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However, the team conducted a survey 9 , both
online and at Raffles Place. Results show that 33% of
the 50 people surveyed are aware that spa treatments
like ear candling do not work. This is an ironic finding
because the team feels that as spa operators, it is
assumed that they should have better product
knowledge than their customers.
Through a telephone interview with Yen Wellness
Spa10, the firm’s stand is that ear candling is effective
and beneficial to one’s constitution. Despite having
stated our skepticism on the effectiveness of the
treatment by means of a FDA report on the
ineffectiveness of ear candling, the interviewed
therapist was insistent that the treatment was safe
and refuted the report.
As such it is very clear that the spa operators
themselves do not have complete product knowledge
with regards to ear candling. The two interviewed spa
firms have not considered if the effectiveness of
treatments like ear candling have been proven to work
or not. The team feels that such considerations should
be done before deciding to sell a product to
consumers. Ethical Analysis
At first glance it is unethical for both Balik Kampung and Yen Wellness Spa to provide such
treatment that is neither proven safe nor effective. For
an industry where ties are built on mutual trust
between the customer and the business entity, it
would be an obvious breach of consumer rights if
consumers are not rendered the right to their personal
safety and to be informed of the treatments’
Hitherto, ear candling is still legal in Singapore
and there are no reported incidents of injuries
resulting from the use of this treatment. Ear candling
is part of the spa culture and most spas provide it. If a
spa discontinues the provision of ear candling, it risks
losing customers to its competitors. At Yen Wellness
Spa, ear candling is provided to its customers
regularly and business is brisk. Despite the lack of
scientific evidence, many customers have testified to
its benefits, such as relief of sinus and headache.
Here, there seems to be sufficient justification for
the benefits derived from the continued practice of this
treatment. However, in light of FDA’s stand and claims
from injured consumers against this treatment, the
human and social costs of this practice do outweigh
its economic benefits. The human costs of injuring a
vital body part permanently, is far more serious than
just lower revenue for the spa operators.
In the event that should such incidents occur in
Singapore, the effects on the spa industry would be
overwhelming. Not only would businesses be affected,
the image of the spa industry would be compromised.
Coupled with the fact that many spa treatments do not
have scientific backing that they actually work, people
will start to doubt the safety and effectiveness of the
other spa treatments offered by spa operators.
Fingers will also be pointed at health officials for
not spotting the dangers of such treatments. As an
internationally recognized and reliable research
agency for drug and product safety, it would be
assumed by the public that such information will be
passed on by the US FDA to the local Health
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- Winter '14