Contract for beauty treatment did not specify details of treatment and the number of times
A written contract for beauty treatment did not specify service content such as details of treatment and the number of times. The consumer wanted to exercise the cooling-off right because of the inadequacy of the document, but the beauty treatment business did not admit the inadequacy at first. NCAC mediated between the consumer and the business. The following shows details of the case.
Details of the inquiry
A friend of mine said to me, "You can have a trial beauty treatment at a low price," and I visited the beauty salon. After receiving the trial beauty treatment, I was induced to sign up for a slimming treatment course of 324,000 yen (5,400 yen per time × 60, hereinafter called "the course"). I was unsure if I could afford such expensive service by just working part-time. The person in charge said, "You can pay in installments, for instance 10,000 yen per month." I thought I could manage somehow and entered into the contract on the spot (hereinafter called "the contract"). I was told to fill in necessary fields on three documents: a document containing an outline of the contract, a contract for the beauty treatment, and a contract for receiving the intermediation of individual credit purchases. Being a student, I didn't fill in the income field at first. The person in charge told me to write 960,000 yen as annual income, and I did so.
After visiting the beauty salon four or five times for the beauty treatment, the person in charge said, "There are only a limited number of times left," and solicited me to purchase additional treatment service. Although I thought the course should cover 60 times of treatment, I didn't dare to mention it. My father happened to know that I had entered into the contract, and told me that it was too expensive for me. I regretted what I had done and applied for mid-term cancellation of the contract.
At a later date, a statement of account was delivered to me from the beauty treatment business. Although I had received 7 times of treatment at the beauty salon, the statement indicated that 50 times of treatment had been provided. I was charged about 300,000 yen, excluding the amount I had already paid. I don't understand why the business has charged me for more than I received.
(female student in her 20s)
NCAC interviewed the inquirer and confirmed the documents delivered from the beauty treatment business, in cooperation with the local consumer affairs center which had received the inquiry. Considering that the contract fell under the category of contracts on specified continuous service offers under the Act on Specified Commercial Transactions, NCAC sorted out the following issues.
- The written contract just stated as service content "the course name, unit price 5,400 yen, 60 times". Another document showed a table indicating the course name, duration of treatment and the number of times for each bodily part, for instance, "body course, about 30 minutes, 8 times". However, the table didn't clarify the basis for calculation, i.e. total hours of treatment for each course, the number of times consumed for each course, etc.
- The statement of account indicated that the treatment had costed between 20,000 yen and 60,000 yen per visit and that 50 times of treatment had been provided, although the inquirer visited the beauty salon only 7 times for the beauty treatment. The statement of account did not clarify how the service had been provided or how the number of times had been counted, so the basis for calculation was still unclear.
- In order to let the student pass the credit examination, the beauty treatment business told her to write a false annual income on the contract for receiving the intermediation of individual credit purchases to enable her to sign up for the expensive contract.
Accordingly, the written contract did not satisfy legal requirements under the Act on Specified Commercial Transactions because the document did not specify details of treatment and the basis for calculation. Based on the above, it was construed that the contract could be canceled under the cooling-off rule because of the inadequacy of the document.
NCAC questioned the beauty treatment business about descriptions in the written contract and alleged that the consumer was eligible for exercising the cooling-off right because of the inadequacy of the document. In addition, NCAC asked if the business had told her to write a false annual income.
The beauty treatment business did not accept cancellation of the contract under the cooling-off rule. The business insisted as follows:
- The expression "# course, 30 minutes, 8 times" means that the # course takes 30 minutes and costs 43,200 yen (unit price 5,400 yen × 8), not meaning that the course provides four hours (30 min × 8) of treatment in total. We gave a sufficient explanation to her.
- None of our staff members have filled in customer fields in a credit contract. We have never induced customers to write a certain annual income.
NCAC repeatedly pointed out that it was not possible to understand the calculation method by reading the written contract. The beauty treatment business finally admitted that the document was inadequate and accepted cancellation of the contract under the cooling-off rule. At a later date, NCAC confirmed that the inquirer's payment was refunded to her account, and concluded the consultation.
Recently, the annual number of inquiries about beauty treatment service registered to PIO-NET* has stayed around 7,000 to 8,000. It is one of the common categories of inquiries. The inquiries highlighted cases of inadequate contract documents. For example, details of treatment were not clearly specified or the calculation method was unclear due to a complicated system of beauty treatment courses.
It is often the case that beauty treatment contracts are confusing for consumers and the treatment takes a long period of time. In order to avoid trouble like the above, it is necessary for beauty treatment providers to give a detailed explanation on the contractual coverage, details of treatment, terms of cancellation, etc., considering characteristics of each consumer.
When concluding a beauty treatment contract, consumers need to carefully read documents delivered and to confirm details of treatment, the number of times, prices, etc. If there's anything unclear about the contract, consumers should ask the business for further explanation.
Some of the consumers who got in trouble over a beauty treatment contract concluded a contract for receiving the intermediation of the individual credit purchases to enter into an expensive contract. When being solicited, consumers may be told "The monthly payment is small." In case of installment payment, a service charge is added. Consumers need to consider if the contract is really necessary for them rather than signing up for an expensive contract without careful consideration.
- * PIO-NET is a database that collects information on inquiries concerning consumer affairs by linking NCAC with local consumer affairs centers and similar organizations across Japan via an online network.