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American Laser Centers / Our nightmare and how we got a partial refund!

1 Naperville, IL, United States Review updated:

Since I believe my nightmarish story has now concluded, I thought I would share how I dealt with this company. I won't bother retelling the company's history and business practices as it is widely reported elsewhere. My wife won the $300 coupon at a local health fair (I don't really have an issue with this practice btw). I was not present at her consultation but she was heavily pressured mostly by coyly demeaning her. "Oh you really must get rid of that unsightly hair, you will be soooo happy" kind of stuff. Then they told her she could come in for monthly treatments at $100/month and asked if she wanted to begin immediately. She agreed and had one treatment. As she was leaving, they asked her to sign a paper and didn't review its contents at all. It was a contract for $6000 of services and they had opened a line of credit.

Now my wife should have known better, but I really didn't think this was a big deal until I started researching this company that evening and then I panicked. I left a message at the office she visited simply saying "my wife wishes to discontinue the program. We will pay for the one treatment she received. Please call us asap." So the next day the regional manager calls my wife and says that I threatened them, threats won't work, you signed the papers, etc. Totally unprovoked anger from the regional manager, she was truly crazy. I believe her name was Jen.

So we both went into the local office and tried to discuss the situation with the local manager who had been so very friendly the night before. Jeckyll and Hyde, what do you know. She's now yelling at my wife even though my wife is crying and begging to terminate the program. She gets the regional manager on the phone and the regional manager says the same thing. "NO REFUNDS, YOU SIGNED THE PAPERS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, I WILL NOT SPEAK TO YOUR HUSBAND, YOU CANNOT THREATEN ME." I've really never experienced anything like it even at a car dealership. So I sat in silence during this and then calmly offered again to pay for the treatment she received and said I couldn't understand how this wasn't a reasonable proposition. Neither of us once threatened them to this point. Of course they then began yelling at me. So then I said I would call a lawyer and the local media and I was quite serious about this. When the local manager said she couldn't understand my problem because their clients were happy, I said she shouldn't be working for a company like this and that she should try googling "American Laser Centers" sometime. I guess you could call these threats and insults - finally.

So then the local manager called us a few hours later and offered a reduced package or a single treatment at $800+. While this is a ridiculous number of course, I didn't see any way around paying it so I agreed to it. She told me again that threats don't work. I guess they are really worried about threats. Terror level RED!

Then of course more shenanigans ensued. No one local or at HQ would return a phone call or email about the status of the refund for a month. So I started playing with their phone system, which is designed to not allow you to talk to a person. In fact, every person I talked to seemed shocked that I had reached them. I'd just started madly hitting # and * and 9 until I ended up in a company directory. I randomly picked someone in the directory, actually spoke to them, then they sent me to customer service land again where my call was dropped. This happened several times, but I just kept trying random people until someone put me in touch with someone named Eva at extension 291 who ultimately issued my refund. I have to say that she was the only one I spoke to that seemed reasonable and acted as if this was totally routine. Turned out that even after a month the local manager had not initiated the refund even though she said it would take no more than a week. I insisted on receiving a document with the refund information on it. In the refund ticket I got from the local manager had entered "The number sounds correct, I was going to enter this later today". Yeah right.

Getting this refund ticket document was another serious trick. Eva went on vacation and said I would have it faxed to me the next day. Didn't happen of course so I called her neighbors (x270, 272, 273, etc.) I spoke to Marketing people, IT people, I didn't care who. They did dumb stuff like hung up before the fax went through and tried to send the fax to my cell phone. I don't know if this was a sign of intention or incompetence.

I really had the feeling the whole way that they were a stonewalling operation of the highest level.

I only have minor complaints about GE/Care Credit. As soon as the refund was issued I called and paid the balance over the phone and requested that they close my account. A few days later I received a letter saying the account was closed, but I still had a balance and had incurred a finance charge. I called to ask why there was still a balance and they said my transaction had been 'voided' and they couldn't explain why. So I did another transaction and this one went through, but now my available credit has gone from $0 (i.e. account is closed) back up to $6500.

Anyway, I'm sorry for the rambling writing style. I'm normally much more deliberate but this is all I had time for. It goes without saying that you should avoid this company at all costs. You certainly do not want to trust any aspect of your health to a company like this. My only other advice is to fight fire with fire. I do not like conflict at all, but with a company this low you have to stoop to their level to fight.

Best of luck to those still fighting.

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  • Al
      18th of Apr, 2008
    0 Votes

    Hi we just bought a desk on ebay and it arrived but on opening and trying to put tigether the screw are all broken disintigrate ion screwing together we complained to the seller but what suprise no reply very angry customer.

  • Ev
      6th of May, 2008
    0 Votes

    Im in for the lawsuit. Ive been dealing with these people for over 2 months now and I still haven't received my refund.
    People: DO NOT GO TO ALC. Its is a guaranteed nightmare. And I have called and emailed the guy that posts here (Allen) and he has not answered me.

  • Cm
      3rd of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    In May 2008 I went to American Laser Centers in Santa Rosa, California.

    I was told about this company because my friend gave me his $300 coupon he won at a fair.

    Long story short. I too signed the contract. The next day I was feeling I was being charged too much for only 6 appointments = + $5, 000

    I talked with a friend who said you should not be paying in advanced.
    His example was: If you go to the dentist, get a haircut, dr. appt = you pay as you go-- NOT in advanced.

    I called to cancel my laser appointment. No work or services were ever done to me.

    I was then told I had to pay the 10% administration fee.
    (I was furious! = + $500)

    I told the laser people under the California law according to the “State of California Department of Consumer Affairs, The Consumer Transaction with Statutory Contract Cancellation Rights there is a three-day no fault cancellation.”

    American Laser Centers would NOT honor this Law!

    I then consulted my friend who is a business person.



    (REMEMBER: ALWAYS BE professional and business like in your letters.)

    1.) Called my CareCredit number 1-866-893-7864 CLOSED the account over the phone. WRITE DOWN YOUR CONFIRMATION NUMBER!

    2.) Called GE the actual bank for CareCredit.
    TOLD them I had no work done.

    I sent a certified letter to dispute my account. Included in the letter is my: name, account number, day I signed contract, copy of the contract, include your confirmation number from closing your CareCredit account!
    GE Money Bank
    P.O. Box 981438
    EL Paso, TX 79998-1438

    3.) Contact BBB. I contacted the BBB in my area SF, CA. I was forwarded to the office in Michigan where headquarters of these American Laser people are Located.
    Contacted BBB of Detroit & Eastern Michigan
    3055 Southfield Road, Ste. 200
    Southfield, MI 48076-7751
    I sent a certified letter. In the HARDCOPY letter to the above BBB Address with a copy of your laser contract and a letter explaining what happened to you.
    AND: GO ONLINE TO: fill out the online form AND Write the hardcopy letter.

    4.) Sent a certified Letter to:
    Care Credit, INC:
    P.O. Box 1710
    Costa Mesa, CA 92628-1710

    TOLD them I did not have any work done.
    Tell them: “Please close my account. I want to Dispute the amount. I want a refund please.” (BE NICE and business like.)
    INCLUDE your: Name, account number, name and location of Laser store, your contact numbers, copy of the contract. Anything else you can tell them.

    5.) I wrote a letter to my Attorney General. (If you live in a different state than CA—do a Google search for the Name of your state you live in and “Attorney General”

    AND: YOU can send online COMPLAINT form—

    PLUS then mail in a hard copy letter including YOUR copy of the laser contract.

    For CALIFORNIA Send letters to:
    California Department of Justice
    Office of the Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, JR.
    Public Inquiry Unit Office of the Attorney General.
    P.O. Box 944255
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

    6.) I sent a certified letter to State of California Department of Consumer Affairs.
    State of California (YOUR State should have a Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Google search it to find it!)
    Department of Consumer Affairs
    Consumer Information Center
    1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-112
    Sacramento, CA 95834

    Tell them about your unethical business contract with the American Laser Centers!

    7.) I sent a certified letter to the location of where I went to American Laser Centers. I told them to: Cancel my contract and services.

    8.) I emailed the office manager of American Laser Centers of the location that I went to. Look at your paperwork for the business card and the email address. Tell the office manager you want to cancel your treatments and services.

    9.) I emailed Customer Services at American Laser Centers: 877-252-2010

    10.)I went to Small Claims in my area for extra help. Do a Google search with the name of the county of the state that you live in and “small claims” for the location. BRING ALL YOUR PAPERWORK including your contract!

    MOST IMPORTANT: Keep copies of all your letters, your certified mail receipts, correspondents, emails…!

    BE Business like!

    Good luck! Think positive!
    Please write your letters!

    P.S. At first I did not want to write the letters. I was feeling like I was causing too many problems. That was until I was told I had to pay $500 + for no services or treatment.

    Do your BEST!

  • Sl
      4th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    I'm getting ready to go down this path with them. Wish me luck!

  • An
      10th of Jul, 2008
    0 Votes

    Really? I have heard bad things about it, but i went with my mom after both of us winning $300. She said the six treatments plus the 2 year "after treatments" would be $800. I went and they told me I was their dream patient because I have black hair and pale skin (which she said was the best type to get results. The people were really nice to me and a lot of other people were coming in and out like crazy for their treatments. I think people just need to do research before going in and signing contracts. But I'm sorry that happened, atleast you put up a good fight (6.000 down to 800 is better than nothing).

  • Bu
      9th of Jan, 2009
    0 Votes

    I was an unLUCKY winner and they hustled me into buying a 5 treatment each of microdermabrasion and IPL Foto Facial package for $1900. I don't want to go into the specifics right now but I did it to treat my Enlarged Pored on my cheeks. After 2 micro's and 2 IPL's I am starting to think that it is making my skin worse.

    They also hustled me into buying their products, so they milked me for another $200+. I showed up and after the treatment was told I must purchase their "PLL (Post Laser Lotion)" and "Sunblock". I was told these two products were MANDATORY. I also bought at their recommendation the "replenishing mask" and some "Gentle cleanse face cleanser".

    I was also burned on my nose and this mark looks like it may scar. I called them the day of and they said they would call the next day and I never heard from them. Its been 8 days and the scab is still their and the wound has not completely healed.

    I just used the mud mask tonight and after about 10 mins I went to wash it off and it would not come off my face. I scrubbed and scrubbed (irritating my pores to the greatest extent possible) and finally got it off. It was a horrible experience and I can't believe how much of an idiot I am to have went through with this and spend all this money.

    I could not find any conclusive evidence that these treatments would even work for my condition.

    I am 1/2 way into the treatments. What should I do?

    UPDATE: 3/27/08

    If "cj" was referring to me I would like it to be known that I have been to THREE of their clinics which were all three located here in Southern California.

    The clinic nurse who performed on me relayed a message claiming that I already had the weird blister on my nose (Note: it took 2 1/2 weeks to heal, only laser wounds or burns cause damage to skin tissue like that). I laughed in disgust and I told the lady speaking at the other end that I don't play games. I am known by my reputation to be as honest as they come.

    Personally, I am trying to keep my name from the public because its my right to privacy. If I am pushed to that point I will reveal my name as well as all those involved and locations, dates and so on.

    Well I decided to cancel the IPL Foto Facial and continue with the Micro. They said it was in my contract that I could not cancel. I pleaded how the laser burned my nose and how that was documented with my doctor and I have pictures. They remained firm and said they couldn't do anything other then offer me more micro's or something sufficient. I was also given a bag full of products and was told I would not be charged for any of them nor any of the procedures I have had done to date. If that's true my balance should be still around $2100. I should also have 19 Micro treatments remaining.

    I received my third micro and they day after I notice a few deep lines on my face and a purple rash on my forehead. The other two times I had this procedure these symptoms never arose. Usually day after I felt a slight burn and the PLL would calm that. This time I felt lightheaded, dehydrated, had this purple rash on my head and almost cat scratch like lines all over my face. One next to my nose and the other above my left eyebrow.

    I called and reported this with the clinic. They said just to use the PLL (post laser lotion) 3 times daily and the replenishing mask at night. I also noticed a
    local place next to where I get my haircut who does Micro. I called and set up an appointment for today and will see what they have to say.

    I will keep you posted accordingly.

    p.s. I am not the only one, just one of few who has enough courage to stand up for what's right.

    UPDATE: 1/09/09

    This is BurnedByALC. I'm not going to respond to any comments left towards me. All I have to say is I pay my bills and take care of business. For anyone who questions the legitimacy of this I feel for you and wish you the best.

    Now back to the matter at hand, ALC and how they burned me more ways than one. I was lead to believe that my refund was going through and I would receive it. I come to find out in July just 2 days before my birthday that it was denied. I did not get an explanation on why and the Clinic referred me or in other words "passed the buck" to Customer Service where I have tried on numerous occasions to contact the Supervisor.

    After almost a month I finally spoke with the Supervisor in late August and she said she doesn't check her Voicemail's and that somebody else does for her. I explained the situation and she said would get back to me "later that day or early next week". After a a few weeks I tried to contact her again leaving voicemail's in September, October and decided to take some time off to enjoy the holidays.

    Today (1/09/09) I spoke with a Customer Service rep and had them notate the account and left another Voicemail for the Supervisor.

    I have notes regarding every visit, conversation as well as audio recordings and documentation from a outside source (Reputable Plastic Surgeon).

    I have decided to move forward with a complaint with the California Medical Board and to follow with a Lawsuit. I strongly urge anyone else who is interested in doing the same to message me immediately so we can discuss this matter further. Please leave your name and best way to be contacted.


  • Pr
      24th of Jun, 2010
    0 Votes

    I had the exact same issue. FOUR hours after purchasing my very large package I called and said I didn't want the procedure because I was uncomfortable with the terrible reviews I read online after signing the papers along with having blonde hair. My husband was less than thrilled to say the least. They told me once I signed I was locked into the contract. I called Care Credit and they said only American Laser could issue the refund. Needless to say I have not used Care Credit since that day. I went ahead a month later and started treatments after several regional managers became involved and denied any type of refund. I was more than dissatisfied. I was told upon signing my contract that due to my blonde hair they would need to double-pass each visit. After my first, they said their new policy no longer allowed double-passing but my guarantee period would be enough to eliminate the hair fully. After my 6th appointment a disgruntled nurse told me their systems don't work and I'll still need to shave regularly and then proceeded to pull up her pant leg and show me her leg hair - which looked normal after having a full series of treatments! Once my guarantee period kicked in they were suddenly "booked" and in a two year period could only fit me in a couple times due to "office merging". My guarantee is now expired and they followed up with a phone call letting me know their schedule has cleared up with hiring some new staff and I can come in for my appointments at a discounted hourly rate - WOW. Really? This is legal business practice? Amazing.

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