Family members of an 82-year-old woman have filed a court case, seeking a full refund and damages from London Weight Management, after viewing a misleading television commercial touting a weight-loss trial session for SG$18.
According to The Straits Times, the woman, named Gan Siew Hong, wanted to lose weight for health reasons and was convinced in to signing a SG$400,000 package with a branch of the slimming centre. According to the family, not only did the treatments fail to improve her health, it also caused her health to deteriorate.
In a statement to the local paper, London Weight Management said it was willing to refund her the unused amount of the package out of goodwill. But in its defence, the centre said it had initially told her to seek medical advice on the suitability of its treatment. Marketing has reached out to LWM for comment.
However, the beauty industry has long faced criticism regarding misleading advertisements. Last year, ASAS noted an all time high increase on the volume of feedback on the beauty industry. Not only had the number increased, it also topped the 2014 list with the highest percentage (42.8%) of feedback. Noting how beauty brands have been aggressive in their advertising, ASAS said that they often used claims that are misleading, unclear or lack substantiation.
According to Seah Seng Choon, executive director of CASE, “all advertisements should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers.” Seah explained that under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), it is an unfair practice to make misleading or false claims in relation to a consumer transaction.
For the case of Gan who is trying to claim SG$450,000 in refund and damages, Seah said she can seek redress under the CPFTA but the claim limit is SG$30,000 and a time bar is two years.
He added that the principles of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP) states that advertisements must not “misrepresent any information to mislead consumers into believing any matter that is not true, such as the obligation (or non-obligation) in using a trial product, and others.”
In March this year, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) said it also received substantially more feedback regarding advertisements that appeared on the Internet and on mobile devices in 2015 as compared to 2014.