SINGAPORE: Couples who signed wedding packages with bridal studio Beautiful Love Wedding have been left in the lurch after the studio suddenly closed down on Monday (Dec 9).
Customers complained on social media that they could not contact the studio, which is based in Joo Chiat Road.
In response to CNA queries, the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) said it has received 34 complaints against the studio since Monday.
“In general, consumers complained that the company has failed to honour their wedding packages, which were paid in full or partially, and that they had not been able to contact the company," said CASE executive director Loy York Jiun.
More than S$103,000 have already been forked out in prepayments by customers, said Mr Loy, adding that CASE has reached out to the studio about the matter.
Founder of Beautiful Love Wedding Nigel Lee told CNA he decided the close the studio on Monday "due to increasing cost".
“Despite the closure our customers is still our priority and what we owe we will repay. We will be contactable throughout the period with regards to our existing customers packages,” he said.
He did not respond to queries about the number of clients who have outstanding packages and whether the studio will be refunding its customers.
Noting that there were couples who signed packages with the studio as recent as two weeks ago, Mr Lee said his team thought they would be able to raise the funds to continue the business, but they failed to do so.
The studio rejected couples who were keen to sign packages with them over the weekend and last Wednesday, he added.
Mr Lee denied that his team could not be contacted, adding that a former staff member and himself have been trying their best to help couples.
The landlords, represented by KF Property Network, will be taking back the unit due to rental arrears, said Mr Lee.
When CNA visited the studio on Tuesday, there were notices posted on the studio's door and display window. The notices said the studio was in breach of its tenancy agreement and owes S$16,280 in rent and outstanding late payment interest, with payments due since September.
The landlord is in the midst of seeking legal recourse, said a spokesman from Knight Frank, of which KF Property Network is a subsidiary.
PAY FOR PACKAGES IN INSTALMENTS: CASE
One bride, who only wanted to be known as Rachel, said she had signed a full wedding package with the studio about a month ago and was shocked to find out that the studio folded.
She was unable to contact the studio after discovering that her coordinator was no longer working for them, and she has yet to be contacted by Mr Lee and his team.
“We thought of engaging them after seeing them at a bridal fair. I don’t know if this is considered a red flag, but they offered us a lower price if we paid a deposit of more than half the total price," she said.
The package, which includes gown rental and a pre-wedding photoshoot, cost more than S$4,000, Rachel added.
She has approached CASE and the police for assistance.
When transacting with bridal studios, consumers should research different studios before signing a package. They should patronise bridal studios that offer prepayment protection or insurance, Mr Loy said.
“These schemes allow consumers to claim back the unused portion of their prepayment in the event of sudden business closure. Under such circumstances, consumers are advised to request for proof of protection to facilitate resolution in the event of a claim," he added.
They should also negotiate for an initial deposit instead of paying the full amount upfront to minimise loss if the business closes, and make progressive payments as each part of the package is completed, said Mr Loy.
Brides and grooms should check that there is a refund policy in the terms and conditions of the contract.
“If the bridal studio fails to honour the package, consumers who paid by credit cards can file a charge back request with their banks within 120 days of the date of transaction," Mr Loy said.