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