Madam Gan Siew Hong was brought by her husband and son to visit a branch of London Weight Management on 23 July 2013 after watching its TV commercial which offered a weight-loss trial session for only $18.
However, the son, who paid for her mother’s treatment, was persuaded to pay a nearly $400,000 package with the slimming centre.
Madam Gan has diabetes, a heart condition, high blood pressure, kidney problems and water retention in her legs. She went to the facility to improve her condition. However, instead of getting better, her condition got worse as she suffered from diarrhoea, a skin rash and pus discharge.
Madam Gan filed the lawsuit in the High Court and seek for compensation of close to $450,000 from the slimming centre, which consists of the $400,000 full refund of the amount her son had paid, and another around $41,000 for medical fees incurred in treating the alleged adverse effects of the services.
Madam Gan claimed in court documents, which obtained by The Straits Times, that the centre consistently pressured her family to sign up for the package.
Madam Gan along with her husband, Mr Tan Ee Leong, and her son, Mr Tan Kok Wah went to Ngee Ann City branch and signed up for trial session.
Before starting the programme, Madam Gan said that her husband and son had asked whether she needed a medical assessment before starting the programme. However, a therapist assured that the programme is suitable for her.
She reportedly said that her son and husband had asked for a medical assessment before starting the programme but were assured by the therapist that it was suitable for her.
When she was at her trial session, London persuaded her son to sign up for an eight-month package which costs $10,914.
Six days later, when she was at the third session, her son and husband extended the package to two years and had to pay for an additional $66,768.
A therapist accompanied the family home to collect a cheque for the balance.
Her son paid a portion using two credit cards, and a therapist accompanied the family home to collect a cheque for the balance.
Just two days later, London again persuaded Madam Gan saying that she needed more than two years to see progress. Her son, again wrote two cheques totalling $321,000 for a six-year package. Her son even added another $4,662.40 for “detox drinks”, and $3,595.29 for ginger masks to reduce the swelling in her legs.
After consuming the “detox drinks”, Madam Gan suffered diarrhoea. She also had rashes on her abdomen which was a sign of an allergic reaction to products applied on her skin.
However, she returned to the centre for more treatments. And only in June 2014, she quit the programme for she did not see any progress.
London stated that it would return unused portion of the package amounting to $43,408.15 out of goodwill.
It also defended itself by saying that Madam Gan’s family did not say that she had another health issue other than diabetes. Therefore, it is not liable for injuries resulting from non-disclosure of medical history.
It also said that it had advised her to seek medical advice on the suitability of its treatment and products and told her that successful weight loss depended on a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Such disputes on costly packages are not uncommon in Singapore as there is no regulatory framework on wellness companies and also the lack of consumer protection against hard sell tactics and unfair contracts forced upon unsuspecting customers.
In 2013, a 58-year-old woman, Madam Lam Ngiet Keow, sued Yun Nam Hair Care to seek the refund of the unused portion of the packages amounting to $353,897.
Madam Lam said that she had bought 40 packages of contracts to solve her grey hair problem from the company since 2003 amounting $380,000, the majority of the contracts were bought between June 2011 and October 2012. She also said that she had only used $16,103.
However, Yun Nam Hair Care denied all her allegations and did not feel that she had any grounds to seek compensation for any injuries or damages.