Think twice before signing a contract for self-beauty treatment! While low price and convenience highlighted, there's been problems related to injuries and cancellation
Recently, there have been an increasing number of inquiries and complaints about self-beauty treatment contracts. Under such a contract, a consumer can use devices and facilities which are advertised equally effective as those in beauty salons after being instructed how to use them.
There are two types of inquiries and complaints: those about injuries (e.g. "After applying a device on my face, the skin was reddened and inflamed like burns.") and those about cancellation (e.g. "When I applied for cancellation, I was told that cancellation was possible only after six months from the effective date.").
In order to prevent similar problems, NCAC would like to share typical cases and issue a consumer alert.
Diagram: Number of inquiries about self-beauty treatment registered with PIO-NET
The number of inquiries amounted to 5 in FY2014, 5 in FY2015, 10 in FY2016, 13 in FY2017, 34 in FY2018 and 52 in FY2019 as of December 31, 2019.
Sampling of inquiries and complaints
- [Case1] After applying a HIFU* device to my face by myself, the lip nerve was damaged.
- On a coupon site, I booked self-beauty treatment service with a HIFU device and visited the salon. At first, I saw an introductory video and received an explanation how to use the HIFU device. I paid about 3,000 yen per use. I used the device properly as I was told. When I was using the device after several visits there, I felt a sharp pain in my lips. I had no feeling in my bottom lip, mouth corners and the inside of my lips. When I visited a neurology department, a doctor said to me, "Due to nerve damage, your lips went numb. I'm not sure if it will recover or not. It may resolve on its own, but I don't know how. I'm not sure how long it will take to fully heal. It may take several months or several years." The salon said, "We will repay you about 3,000 yen, the charge on the last day. Please go to hospital and send us a bill for the medical expenses." I wonder if the salon will really keep paying the expenses.
- * High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a non-invasive therapy that uses focused ultrasound waves to thermally ablate a portion of tissue, causing thermal denaturation.
- [Case2] When I applied for cancellation, I was told that there would be a penalty in case of cancellation within three months.
- After seeing an online ad "self-beauty treatment service as many times as desired starting at 10,000 yen per month," I visited the salon to receive a trial treatment. At first, a staff member told me how to use slimming devices and then I used the devices by myself. After the trial treatment, the staff member recommended me an unlimited service course. I was told that the trial treatment and the initial fee would be free if I signed a contract on the day, so I signed a contract on the spot. On the second thought, I wondered how often I could visit the salon. When I applied for cancellation, the staff member said, "It's a three-month contract. If you cancel the contract now, you need to pay the initial fee of 20,000 yen and the monthly fee of about 35,000 yen for this month." I want to cancel the contract without paying the penalty.
- After I applied a HIFU device to my face for facial lift up, I had trouble with my ears.
- After applying radio and ultrasonic wave devices to my legs, I suffered burns to my legs. I was told that the salon was in no way responsible for the injury.
- Encouraged by an ad "100 yen campaign", I signed a contract. There was no explanation about how to calculate the payment amount. Later I was charged a hefty fee.
- Although I refused to sign a contract, the salesperson kept persuading me to do so and said, "The initial fee will be free if you sign a contract today."
Advice for consumers
- Harmful incidents related to self-beauty treatment service have been reported. Ask for detailed explanation on how to use devices and what kinds of risks there are. If you feel uneasy, do not sign a contract.
- Even if you are told "The initial fee is free," carefully confirm cancellation conditions before signing a contract.
- If you incur any injury, get medical attention right away.
- In case of trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center.