Disclaimer: If you are reading this from ping.sg, the title *is misleading*! This post is really about a photo studio named “Naughty  by nature” and how they apparently coerced people into paying for their makeover photos. Alice wrote a post on it here some time in March 2008. Now, I’d try to be objective about the whole thing.

I received calls from them previously saying that there’s a free makeover of sorts. I didn’t go eventually because… I get paid to get my photos taken (sniggers a little), but that isn’t the main point. The main point is that people will have to know that there’s hardly any free lunch these days.  Of course, the ones mentioned here is not counted because they are really free. The idea behind such calls is really to get people to go down, get their pictures taken and they may not get the pictures they want because the main objective is really to sell it to them. Well, they might get one or two not-too-bad but perhaps not-too-nice looking pictures, but… that’s what you get for free, I guess. So, that’s on the end of the consumers.

Next, I’m going to talk about their tactics. If you are aware of the tactics used by slimming centers, you’d be familiar with psychological warfare tactics. I read that in some slimming centers, they strip you down to your birthday bathing suit and start commenting on how fat/ugly/wrinkled/unsightly* you are and start recommending you their products. Same theory, I guess, except that, according to the article, the studio probably tell you how nice you look and how wasteful it will be for the pictures to be deleted PERMANENTLY. Of course, there’s a chance that the pictures will be deleted but not cleared from the rubbish bin. So, it’s really psychological. However, if it’s true that the customers were prevented from leaving the place unless they purchase something, then technically, it’s unlawful because the studio will be detaining the customers by force. Then again, nothing can stop you from forcing and pushing your way out if you really want to. The customers are probably just pai seh lah.

Now, is it fair for the studio to deploy such free-photoshoot tactics to lure people into it. Well, I’d say it’s a fair game. Just like California Fitness. They call you up, tell you that there’s something free, then you’d have to prepare to lose some hours and perhaps some money. If you have skin as thick as a rhino, then you can just tell them with a straight face that you’d just want the free stuffs. Of course, service may be compromise, but hey, it’s a free lunch, isn’t it? =)

Have you been “nature by nature”-d?

* delete where applicable

THEY were promised free makeovers and photo shoots. Instead, the customers of a photo studio in Circular Road said that they were pressured into buying packages that cost up to $4,000.

The hard-sell from studio Naughty by Nature sparked dozens of complaints to Singapore’s consumer watchdog and eventually landed the company in court.

Yesterday, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said that the company had agreed to change its sales pitch earlier this year.

Last September, Naughty by Nature had been temporarily barred by a district court from pushing pricey photo packages, Case said in a press release.

The consumer group had applied for the injunction after receiving 63 complaints about Naughty by Nature between 2005 and 2007, said Case executive director Seah Seng Choon.

Most of the complaints had been filed by women.

Mr Seah said that Naughty by Nature’s employees had once refused to let a customer leave the studio without buying a photo set. After staying for about four hours, the customer bought a package for about $3,000.

The customers got freebies, such as two photographs, only after they agreed to buy a package.

Co-owner of Naughty by Nature Bupendra Ramason defended his company’s sales pitch and said that the unhappy customers were in the minority.

‘I think they were shy people who were uncomfortable with our sales strategies. Most of our customers are families and we don’t have any problems with them,’ he said.

He added that, since the injunction, the studio has tried its best to abide by Case’s requests.

For example, sales presentations are now limited to only an hour when dealing with female customers.

The employees also give the two free photographs to the customers before the sales presentation.

Mr Ramason, 41, set up the studio in Circular Road in 2004 with business partner Raoul Martin Fenianos. He currently employs 90 staff members, of whom nine are full-time photographers.

A check on online forums and blogs showed that there were many customers who were unhappy with Naughty By Nature’s sales strategies.

One, 42-year-old Tan Ngiap Heng, told the Straits Times about being pressured to buy a $1,000 book of photographs after taking part in a photo shoot two years ago.

‘I felt that I was being blackmailed psychologically because they told me they would delete my photos immediately if I decided not to buy the package,’ he said.

He did not buy the package and subsequently made a complaint to Case.

Mr Ramason said that business had not been affected by the bad publicity.

Case and Naughty by Nature have agreed to settle disputes with the unhappy customers through an arbitration session chaired by a neutral third party.  

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 12th June 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. Ling | June 24th, 2010 at 11:25 am

    reading these comments “please update me” if anybody doing anything makes me sick. Singaporeans are so cash rich and complacent.. sit there and wait. Wait lor ,wait some more your money surely won’t come back. I was a victim myself too, the most basic thing you can do for yourself is go to Small Claims Tribunal. You will sure get some amount of money back if not full. Don’t do anything sit infront of computer, justice will not drop from the sky. nobody do anything, wait for somebody do some legal action, nothing will happen. the more cases go to Tribunal, the better. And yet you people just choose to write here and wait for someone to do something. No wonder such scams can happen in singapore. singaporeans…. ai….

  2. Diana | June 25th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Dear Members,
    I’ve already lodge a police report against Naughty by Nature (NbyN) and the Police are still investigating this matter. I was told if I wanna proceed to do a claim under SCT, I may do so.. if not I can wait till the IO update me on any latest updates. Any members who lodge a police report too?

  3. Joshua | July 5th, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Guys!

    Just came back from the Small Claims court consultation. There were 8 of us this morning. There was no representation from NBYN.

    The registra agreed to award us our right to claim our fees back from NBYN. The problem is that I personally don’t think that they have anything to pay us back with.

    1 month later we can then enforce the claim and seize their assests at their registered location. Which from what I heard has nothing already.

    We then marched down to CPIB (Criminal Practices Investigation Bureau?) to try and lodged a commercial crime report against them. Apparently the CAD officer told us that they are aware about the case with NBYN but they are unable to do anything at this time as what NBYN has done is a breach of contract and not a commercial crime.

    From what I heard, there may be a possibility of sueing an individual even if he owns a Pte Ltd company. Is this true?

    I will be giving a call to CASE again after this experience to see if there is anything else that can be done.

    For those of you that have not lodged a Small Claims case against NBYN, I suggest that you do that first. This will then make it more difficult for them to close the company down, but I honestly don’t know if we can get our money back.

  4. Joshua | July 5th, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    There’s a faceook group that has just been setup. Here’s the link:
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=132575836776859

    See you guys there!

  5. Anthea Goh | July 7th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I am a victim too. Signed a package of about $3.5K a few years ago (cannot rem exact date) due to their super hardsell & their “refused to let me go until i sign” tactics.

    I’ve only used 1X annual family photo shoot session & 1X bi-annual event photography, but the MAIN “albums” had not been utilized at all!

    Please include me in any group legal action against NbyN.
    My email: antheagoh@hotmail.com

  6. Lilis | July 14th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Dear All user here, we’re in the mid of discussion and taking some serious action now. If u’re keen to join us at facebook. we hv a profile for NbyN. FYI tis whole thing is a scam, not genuine biz failure. http://www.facebook.com/tos.php?api_key=f2c86836d33b404e177e72984a26a188&next=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.facebook.com%2Fi-know-myth-buster%2Fdefault.aspx&display=page&canvas&locale=en_US#!/group.php?gid=132575836776859&ref=ts

  7. Ruth | August 24th, 2010 at 1:43 am

    Was anyone sold the package by this person George Gill? He seems to be a residential and sales leasing in 21st century!

    http://www.singaporerealtors.com/realtors.html

  8. B.N. Ong | October 27th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I was on vacation in London when this happened. I got back thinking of paying them a visit but drove by and they no long exist. Please keep me posted… it’s been sometime in 2008 I signed up and have misplace my documents. I do have their membership card and email correspondences that they did not reply.

    Please keep me posted my email is ongbeeneo@gmail.com

    Thanks

  9. Shenji San | December 1st, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Oh not again ! Another scam in Singapore and CASE supposing representing and supposing the image of Singapore, not able to anything to help.

    Very sad to hear this as a foreigner.

    If possible keep me posted , what can be done and the latest development.

    ありがとうございます – Shenji San

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