do our people lack a sense of social justice? They lacked social justice because as children they were not deeply loved the way children should be loved by the priesthood.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you guys remember when LHL first ascended the throne, he promised to lossen the reins and Spore will become freer, livier, and a more vibrant place. So that is eactly what he does - deregulation and goodbye to protection of public interests.

Anonymous said...

why oh why are Pope And Pedophiles in the noose?

Anonymous said...

"tell it to your mama"

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Just because your mama is slutty you assume the mamas are like her?

Otherwise, how do you know?

Anonymous said...

caveat emptor is just a lame excuse for the rich and better informed to fleece people.

this is similar to someone laying a trap for the unsuspecting and disclaim liability because those who got hurt by its trap were either not smart enough or were too trusting.

you have to be unprincipled to agree with this principle

Anonymous said...

caveat emptor... i totally agree.

in the same vein, voters beware! pap is a party that is telling you again and again that you're voting with your eyes open.

don't complain when pap thinks it's more important to protect the interests of big business e.g. minibond, public transport fees, utilities bills and cheap foreign labour.

pls don't complain if you vote for pap, and have more spurs struck into your hide.

Anonymous said...

we need steven seagal to kick some asses!!

domo arigato gozaimasu

Anonymous said...

Actually, I quite pity the 'fly by night guy' after reading his side of the story -

He is dealing with women who take great care of their sharp claws, I mean, nails, after all.

"But he claimed that customers started spreading word that Wax in the City was closing down. Soon he was bombarded with requests for refunds."

Lol! Bitchiness can cost you, ladies, and don't go round scolding other people's mamas...your mamas will get it back too!

Anonymous said...

spa operators need a good spa-nking.

Anonymous said...

Vote wiselee. Onlee the reallee holee leeders should be powerfullee anointed

Anonymous said...

Allow me to add 'admit' to my post and hence it shall read as 'me will readily admit that i am cynical of justice dispensation....'

My apology !

Anonymous said...

Here's a classic example how all women are suckers. That's why the fashion industry could easily target them to change their fashion styles over time. Go to any shopping centre and you'll see most of the people in the queue returning their purchases are women. They don't work on logic but on whims and fancies. They are such suckers that the industry love to target them. Why do you think this woman want to go to a spa for? For herself? Or to get men to compliment her for the hard work she puts in trying to make herself sexually attractive. However highly educated they are, they're still are ruled by emotions than logic.

Anonymous said...

What a typical fucking stupid middle-aged Singaporean women?! They're so typical and stupid, it's no longer funny~!

Anonymous said...

It seems like there are alot of woman hating sentiments linked to this particular post and some other posts from Lucky Tan previously.

If women are so hateable, why do you sad men still oogle at them like idiots and infantiles every time you see one, who advertises her assets more liberally? there has to be some understanding between the sexes and everyman has to do some introspection, i.e. look into himself, to see if he is to be blame also for the women's behavior.

One of the reason why most women are become bitchier is because the men have become less dependable and most are either flying by night or cannot make it under pressure.

But there are still good men and good women out there as well, (i.e. Singapore) Also enuff with the sweeping condemnations and seek to improve thyself before you point the finger.

Anonymous said...

can post your thoughts on NATURE-BY-NATURE (NYN)....also one of the 'scam'

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