A hair salon in China is under investigation for telling a customer a hair perm and styling cost 398 yuan (US$60) but afterwards charged him 4,776 yuan (US$720) under a bizarre system whereby they divided his scalp into 12 “sections” with each costing the quoted price for the service.
The man, surnamed Liu, went to the Zhenxuan Hair Salon in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, eastern China, last week to have a hair perm and styling.
A hairstylist there recommended a hair service supposedly costing US$60, which Liu agreed to, the City Express newspaper reported.
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But when he was presented with the bill, Liu was astonished to see a demand for the staggering sum that was 12 times higher.
The staff told him that the initially quoted price was for just one area of his scalp which the salon had secretly divided into 12 areas — for each of which he was charged the quoted amount.
Liu said he felt he had no choice other than to try and pay the amount despite the alleged deception and paid 3,000 yuan (US$447) for a “gift card” after salon staff told him he could get 50 per cent off.
After he shared his experience on social media it quickly came to the notice of the market supervision authority of Hangzhou which launched an investigation on Friday.
The salon is accused of setting its prices in a deceptive way and committing price fraud, officials said.
The salon was also caught using a lotion from South Korea without any label information in Chinese characters, which is illegal in China. The lotion was used on Liu’s scalp during his treatment.
The salon has been ordered to close during the investigation and change its pricing practices, but it is unclear if Liu will receive a refund.
Mainland consumers are frequently overcharged and left with exorbitant bills, with consumer fraud a major problem in China.
In February, a woman complained that a major hospital in Beijing had illegally charged her 38,000 yuan (US$5,655) for keeping her mother’s body for three days after she died.
Zhengzhou TV reported in September last year that a woman had to pay 198,000 yuan (US$29,465) for a one-hour body massage at a beauty parlour in the city. The local market authority later investigated the case.
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