A favourite pastime is trying out new spas, massages and facials in the city, and though I have a list of favourites, I’ve come across some which I’d rather not revisit. I try not to shoot down places, because I know how hard it is to run a business in real-estate crazed Hong Kong, where increased profits mean increased rent. But appalling service is the one thing that is unforgivable. Note: USD1 = HKD7.8 approximate
Mioggi, K-11 Tsim Sha Tsui East
Their centre is located in the stylish K-11 shopping mall, one of my favourite malls in Hong Kong. Sadly Mioggi cannot compare to the cool mall. I went with a Groupon deal, HKD189 for a Korean style facial including needling and a massage, featuring Mioggi products. I was disappointed because the pamphlet looked legit and the reputation decent. The moment I walked in, I was taken aback. The reception area was permeated by the light scent of smoke, something I found unacceptable for a place meant for relaxation and cleansing. After filling in some personal details, I was taken into a boxed room and told my skin was terrible on many levels, and the sales lady recommended I upgrade my Groupon deal to include some moisturising products. I politely declined and said I’m happy to try what they have in the Groupon deal first. I have good skin and am not sensitive to most products, but this tactic of attacking one’s appearance is common in Hong Kong to get people buying products at their most vulnerable. The facial lady (I can’t really call her a therapist…) rather nonchalantly cleansed my face with products and roughly needled my blackheads, without explaining any procedure that she was about to do. There was zero communication and professionalism during the process. After my 1.5 hour treatment, I was taken back to the boxed room for more product sales and treatment packages indoctrination. After I again declined, the sales lady’s attitude changed for the worse, and immediately became cold. Even more reason to NOT return again or buy a long-term package from them! I had to schedule another session for my massage because there wasn’t enough time in one day to complete everything, and I was told that every single weekend that month was full. I then asked to book for the next month, but the same lady said that was forbidden because bookings were not open yet. Incredulous…it was her way of revenge for my refusing to buy anything from her. I opted for a weekday slot without a choice but do not particularly look forward to revisiting.
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, this centre is not a traditional spa and feels more like a clinic. Its main focus is on laser hair removal, but it also provides spa services such as foot massages, facials and body treatments. By its name, it also provides medical beauty services like laser skin renewal and firming treatments. I signed up for a Groupon deal to try out their hair removal services. Like Mioggi, their tactics included putting you down, harshly criticising your body, and then suggesting procedures that you should carry out on top of the purchased Groupon deal. I was cornered in a room for 15 minutes with a lady selling me plans. I said I wasn’t ready, and would rather try their services first based on the Groupon package and then decide. The tone of the lady changed and there was suddenly aggression in her voice. “No problem. I’ll get you your therapist.” 25 minutes later, my hair-therapist arrived, an unnecessarily long waiting time, and I was brought into a room to try the laser procedure. The therapist was nice enough and very professional, and the whole process took 15 minutes. But afterwards I was again brought into the same office room and bombarded once again with options to buy their skin services. Note that I still had another 5 times of treatment on my Groupon deal. I politely refused, and was glad I got away. I’ve subsequently went a few more times after the first rather unpleasant encounter, and each time was the same – sales in room with bad attitude, laser procedure, further sales in room with bad attitude.
I’m almost done my laser ‘course’ and I definitely won’t recommend anyone going. There are far better options like Muse, Dermes, Swiss and they sometimes have trials too if you want to test out their services before slashing out thousands for a course.
Beware of Sales Tactics and Traps
This is more for Hong Kong locals. I have sympathy for those working in the Hong Kong services industry because their wages partly derive from a low fixed wage plus commission for beauty products they sell. They have an incentive to push as many products to the customer to boost their own monthly income. I find it offensive though, when I’m told per contract that I’m to receive a certain service with specific products for a certain price, but am coerced, forced, badgered into buying an upgrade of the very service I wish to try. This has happened on multiple occasions on Groupon deals. The deal is merely to lure you to the beauty parlour so they have a chance to lock you in room and sell you their real products – the Groupon one was merely a front. Excessive selling can happen even when you’re paying the full price for treatments at spas or beauty centres with a lax code of ethics. Some accept this type of behavior and think bad service should be expected from Groupon deals. I disagree. No matter what price you pay, you should be given the service you are promised. Groupon lists out the price, treatment minutes, products used, and paints an excellent picture of the spa quality. The service itself shouldn’t be too far from this. There are exceptions – the Ayana spa for instance, was an economical deal and offered excellent services, one which I would go again – but for the most part Groupon deals seem to attract the shoddier service types.
Be alert. Refuse to be put down. When they start attacking your skin quality, your weight, your hair and make you feel uncomfortable, say so. Good responses to have up your sleeve are “My [insert body part] is fine. Can we move on?”, “I’m not interested”, “No, I only want to try the package I paid for”, smile, and say “Not interested”. Go prepared for some sales bombarding, fancy place or not. And if things get out of hand, leave and make a complaint to the Consumer Council. It’s better to lose a few hundred dollars than to lose your self confidence at the words of a stranger.
Also, keep in mind the HK Immigration Regulations now prohibit misrepresentation of products and services. When in doubt, record your experience and voice it via different channels. That’s the only way Hong Kong’s services will improve. Remember – you spend money on yourself to be taken care of and pampered – not to endure someone else’s unfounded criticism and mean remarks – just to get you to buy stuff.
Featured image credit http://megahdwall.com/