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

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