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American Laser Centers / Scam and fraud!

1 1111 Elm St. Suite 25A West Springfield, MA 01089West Springfield, MD, United States Review updated:

I was so happy when I received a phone call from American Laser Centers stating that I had won $300 worth of laser hair removal. I went in the next day to “just to talk” with someone about my winnings and this conniving woman told me that if I didn't purchase one of their packages right there and then, that the offer was going to be null and void. I felt cornered and unsure of this major financial commitment seeing how I was still in school, so I wanted to go home to talk it over with my mother. She assured me that the procedure was quick, painless, and will be worth the investment for never having to shave again. I told her that even with the $300 I "won" I could never afford the total she showed me. As a favor, she told me that she would give me an additional discount to knock the price down to $1000 and she would sign me up for the Customer Care Credit Card so I wouldn't have to pay it all up front. I found out that anyone who fills out there name, address, and phone number will “win” which I was never told. Although, I was told that there was a doctor that oversees the office. Later, I found out that he comes a few times a year to keep up appearances, but really the company pays them for their status to make it look more legitimate. Unfortunately I found all this out later and I did sign the papers but if I would have known what was to come, I would have started running far away from there.

I started going to treatments and I could tell right away that the staff had no idea what they were doing. It seemed as though staff members were coming and going quite regularly, while the conniving woman I mentioned was always coming and going from Dunkin Donuts. Whenever I was in the office, I was usually waiting anywhere from ten to forty minutes for my treatment. I had to sit in the waiting room on more than one occasion listening to her personal and unprofessional phone calls. When the phone calls were professional she would make it sound like it was "so busy" in the office when it wasn't. Numerous times, I would come in for an appointment and they would tell me that they only had time to treat one of my areas because of booking and time issues. One time, I waited in the waiting room for so long that she offered me three Micro-derm Abrasion treatments because I wanted to leave. Nice gesture I guess, but I just wanted what I paid for. The next time I went in for my appointment, this one staff member was taking too long on a patient so the manager started to reprimand her in front of me to the point where this staff member (Jodi) began to cry. I was surprised by their unprofessionalism, but in my opinion these were minor problems. In the beginning, my actual treatments were pretty "average". The process took anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and the laser didn't hurt. As I was approaching my 4th and 5th treatment and I was still not noticing any hair loss, they told me that they were going to do "double passes" with the laser (meaning that they would go over the treated area twice with the laser). When that didn't work and I still wasn't really seeing much hair loss, I was told that I was going to have a “double pass” with the stronger laser. A staff member named Luna treated me that day and she was very rude and also unprofessional. She was in a hurry and basically told me that she need to turn the laser up to a higher temperature because I wasn't seeing results. The laser felt hot on my skin but she told me that I just had to deal with it if I wanted to have all the hair gone. But finally she turn down the setting and she finished my treatment at a lower temperature.

Yesterday on January 18th, 2008, I want to my appointment unaware of what was to come. Another new and seemingly friendly staff member greeted me and began my treatment. Right away, the laser was hot! Actually, I even jumped and experienced muscle spasms from the laser hurting me from being so hot. I asked her to turn down the setting and she said that that was the setting from my last appointment. I told her that it was too hot and in all my other treatments except for the last, it never was that hot. She began to tell me how well "trained" she was and all the hours of experience she had doing this. I told her my experience from my last treatment and how it was too hot and she had to turn it down and that I wanted her to do the same. She told me that that was the reason why I wasn't seeing hair loss, because it wasn't hot enough. When she got to my stomach, I pleaded with her to really turn it down because it hurt so bad. She told me that my skin wasn't even turning red and she had plenty of gel to cool the skin. Once she started to do the “double pass” on that same part, I demanded for her to turn it down. I told her how much it was hurting and she told me that it was because she was going over my hip bone (which wasn't even part of my treatment). She even suggested that the reason why I was being so sensitive was because, "Sometimes around ones cycle, your skin gets more sensitive." Well that wasn't true in my case. When she started to do my back, I had to tell her again that I was in pain. She told me to, "try not to think about it!" That is pretty hard to do when I was getting burned. It may be because of the protective glasses she was wearing, but she should have seen that my skin was red! Perhaps, because she did notice what she was doing to me, she did turn the setting down. While she finished up, I told her how sore the area was and how none of my other treatments were like that. I couldn't wait to get out of there. I needed to go home to put ice on my skin. As I was driving home, it hurt to press my back against the drivers seat. As I was looking as these red marks, I realized that the whole time I was sitting there getting burned. I felt so violated! I waited until my mother got home so that she could look at my back and sure enough, there were burn marks in that area too that were in the shape of the laser device. My mother took pictures so that I could see and I was so upset. I called and left a message and I am still waiting for someone to call me back. I also called the main corporate number and of course, there was no answer so I had to leave a message. I will never set foot into another American Laser Centers office. I am certainly too afraid to finish my treatments and since I still have no hair loss, I would like my money back. I understand that I signed a paper saying that they don't give refunds but under these circumstances, I had no idea that I had to be burned to get the hair loss. That was not in the contract. I have pictures of the MULTIPLE burns, if anyone would like to see them. I do not want to have to sue and I am not asking for any pain and suffering compensation. I would just like my money back. I don't think that it too much to ask, especially when I will having scarring from this and who knows what other possible internal injuries (God forbid). I am a school teacher who just wanted to feel better about herself. I would have never even had this procedure done if I didn't "win" $300. I want to get my story heard so that this doesn't happen to anyone else.

Jo
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Comments

  • Al
      4th of Mar, 2008
    0 Votes

    Hello Johanna,

    I represent American Laser Centers and we apologize for the delayed response to your request for assistance. American Laser Centers has recently changed ownership and we would like to ask you to please contact our newly expanded customer service department regarding your issue at (877) 252-2010. If you’d like us to contact you instead, please provide your contact information to my email below and we will contact you at a time and day of your convenience.

    American Laser Centers’ customer service center will be happy to personally help you with your needs and will provide a swift response to your concern.

    Thank you,

    Allen
    customerservice@alcpartner.com
    www.americanlaser.com

  • Ca
      2nd of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    American Laser Center may have been sold, but it is still doing business the same way...my experience here in Austin, Texas almost exactly mirrors that of Johanna. My husband and I "won" prizes, were sold a large package (and then upsold in the final seconds of the deal by warning us that a change in credit terms was imminent), suffered through mildly unpleasant sessions that didn't do much, and then began to be tortured by a "stronger, better" laser. Being spoken to as if I were a child was just icing..."but it's not even set that high!" in response to a muffled scream. I am seriously considering consulting my husband's attorney to see if there are precendents in dealing with this kind of consumer treatment.

  • Ju
      28th of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    Johanna, I would like to start off by thanking you for posting this. I know your experience happened a little over a year ago, but I recently encountered the same treatment at an American Laser Center in Michigan.
    My sister and I visited an American Laser Center a year ago for a consultation for our upper lips. The main reason we went in was because our aunt was already having her treatments done there and would receive a discount if she referred friends/family there. They have good tactics for making you sign up for care credit and more treatments than you had initially planned on getting done. We ended up paying around $700 each to have our upper lips, lower legs, and under arms done. We were also told by the manager not to tell our aunt what a good deal we were getting because she was paying a lot more than us! Right from the start, we should have realized that this business was unprofessional.

    I went in for my 6th session in which I am getting my upper lip, under arms, and lower legs done. I was told that the usual laser used during my past treatments was out for repair and the technician would be using the "pain free" laser which was much slower. My upper lip and under arm were fine in terms of pain. When the technician began doing the back of my legs, I was in tremendous pain. I asked her if it was normal for my legs to feel like they were burning because of the heat and she questioned what I meant by burning while continuing her work. She went on break and another technician finished the front of my legs. I received burn marks that were the shape of the laser over the back of my legs and a few on the front. I left the office and as I drove home I was in tremendous pain. My legs were on fire!! I noticed the red marks on my legs when I got home and continued to use the lotion they give us for the next 2-3 days. I called the American Laser Center and explained what happened and was told by the technician not to worry, the weather is bad this week anyways. I realized that these were 2nd and 3rd degree marks so I was concerned about my legs scarring and went to see a dermatologist. My dermatologist confirmed that these were burn marks and told me that I needed 4-6 weeks for the majority of my skin to return back to normal and I may have permanent scars on a few of the burns. 4 weeks after the date of my treatment, my legs are still in the healing process. Summer is only 3 months long in Michigan and I lost a month and a half of having fun outdoors because of my insecurities due to not being able to shave my legs (because I did not want to infect the area or tear off the scab) and marks encompassing the entire surface. I will never go back for another treatment at the American Laser Center because I am honestly scared of damaging my skin any further. Even though it was in the consent form that there is a possibility of being burnt, I did not sign up to be burn all over my legs on my 6th treatment. What will happen next?! It is honestly not worth it to me especially since I have seen less than satisfactory results up to this point. I have photos if anyone would like to see the burns on my legs.

    My main reason for posting this is because I want people to think about where they will be getting this cosmetic procedure done. I thought American Laser was a professional company and not just a woman practicing in her basement and therefore the likelihood of injuries would be very slim to none. I was wrong. I do not even care to get my money back I just want people to be aware of laser hair removal by untrained professionals. If I could take it back, I would definitely have ensured that a dermatologist was on board at the clinic I was planning on getting this treatment done.

  • Ta
      6th of Mar, 2010
    0 Votes

    My complaint is similar, but not regarding burns. I have a high pain tolerance and have not had red skin for longer than a day. Three years ago, I paid over $3, 500 at the ALC in Roseville, CA, to have the hair completely removed from three areas: lower back, aureolas (the areas around the nipples), around my belly button and my upper lip. I have white skin and dark brown hair (thick in most of the areas except for upper lip). I was told from day one and repeatedly throughout my treatments, both from the manager and nurses, that I had the "perfect" skin/hair combination for this type of procedure.

    After 4 treatments, I saw a noticeable reduction in the hair around my belly button and some reduction on my aureolas, but noting for my upper lip and lower back. I mentioned that to a nurse and she increased my laser to "the highest possible setting". I didn't have red skin, burns, muscle spasms or any pain I couldn't handle (mostly, it just felt like a rubber band being snapped against my skin). She told me that this type of hair loss plateau tended to happen and increasing the laser was not unusual.

    After the 6 months, I started my "2 year guarantee" period with free treatments. Again, after a few more treatments, I complained that I wasn't seeing any more hair loss in most areas and not even noticeable loss of any kind on my upper lip and lower back. The nurses kept insisting that I was on the highest setting until one nurse finally noticed that they had me dialed in under the wrong skin color (I am ethnically half-caucasian and half-latin, but my skin is white, not brown). She changed the skin color setting and increased the laser to the top of the new threshold. I have continued to attend for treatments throughout my 2 year "guarantee" period without any further hair loss or noticeable results of any kind on my lower back and upper lip.

    This week, I spoke with a woman at the center that explained to me that corporate had changed their policy for people in my situation. She said that the centers would previously continue treating patients who had reached the end of their 2 year period without total hair loss without charging them for sessions. However, this recent change in policy meant that people in our situation would be offered a reduced rate pay-per-service system that consisted of paying $50.00 per 30 minutes of treatment. I said I was very upset that I had not seen noticeable (and I mean to the naked eye) hair loss in most areas, but she said that they "had to pay the nurses" and were informing seasoned patients of this new policy. She specifically said that the nurses where "having to call people who have been in treatments for 4 or 5 years". I told her I was shocked to hear that ANY patients needed treatments for that long, especially because all of the literature provided and even the website as recently as a week ago stated that this treatment absolutely worked. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. She informed me that they had new manager training to explain this long-term possibility better to new patients, although that does me no good. She also said that facial hair is the hardest to get rid of and can take upwards of 5 years, something that should have been explained to me in the beginning.

    The website currently states "Normally six laser hair removal treatments are recommended to get the optimum results." with the footnote that "Depending on hair and skin color, some persons may require additional sessions." My biggest complaint is that this service was misrepresented over and over again. If I have the "ideal" skin/hair combination, than I should've seen the "optimum results" (being total hair loss) in my 6 treatments. Before going to laser treatments, I tried shaving, waxing, depilatories and bleaching. I tend to cut myself shaving and hate having to buy and throw out blades. Waxing was expensive and short term, but effective. Depilatories burned, bubbled and scarred my skin. Bleaching also lightened my skin. So, after all of that, I thought laser would be the answer. However, I now think I wasted $3, 500+ (including gas) and tens of hours of time on a service that isn't effective. For $90, I could have all of the areas I wanted waxed, plus my entire legs, butt and brazilian areas. Had I been waxed every 2 months for the last 3 years instead of going in for laser treatments, it would've cost me $1, 620- a savings of $1, 880. I've permanently lost hair in many of the areas where I've had regular wax treatments and believe that this would be a cheaper and more permanent option in the future.

  • Ca
      2nd of Nov, 2010
    0 Votes

    thanks for all the great info...I'm sorry that you all had such awful experiences. You have convinced me NOT to go to American Laser. Maria/ Boston

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