PHOTOGRAPHY VERNON WONG, ART DIRECTION & STYLING SALLY HO, STYLING ASSISTANT & TEXT MICHELLE LEE.
SINGAPORE - Singapore’s consumer watchdog intends to publish online a list of cancellation charges for wedding packages at various hotels here, in a bid to urge them to be more transparent after its latest survey found excessive fees being charged.
Despite giving advance notice, some consumers have had to pay almost the full cost of the package which can come up to $50,000.
Others had their deposit- ranging from $1,000 to $8,000- forfeited despite having found replacement couples to take over the bookings.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) is currently in talks with the Singapore Hotel Association to come up with an industry standard for cancellation of wedding packages.
There is no standardised penalty system practised by the industry now and cancellation fees are decided by hotel management on a case-by-case basis.
“Often, consumers were inevitably taken aback by the high cancellation charges, as these were not made known to them when the contract was signed and at that point in time, they are in no emotional state to bargain with the hotels,” said Case’s president Lim Biow Chuan on the sidelines of World Consumer Rights Day festivities on Sunday.
Only 18 out of 100 hotels responded when Case approached them for details on their cancellation policy.
Mr Lim said he understands that most hotels are reluctant to share such details publicly, but noted that his association will apply more pressure should hotels remain uncooperative or continue having unfair practices. For example, while it currently did not name the hotels behind the various cancellation policies listed online, it may do so in future for errant ones.
In the past four years, Case has handled 23 cases involving cancellation of wedding banquets.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on March 15, 2015. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.
The image above was first featured in Her World Brides September - November 2014.