I made a huge mistake a few weeks ago by signing up with American Laser Centers. Maybe they are a good company that shows great results, but the fact of the matter is, they lied to me and things happened to where I cannot pay for the procedure. I'm in college and my job just doesn't pay enough for me to afford this.
The lied to me because I asked whether or not I was "special" for getting a $300 off coupon and the woman said I was very lucky for getting that deal. However, I found out through browsing the internet that everyone who enters the online contest recieved the $300 off. When I confronted her about it, she denied it. At the consultation the woman put me on the spot with the %10 off deal if I got the package right then and there. Not wanting to miss a deal, but not knowing of other company's prices, I decided to sign up, check out other places prices, and cancel if I decided not to do it.
I went to some other places, they had better prices, but even then, I realized I could not afford any of them.
When I called ALC to cancel, the woman said I could not cancel, and the package was non-refundable.
I feel tricked into the contract. There were many pages to sign and the only place that stated there was a "non-refundable fee" was on one single page and only 2 small lines which I didn't see in the first place. Also, upon reading it closely, it is ambiguous as to whether it means before the treatments have started of afterwards. I have not started the treatments and now I really don't want these people to touch me.
I paid for it using CareCredit, so I called them up to file a dispute. They told me to try to resolve the situation as best I can first. They mailed me the dispute papers, but I am out of town so I don't know if I will be able to mail them in time. So instead, I wrote a two page letter in detail explaing the situation. Then I decided to call ALC one last time. I spoke to the same woman to see if somehow I could get her to help me out. She said she would call her manager and explain the situation to her. Next, the manager called me, and we got into an extremely heated conversation, which I thoughtfully recorded. Here it is:
First call to "HER"
ME: Hi, my name is Adee, and I called a while ago, actually you called me andthen I called you.
HER: Um yea I've been in meetings all day and I was just about to get on a flight. Is there anyway I can call you back first thing in the morning and get this resolved for ya?
ME: Um..sure. I was just wondering...I tried to contact you because I was going to file a dispute with my credit card company and I just wanted to see if there was any way that you could give me my money back before I file that dispute.
HER: Yea, ok, we have a no refund policy and when you file your dispute, they're gonna call the clinic and make sure we have signatures and they're going to deny your dispute. So I just wanted to call you and tell you that if you want to get an alternative treatment or *inaudible - busses passing - i was outside at the time*
ME: Well yea, I know but I just wanted to...I feel like I have been, like I was um...ok well first of all, I came in thinking I had won a prize. But it turns out that everybody gets it. And so
HER: Not everybody gets the $300 off. The drawing is for $1000 and $500 but
ME: OK, and I was also, I did not understand that the policy on there meant that it was not refundable at all. It seems when I read it now, even though I didn't even see it, she didn't even say anything about the policy even though I signed the paperwork, I didn't know it was a contract.
ME: I know but there were 7 papers and this was one statement ...
HER: *inaudible* I can call the credit manager *inaudible* Unfortunately for buyers remorse, there's nothing we can do.
ME: I'm only 19 and I've never signed a contract before, I don't even know what one is. I don't even know what my rights are when I sign one.
HER: It's one piece of paper. It states where your going to be treated and for how much and *inaudible*
ME: OK, After I found out that this procedure was nonrefundable, I was *sigh* I mean, I am just so upset. I just feel like I've been tricked into signing this, and it's not something that I want to do! I mean, not only did I realize that I can't afford this, but I don't need this, and I don't want it. And I especially don't want a service from a company that I feel I can't trust!
HER: *completely inaudible - sorry...busses everywhere* I have to go, but I can have the credit manager call you first thing tomorrow. OK?
ME: OK, thanks. Bye.
When she called the next day, I was ready with recorder and at home. Most on the recording is audible, except for parts when noisy cars were driving by or I was shaking so bad I couldn't hold the recorder up to the phone properly. I left out names and my name...And yea I was super nervous and stuttering a whole lot.
HER: I wanted to give you a call call back, I spoke with the credit manager, um you know, and talked about exactly what went on in your consultation and as far as paperwork and that type of thing and, and the thing is Adee, with our no refund policy, and CareCredit is well aware of that, we have all the signatures, you sheduled your appointment, it's a little bit different than
some um, *inaudible* where you schedule one appointment and yea that is completely paid, and *inaudible* therefore we are required by law to have a no refund policy. So at this point, I mean, I just can't give you a refund for this. I can transfer it to a different area or service, you can transfer it to anyone else, but I can't issue you a refund.
ME: I can transfer it to someone else?
HER: Uh huh!
ME: How can I transfer it to someone else?
HER: Uh, well if there's someone that you know that wants to have the treatments done, we can...it's transferable. You can let that person have the treatment. You can work out something with them paying you or whatever, I mean that's up to y'all. The point is, we can close your account and transfer it to another
person but you are still responsible for your Care Credit bill.
ME: Is there a customer now that I can transfer it to?
HER: No. You would have to...If you had a family member or a friend that wanted to purchase it from you, at like a discounted rate, so that way you could at least get some of your money back, that's up to you, we would allow you to transfer that package to someone else, but it has nothing to do with us as a
company, and you would still owe Care Credit.
ME: Ok, well I guess don't understand how you can transfer it...and you can...
HER (Interrupting):It's like...you give it to someone else,
ME (Continuing thought):..and change it...
HER: It's like if you wanted to give it to someone else, and let them take advantage of what you paid for, or if you have a family member that wants hair removal, and you're willing to sell it at a discounted price, you can call the clinic and give us their name and they will be coming in for treatments and we
will close your account, not treat you and treat them instead.
ME: Well, I mean, it doesn't seem reasonable that you would be able to do that, but you wouldn't be able to just close, you know, and just cancel....
HER: Well, no because we're not giving anyone their money back. That's why our...
ME: Well, I don't see why, why are, are you scared that people won't..aren't going to like the treatment? I don't understand why you have to make it such a um...a commitment, you know, after, after one....
HER: What's the question...We want you to come in for treatment, that's why we're not giving you a refund. We're not scared of anything. I'm sure if you got your treatments, you'd be %100 happy with the fact that you'd be hair free forever. But that's not....
HER: We're not giving you a refund.
ME: Hair removal, as I have learned, you know, you guys told me that it was um, you know, forever, but it's not.
HER: That's not true.
ME: You can't...
HER: Every hair follicle that has been destroyed by a laser does not ever grow back and if someone misinformed you, then unfortunately you're just being misinformed. You can check that out on any laser website that wants to speak with you about an unbiased opinion of hair removal and it will clearly
ME: Look. I, bottom line, do not feel comfortable with your company, and I do not want anybody there to treat me.
HER: Well I'm sorry, because you were comfortable at the time of your consult and the several weeks after that and you had conversations with *Name Deleted* and you continued to keep your appointment and we made it abundantly clear multiple times that...
ME: I did NOT continue to keep my appointment. I cancelled the appointment. I intended to cancel the entire thing and then I was told that it was nonrefundable which even then doesn't make sense because it should be after I've gotten the treatments, that I would understand, but before I've even started the treatments...
HER: Adee, this is a long term commitment, you don't just have one treatment...
ME: Well with the long term commitment, you can't just do this to people, you can't just force them, you know,
HER (interrupting): Listen, I'm trying to explain this to you as nicely as I can and you have to understand that with this particular medical service, it's at least a years commitment and if you wanted to complete all your treatments and then get a refund, that would be a year from now, that's why as a company, by law, we are entitled to have a no refund policy as long as we are able to provide the service, because this is long term...
ME: Well then you need to tell your customers that that is nonrefundable, there needs to be a disclaimer on that thing. I did know that it was a contract. She did not tell me it was a contract, as far as I could tell, it was just a picture of where I was going to be treated. That was all it looked like.
HER: You signed two different pieces of paper...
ME (really POed): I signed like, 7 pieces of paper and none of them except one mentioned that it was nonrefundable.
HER: We can't argue over each other like this. What I'm saying is that you signed two different pieces of paper that clearly stated nonrefundable.
ME: No, I did not sign two different pieces of paper that stated that.
HER: Yes you did, your care credit receipt clearly states it, as well as your treatment...
ME: But the care credit receipt does not state that.
HER: Yes it does.
ME: No it does not.
HER (in defeat!): OK.
ME: I looked at it, it does not say that.
HER: OK. You...We have your signature on documents that say it is
ME: Yes. I feel like that document was not clear in stating that the procedure was not refundable before I even started it. I was not...
HER: It clearly states that any money you pay before the service is considered nonrefundable. It says it as clearly as that.
ME: That is misleading.
HER: No it's not. I'm sorry if you misunderstood it.
ME: Well I did mistunderstand it then! I did misunderstand it.
HER: Then can I please finish explaining. The clinic manager clearly has said that you were very excited at your consultation and there would be no reason for her to have ever believed that...
ME: You know why? That...I thought that I was winning a $300 off prize, ok? And when I looked up online, I found out that everybody who enters the contest gets the $300 off. Now tell me...
HER: There's hundreds of thousands of people that don't enter contests and get $300 off. There are a two winners in that contest that winn $500 and $1000 off. That is a *inaudible* contest and we give $300 off. I can't...I'll be honest with you, we've never had a client complain that we actually gave them $300 off that a lot of clients don't get.
ME: Well then, what happened was I went in for the consultation, ok. I hadn't done any research about it, and then, she gave me this 10% off, you know, she's like "If you sign up now, but only at this consultation, you'll get %10 off." So I was like, you know, what am I supposed to do because I haven't looked up any
other places...ok I didn't say this, I was thinking this, and I should have said it out loud. And I said..ok I signed the paperwork, and then said "What if I can't do this anymore" I said what if I can't do this anymore and she did not reply in a way that was clear, she just said "what do you mean" and since
I'm kind of shy, I don't
HER: I wouldn't have known what you meant by that either, so that would have been your responsibility to..you know, if you wanted to ask her what happens if I change my mind, she would have told you that it's nonrefundable. We do not hide that in the least bit.
ME: OK. I...
HER: She clearly said that you were very excited at your consultation and you never gave her any reason to believe you were questioning...
ME: Well, I was constantly questioning it throughout the consultation. OK? When I heard that she was in marketing and that she didn't have anything to do with you know, nursing, or let me see the equipment or even know who was going to be doing the treatment to me and then when I came in a couple of days later to try and confront her about it, it was just so intimidating I just couldn't say what I had on my mind.
HER: Uh huh. But even a couple of days later, it's still nonrefundable. I mean, do you understand what I'm saying? *Name deleted* is actually an excellent *inaudible* and people are very happy with her service that she provides. And the reason she didn't show you the equipment is because we were in treatment at the time and are booked solid from 8 in the morning till 9 o clock at night. We're extremely popular. Our company has a whole *lots of inaudible stuff - a construction truck was passing by at the time* and if you're that concerned about it, you can go to our website and do research on your own, you can check out Aurora lasers, you can go to our website for information but you never told her you were that concerned. You went and applied for a credit card, and signed all your paperwork and signatures and scheduled an appointment and then waited a couple of days to contact our corporate office saying that you were questioning your decision. She did everything she should have done, and you were very excited about it until you went back later and changed your mind. And the problem is that unfortunately, we just have a no refund policy.
ME: It's a very, very horrible policy. Horrible. It is a horrible policy. I can't believe that you have this policy.
HER: Do you understand how common this is in the medical industry?
ME (Extremely adamant): NO! Everybody I called, nobody had a policy like this. The clinics across the way from yours? They don't have that policy. They have like a week before you can still cancel and they charge you $200 for cancellation fees. And they're an uh uh, plastic surgeon's office. They have to hire um, you know, all this help and reserve equipment and all of this stuff and even they allow you to cancel a week before with an uh, monetary penalty.
HER: That is not even a remote industry near ours and....
ME: I know, and yours only requires...
BOTH: *bickering, both talking at once no idea what we were saying*
ME: Ok. Listen. Bottom line, I filed a complaint. OK? I filed a complaint and we'll see what happens, alright? There's no point in discussing this because you're saying that there's no way I can get my money back. I'm saying that I'm determined to reverse this payment. I am determined not to let you treat me and
um...end of story.
HER: Unfortunately, it's going to be a long load for you to come back to the same decision *inaudible* and move foreward with your decision.
ME: Well then I'll just try to find someone else to transfer it to, ok? But you know, based on this experience, I don't think I'm going to be able to find anyone else that wants to deal with your company.
HER: Well. It's very hard to believe, but we are the largest company in the laser industry.
ME: Yea because you force people to do their treatment, and those people...
HER: You signed a credit card application and all that paperwork has your signatures on it and you made an appointment. You have to take some accountability for that.
ME: I do take some accountability for that. I feel extrememly ashamed that I did not speak my mind outright and upfront, ok?
HER: Well, had you have told her that you were not comfortable, she would not have forced you to sign something. We do not force any adults to put a pen to a piece of paper. You make that decision on your own. You come in on your own, get the information you are looking for, we let you know what the pricing is, and we tell you yes, it's an awsome thing to do. You make the decision to do it. And in one sentence, not hidden in any paragraph, in one sentence by itsself it clearly states that it is nonrefundable directly above where you signed. And you know. I just don't know how much clearer we could make it.
ME: You could have made it a LOT clearer.
HER: Well I'm sorry you feel that way. Had you told her you were questioning it, she would have had no problem of telling you that.
ME (Sarcastically): Mmmhmm.
HER: You were the one that decided to take advantage of the additional discount by signing that day, you could have come back the next day, yea you wouldn't have gotten the additional %10 off, but it was your decision, we do not make you do anything.
ME (ADAMANTLY): But you pressure.
HER: Okay...You get pressured when you go to the mall and they tell you to buy two get one free...
ME: And you can return it if you feel like it!
HER: Yea, if it's an exchangable item and you have a reciept. It's not the same in a medical service. We gave you the option, you chose to act on it, and that is what you have to understand. I mean, we did not do anything to force you, we did not lead you into anything, we did not misrepresent our service, or do anything that would make you feel uncomfortable with our service except for the simple fact that you've changed your mind.
ME: OK, well in your opinion, you can have whatever you want and in my opinion I can have whatever I want. In my opinion, your company is a crock and and I don't have any respect for it, so I'm just going to have to end this phone call. I have other things I need to do today and um...
HER: Well I apologize and if there's anything I can help you with, definitely give me a call.
ME: Just...find another customer that wants that service...
HER: We don't find the customer. If you have someone you want to transfer it to, then you can absolutely do that, and we'll work with you.
ME: Well then can I come to your office and talk to potential clients, then?
HER: Absolutely not. You have to find a friend or family member on your own if you want to transfer it to them. That is soliciting and that is illegal unfortunately.
ME (incredulously):If I do that... It's illegal and you're suggesting that I do that?
HER: You cannot come anywhere near our property and try to sell someone before they walk in the door to us. That is soliciting and it is illegal. If you have a friend that wants...
ME: I do NOT have any friends that want ANYTHING to do with your company.
HER: Well that is the only option for you. We do not find that person for you! I was doing that to be nice to you, and help you. We don't even have to do that but we will and i mean..well now that's an issue. I was trying to do everything I can to help you...
ME (incredulously): CANCEL THE PAYMENT!
Cancel the payment and everything! What do you...You charged it, you can cancel it! It's a stupid policy..
HER (defiantly): No it's not possible
ME (desperately): Yes it is possible!
HER (matter'o'factly): Look, we have a no refund policy. It is not my decision, I am just the messenger, and I am just telling you that you have no *inaudible* And I'm just telling you that if you go forward with your treatments you will be happy that you did.
Me (defiantly): Not with your company. Not with a company that has lied to me and done this to me.
HER: Unfortunately, you're misrepresenting the truth.
ME: You claim that you have a two year guarantee, right?
HER: It absolutely says it in writing that you have a copy of.
ME: Yes. But, I've realized that you guys overprice and that compensates for the next two years of treatment.
HER: No we don't overprice. We're the only company in the country that offers any type of guarantee because we admit from day one, that if your hair is going to grow back after your laser hair removal treatment, it could take up to a year wheras no other company offers a guarantee which means that they are then going to put you on a maintenance program at the end of the treatment. So it's in their best interest to keep you coming back, where it's in our best interest to get you done or you're being treated for free. And that's why we charge more because our lasers are considered more effective equipment so therefore more expensive, which means our operating hours are more expensive, and we are giving you a two year guarantee to come in and make sure you are absolutely hair free and have the exact results you are looking for. And we are the best, and that's exactly why we do that *inaudible* I cannot tell you what percentage of clients have gone to different places that you seem to be more comfortable with because they realized they didn't get the treatment they were looking for and now have to start all over with us. We're the only laser hair treatment
center that treats all hair color and all skin types and does it without burning people or any of the adverse reactions.
ME (in a "whatever" sort of way): OK...
HER: And I'm sorry that you changed your mind. but I just don't know what else to say.
ME: Well, I'm considering this an attempt in good faith to resolve the problem. And now I'm filing a dispute and that's that. OK? So...Goodbye and have a good weekend, alright?
HER: Ok you too.
ME: Ok, bye.