Sunday, June 03, 2007


A few days back, I read about a group of clients of a hair treatment salon that has folded up or something. That group of unfortunate clients had signed up for hair treatment courses with that particular salon and they have each paid thousands of ringgit in advance. Now half-way through, the shutters are just pulled down and the customers are left with nothing. The aggrieved parties have lodged reports here and there and have approached the authorities for help. I don’t know what the chances are of getting back their money and I hope they’ll get some recourse. Pity some, they may just tear their hair out in despair.

And just recently, someone I know was a victim of the 'Excellence Holidays scam'. Poor thing. She had saved for years for this holiday to Europe this coming summer. As the tour was booked at the recent Matta Fair, she and her travel companion had to pay the full fare upfront, months in advance of the expected travel date. What a shock she got when she read that the tour agency has folded up. And she lost quite a fair sum.

I too, was once a victim of this kind of ‘pay-up-front’ scam. Long, long time ago, when I was new in KL, I was introduced to a beauty salon that offered very attractive packages…you pay RMXXX for a certain number of treatments over a number of months, and they threw in a few extra freebies. If I chose to go for the pay-per-treatment option, then I would have to pay more and be without the extra freebies. The sucker that I was, I signed up and paid the full amount of RM700 or something, I cannot really remember now. Anyway, when I went for my third session, I found the shutters pulled down with a notice that the premises had been sealed. Oh my God, that good-for-nothing woman had absconded. Wah…I forgot already what words I used to curse her 3 generations back and maybe another few generations after. That cheapskate conwoman! May she die a shriveled old prune!!!

Another time was when I signed up for some foot-reflexology treatments. Pay per visit, then it would be RM30 per session but it would only cost RM250 for 10 sessions if I were to pay upfront. Nothing too big an amount and I paid the RM250. I went for the sessions in the evenings and then would come straight home to bed. I remember it was the 6th or 7th session or so, when the masseur must have been over enthusiastic and rubbed too hard. I woke up the next morning with a bruised right sole. I went back to the outlet and showed them my foot. The masseur said it was nothing serious and even made a lame joke that maybe I kicked on something or what. I was not amused and I asked for the balance of my money back. He just laughed and waved me off, ”No money back one lar. You can come anytime for the balance of 3 sessions.” Okie, I told him, I’ll just walked over to the newspaper office nearby and see if they can help me. That took the smirk from his face and he opened his cash register and gave me back my money.

Now, I am just too wary to go for all these pay-up-front packages or courses or whatever they call it. It may cost a little bit more but I’d like to still stick to my pay-per-use rule. And they can keep their freebies.

posted by nyonyapenang at 7:04 PM, |


  At 8:27 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, there is no, never such thing as a free lunch or whatever.
When something sounds too good to be true, thats when you better put on your reverse gear and hightail out of that.
Sad to hear of your loss and the other people you mentioned.
Even here we get calls "Mr Lee, you have won a free trip to Hawaii". I tell them very good, send me the tickets.
Then they come up with, "ohh, you have to come to our office...and all that mangga voonga stuff. So I tell them to "go find another nut"!
Anything you have to pay up front, its chabut time.
Take care Nyonya. UL.
  At 9:25 PM Blogger ah nel said:
tat wat a malaisian owes go for...freebies then in the end wat they pay cost more of those freebies...

it seem tat khai mah ledi learn her lesson ;)
This is the first time I leave my mark here. Although I have visited your site many a times.

Touch wood, I have never experince any of these scams.
My friends parents also booked the same tour you mentioned during the Matta Fair in Ipoh. All their life savings gone. So far no news re- getting their money back. Sad isn it ?
  At 11:00 PM Blogger AceOne118 said:
Kena con once smarter another time ledi loh!
If you get the stuff in one shot then I don't mind paying upfront. Otherwise, pay-per-use sounds better. Because if you have to terminate the service or whatsoever before the allocated quantity finishes, at least you don't suffer so much. :)
Nyonya ... I'm pretty sure there are packages out there that are good value, and really run their course.

But like you've decided, I've long ago thought that I'll pay as I use ... because I'm not sure I want to commit to a long term package ...
  At 12:20 AM Blogger Will said:
that's true... sometimes these pay upfront packages can be quite dangerous, because they can take your money and cabut anytime
so poor thing those that lost their money..hope the authorities can really do something, at least help them to get back, even if not the full amount.

Nyonyapenang, I agree with your 'pay per use policy', thats what I like to do too. I use, I pay, I dun use or dun like after, I dont hv to suffer anymore :)

have a good week!
  At 1:52 AM Blogger angel said:
Sometimes pay-per-use really much more expensive wor...

But thanks for the 'reminder' abt the horniday packages. I shall remember not to 'pong chan' those small2 shops... if want, better go Reliance, rite? Or just buy own flight ticket and sendiri kaotim...
Luckily those massage joints I go to no need to pay in advance. The piaomeis allow me to hutang summore! LOL
  At 4:09 AM Blogger J.T. said:
Feel sad for your loss. A lesson learned, nevertheless. It may cost a bit more but safer to go by pay-per-use.
One has to be very careful about holiday packages. Some are fly-by-night companies looking to make a fast buck. If one wants to take the opportunity to jump on good deals, one has to research a bit too. If a booking and payment has been made, always ask the agent for the airline ticket number. All paid tickets have their unique numbers. Then double check with the airline itself that they have your name in their reservation system.
There were some trips where I had to change planes and airlines three times (good offers but multiple airlines). So I called up each airline to make sure I am in their system and even went ahead to book my seating too if the agent did not do it. They usually follow up with a confirmation by email or fax if you request for it.
Nyonya Penang, this is a good posting to remind the public not to be too gullible about free offers. :)
  At 9:19 AM Blogger said:
I never pay for anything which I would not be able to finish using this month.
Anything more than 30 days, is too long for me.
  At 10:56 AM Anonymous mott said:
sigh..sadly we get conned quite easily..not just you. if it's not beauty packages, it's something simple like buying 1 HUGE packet of disposable food..and then finding out you can't finish it before expiry.

ah well...that is life!
  At 1:18 PM Blogger William said:
But sometimes it's oh-so-tempting...

And btw... the post title is a tad suggestive... lol.
Hi Uncle Lee,
They ask to pay up front and you get like 20% cheaper and moreover some of them come up with interest-free schemes through credit cards. I suppose there are the genuine ones but it always take the rotten apples to spoil everything.

Re: those calls from telemarketeers offering 'free trips', etc..I'll just tell them, "No, thank you."

Thanks for your advice, Uncle Lee.

You take care too. :)
ah nel,
you dunno meh, the word 'FREE' attracts people like flies to a flame? :D
hi aiyah nonya,
a warm welcome to you. jemput masuk....**brings a cup of kopi or kau.**

oftentimes consumers are left holding the shorter end of the stick. even with those whatever they call it, Consumer Claims court, etc..sometimes, the process to take action takes sooooo lonnnng until they wear you out and you just give up. sad huh?

Thanks for dropping by, aiyah nonya. Hope to see you here again.
Have a nice day. :)
kena ketuk sure lar...can remember.
this ketuking thingy, sure is a good teacher. :)

get the stuff all upfront, then you won't be in any of these cheh-kai scheme ler. a good example will be buying a car or electrical equipment on hire purchase scheme.
anyway, sekarang gua lari jauh-jauh ler..dowan go near them at all. :)

moz monster,
of course, there are the genuine ones. but then like you said, I don't think i want to commit for something to far liao, half-way thru, kick bucket how leh?

they cabut and leave you with a piece of useless receipt. :(
the last i heard from the lady who got cheated of her tour package money, the victims are told to register here and there and everywhere but at the same time told to be prepard to get nothing back. i then asked her what's all that for and she said that it's only an exercise to find out the extend/size of the scam. **slaps forehead**.

ya, now i am into pay-per-use and they can keep the freebies.

you have a good week too. :)
hi angel,
ya, the packages are sure more attractive, but then...gua ini dunno lar...kena a few times liao, face also turned purple.

as for that excellence horriday scam, according to my friend, they put up the most number of booths at the Matta buzar the my friend and many others too, were impressed lar.
hi angel,
ya, buying own tickets direct from airlines will save them from con-job and then sendili plan itinerary.
**psssssst...when..when..we gonna do that....**
cocka doodle,
no wonder i spied a stack of buka 555 in your pocket. got hutang and with early settlement, piao mei throw in freebies summore....hahaha...
hi j.t.,
Apparently, that particular kongsi is an established one and they took up many booths at the legitimate Matta Fair, so the people did not sniff out anything fishy. And at this fair held twice yearly, there are really good deals and the catch is they have to pay up full. Just unfortunate that the group that signed up with this kongsi kena teruk-teruk.

Oh yes, for me kena ketuk a few times already...I learned fast after that. hahaha...

Many just sign at the dotted line, pay up and consider everything kow tim. And it's good that you are very systematic, organised and meticulous.... a little bit extra work saves you from all the headaches.

Thanks for the tips and advice.

You have a great week ahead. :)
you are a very wise man. so bila boleh sit down and pick up a few tips from you?
hi mott, remind me about those buy 4-get-1-free or buy 2 kgs get half a kg free. whatever for ya, especially when the food are perishables. and the worst is when we buy into the promoter's idea/suggestions that we can share the food with our friends and then we find ourselves driving around distributing food. jilat or not?
sorry, mott.
typo error...i mean to say 'jialat'. :P
hi william,
errrmm...'oh-so-tempting' just like the title of my post???
  At 3:59 PM Blogger eve said: MIL just signed up for a course of massage session..10 2hrly sessions for 20% less...I hope she din kena conned...
  At 5:00 PM Blogger Jonzz said:
I guess it would have be more safer to stick with those established organizations instead of an independant unknown shop but then again, who knows...
yerrr i oso sked leow..cannot go matta fair leow lor...lucky i got my ticket ledi!
har?? an exercise to find out the extend/size of the scam!! these words to say. i oso wanna slap forehead...even if dun get money back, i hope those cheaters will get caught and given their deserved punishment.
  At 1:51 AM Blogger FireHorse said:
So far I have never paid up front for treatments before, not because I dun wan to but becoz oso dun have the money to pay in full. But dun worry nyonya, lesson oredi learn so it won't happen again right?
  At 2:16 AM Anonymous marsha said:
luckily i am not the only one to be suckered into such things. zankyu for sharing. makes me feel a lot better already!!!! :-)
nyonya jie. Haiyo.
I still got a lot to learn from you.
I should ask: When would I have the honour, for you to come visit me?
of course, there are honest and genuine ones. it's was just my 'luck' to kena ketuk lidat. :)

whether big/established or small, we go with them in good faith and it's sickening when they just take us for a 'lulu' lidat.

perhaps, for the next Matta Fair, the organizers should make the participants put up some kind of 'performance bond' or something to protect the innocent customers.

my friend and her travel companion lost about RM15,000.
cry also no tears liao.
jialat hor?
the cheaters, proly they are still walking around....just declare bankrupt nia need to die one. there are many ways to skin a cat. :(
hi marsha, are wicked. :D
hi yenjai,
i am soooo humbled. ^-^
you see, i am actually very afraid to go kacau you. lockter very busy mia ler. :)
  At 4:50 PM Blogger Sasha said:
thats why i dun go for packages. Not that i sked kena con l. But sometimes after sign up if dun like how? If no time how? Better pay per visit la
hi sasha,
betul lar, lu cakap...kalo tak suka or tak ngam, it's gonna be big-time lecheh.
  At 6:03 PM Blogger J.T. said:
I have a silly question (or maybe not that silly), how come the organisers of the Matta Fair do not weed out the 'kongsi' groups before approving their participation? It is so easy to make one company look so well established these days but a little of research (well, my naive thought, anyway) will show that they have duped customers before. I believe that is the responsibility of the organisers. When they let loose these 'kongsi' groups, they are also at risk of creating a bad name for Malaysia. Locals are probably not the only ones being cheated. Foreigners become victims too. *sigh*
just declare bankrupt and walk scotfree?! sigh..what is the world coming to..
hi j.t.,
i suppose the organizers have checked to make sure that the participants have their papers in order - business licence, tour operator licence from the ministry, etc, etc. but i dunno if the kongsis are check for financial health.

so if licence semua in order and signed & the paid for the booth space....then ready for business lor.

whether they cheat locals or foreigners, they are still cheaters. and of course, the damage to an already 'tattered image'...**sighsss**
maybe there are a few rich ones walking around.
  At 3:12 PM Blogger Bernard said:
Consumer : 1
Corporation : 0

You scored one for the consumer, nyonya, high-5.