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American Laser Center / Belittled and no refund

1 United States

On May 12, 2008 at 6:00 in the evening, my sister and I had appointments at the 41 W. 72nd Street location of the American Laser Centers. I need to inform you about not only the most unprofessional situation that my sister and I have experienced to date, but also the most inhumane treatment my sister has endured. You must understand that it is extremely important to understand the entire background to this situation prior to me explaining about what one of your “professional employees” has done.

I will begin with the fact that my sister and I have purchased two Laser Hair Removal Packages…including a full leg, face and Brazilian bikini process. Previously, we were referred to the American Laser Center from a friend of mine that has had positive results from her treatment. We were then referred to the Center on 41 W. 72nd Street in New York City. We live over an hour away from this site and still chose to come to this facility because of the good things we have heard about the clinic manager, Marisa Penkalski, and the results I had observed on my friend.

My sister talked me into the purchasing the package, and although I was very nervous, decided to do it. On the way down to our first appointment, I was so nervous my hands were shaking. My sister on the other hand was the one who was not nervous at all and trying to console me to tell me everything would be okay.

Upon arrival, we filled out paperwork and awaited our procedures. My sister went in first to a room with a woman (and I use the term loosely) who even from the beginning seemed quite unprofessional. My sister explained that after she entered the room, ANGELA nudged Marisa right by the door and said “You are going to do this?” Marisa jokingly responded with “No.” Angela responded with “You know how I am!” and laughed out loud as Marisa walked away. Now, this could have meant just about anything at all, however, when you are there about to undress and hear someone laughing, you can imagine the thoughts that run through your own head-just unprofessional.

ANGELA asked my sister to undress and then lie down on the table. The first thing Angela said to my sister is appalling!!! She asked her in these exact words, “How many pounds are you? “ Normally, this type of question wouldn’t be questionable in a medical setting, but when my sister answered her, she looked at her with a face and widened eyes and she said, “Oh” in a condescending manner. My sister, although unhappy with her remark, didn’t think much of it because she had thought the employee needed to know the weight possibly to set the laser machine (which we later found out is not the case at all.) The session went on with a ‘quick lasering’ to the upper lip. (At this point my sister was asked about the strength of the laser…but as you will see there was no other time that she was asked about the tolerance or intolerance of the machine).

The employee then moved to the bikini area. (Later, after I spoke with her about EVERYTHING that this woman did to her…Her procedure was nothing like what I experienced…and like I stated previously, we ordered and paid for the same exact package.) In any case, after a very quick time spent in the bikini area, the employee lifted up the paper cover and told my sister that she could put her underwear back on because she was finished and going to start the legs. She then said, “You are not getting the back done right?” My sister said, “Yes, the back is included in a Brazilian, right? That is what my package includes.” With no verbal response at all, the employee rudely placed the paper cover back over my sister and went right on to the legs.

I should also say here that my sister said that it hurt on a certain area during the bikini portion of the treatment, and the woman told her “The pain is normal on these sensitive areas.” Having the same procedure done with another employee, I know that if I ever stated something hurt, the first thing she would do is stop and say, “Oh, do you want me to lower the strength?” Why wasn’t my sister given that respect of even a choice of what she could do to prevent increased pain?

As rude as it was for this person to not respond with a verbal answer to a question that my sister had obviously asked, and that she just moved on to another area of the body the second after my sister told her that in fact was a Brazilian that she paid for, is unprofessional and rude. She could have very easily said that she was sorry for the confusion and explained the next steps of the process.

At this point, the employee stopped where she started on the upper portion of the front of the leg, looked at the clock in the room, and said the following…in these exact words, “You know, your legs are going to take over 2 hours because they are really big.” My sister was shocked by the words she chose to use and then said, “Oh, well Marisa told me that it was going to take an hour or hour and 15 minutes for the entire process. How long is my sister’s going to take?” The employee responded with, “Is your sister as big as you are.” My sister was again surprised by the response and only responded with one simple word, “What?” She said, is your sister’s legs as big as yours are?” First of all how dare her!!! To make matters worse then they already were… She continued to tell her, “The bottom of your leg is the same size as the top of mine. Usually when women come in their 2 legs are the size of one of yours.” What person in their right mind compares there own body to someone else’s in a professional setting such as this. And when a person is in such a vulnerable state to disrobe all of her clothing in front of a stranger and then get ridiculed is beyond my understanding.

My sister could then only respond with this, “My sister is smaller than me…much smaller then me, ” in a sarcastic tone. At this point, my sister informed me that her eyes began to well up with tears out of shear embarrassment. My sister explained to me that the sarcastic tone in her in conjunction with the tears that had welled up in her eyes appeared to change the demeanor of the employee at that exact moment. The employee asked, “Are you okay?” My sister responded simply with, “Yes.” The employee continued on to say, “I don’t think you are okay.” My sister was mortified at this point but thought she should just stick out the horror to complete the procedure she had paid for. “She told the woman in tears that she was “fine and to just finish.”

A few seconds later when my sister swallowed the ‘frog in her throat” she explained this to the employee, “You know many people are VERY sensitive to things such as weight and that you really made me feel uncomfortable.” The employee stated that she was sorry and didn’t know what she said. (Obviously you can now tell that that remark is more condescending then anything else because right from the start, she had asked my sister’s weight which is NEVER asked of a client for this procedure. And of course, with the other remarks leading up to this, it doesn’t make sense that this person says, “I don’t know what I said.”)

When the employee finished the top of her legs and asked my sister to turn over, my sister was so embarrassed that she started to cry and told the woman, “You know what, I can’t do this anymore.” The person turned off the machine and told her, “No just sit and relax and I’ll get you water.” My sister said, No! I want to get out of this room!” As she dressed herself with the lady still in the room, the woman continued to profess that that she didn’t know what she said. My sister could only bring herself to say through tears, “The remarks you made to me in the manner in which you said them have made me feel extremely embarrassed and uncomfortable.”

My sister being the good person she is went out to the waiting room and cried as she later told me she didn’t want my new and exciting experience to be ruined like hers was. Without knowing anything that was going, I happened to be experiencing the exact opposite of experiences my sister had. A little more than half way through, my technician, Libby, went to the room my sister was previously in to see of the other technician was finished with the other machine. (It was quicker than the one she was using with me, and she wanted to use it on me when my sister’s session was over.)

Libby came back into my room and said to me, “I just want to let you know that Angela just told me that your sister seemed to be “upset” about something and that Angela said “she didn’t know why.” (We already know that my sister explained to her why she was upset, so her remark, again, was a lie!)

Then Libby had to go out one more time and when she returned she said to me, “Listen, I don’t know your sister but it looks like she may have been crying. ( I later found out that this was approximately 15 minutes after my sister had left her room). Shocked, I just asked, “No, that can’t be. Is her face just red?” Libby did say that her face was red, so I assumed that she was mad about something that went on with the procedure itself. Never did I think that it could have been anything so horrible and embarrassing and abusive as what I was about to hear. As I finished my process, Libby professionally explained to me that I should go out and speak with my sister in private to see what happened and that she would wait with the door closed to give us privacy. She also very generously offered to try to “fix” anything that may have happened to my sister during the procedure. Little did I know the only thing she would be attempting to fix was a broken heart.

As I opened the door to the waiting room to ask my sister what happened, my sister looked up at me and began to sob so horribly that I couldn’t even make out a word she was saying. Libby then came out of the room right away to see if everything was okay. My sister was crying so terribly as she tried to explain the story to Libby and me. At that point, I asked Libby to call Marisa, the manager, because this was more than unacceptable. She did so right away still offering her sincere apologies to my sister and me.

My sister attempted to tell the story to the manager still in tears, and something interesting came out of this. Marisa had informed my sister that Angela had called her earlier to say, “I think one of my client’s was upset during the procedure. I think she might have got upset because I told her that it might take a little longer to do her legs then what was planned.” (Here we know that THAT is a LIE, because before she had told my sister and Libby that she “didn’t know what she had said” and that “she didn’t know why my sister was upset.”) So all of a sudden, she decides to call the manager and she miraculously knows ONE of the reasons that upset my sister---of course with a little sugar coating.

My sister went on to explain to Marissa the EXACT words that came out of her employees mouth as well as the rest of the horrible things Angela had said and did to her. She made it clear that the remarks relating to her legs were just the last straw to one full hour of the most embarrassing experience of her life beginning from the second she was rudely asked for her weight.

As I took the phone to speak to Marisa myself, Libby tried to console my sister as I spoke. I don’t want to disregard the fact that I had a wonderful experience and that my person made me feel more than comfortable at all times and was very skilled in her technique during the laser removal process.

However, when I compared every step of what was performed on me to whatever was done to my sister, I was even angrier. My procedure was very thorough and throughout the whole time, I was asked about intensity and how much I could tolerate or not tolerate. My sister was not asked this at all except for in the very beginning on her upper lip. Also, I compared where the laser was placed on her body compared to wear it was placed on mine, and it was NOT the same as what this person did with the laser on my sister.

Honestly, we have paid a lot of money between the two of us for these procedures and I feel that even with all of the horrible things that have just happened put aside…we should have been getting the same detailed and precise work as the next person who puts their trust into your employees to perform fair, equal, and legitimate treatment procedures.

It is imperative that this be taken seriously, as I am classifying this as verbal abuse and harassment. It breaks my heart to watch my sister cry and hear my sister say to me, “I feel like this woman just did not even want to work on me from the beginning because of my weight.” I mean really, imagine something you have dealt with all of your life-both internally and externally- day in and day out-and then it happens…your worst nightmare comes true! All of the things you are scared of and think about on a daily basis…come to surface by the words and rude unprofessional actions of an ignorant, animal of a person in your most vulnerable moment- (naked in front of a stranger.)

I can’t explain to you the pain my sister is now going through at this moment, but it was and always will be harassment in the form of verbal abuse. This is by far unacceptable and what happened on this Tuesday evening at the 42 W. 72 Street American Laser Center is not going to end there.

There is nothing that can be done to heal what my sister has endured and is still going through at this very moment. I am sure the feeling of embarrassment, horror, sadness and even shock that a person could actually say and act that way, will not ever really leave her heart or mind.

---- It has now been over 2 months and not only has my credit score been affected, but my mental state has really been affected in a horrible way. All we are asking is that a full refund is issued. This has been mentally draining and I need this to be out of my life. I can’t understand how a company could treat a human being this way and it is appalling. Below I am going to list everyone I have left messages for, e-mailed, or spoke with without any resolution to my case.

Marissa Penkalski – Manager of Upper west side laser center

Carina Rodriguez – General Manager of NYC centers

Robert ? – head of legal department at ALC

Eva ? – head of refund department at ALC

Kim Kuster – customer service rep who “promised” calls and answers

Vita – customer service rep who also “promised” calls and answers

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