Coupon users complain spa won't book appointments

May 8, 2012 4:41:52 PM PDT
If you are searching for a great deal for mom for Mother's Day, you might consider a group buying coupon as a gift.

From spa treatments to concerts and flowers, there is something for moms at these daily deal websites. But before you buy any voucher, do your homework, or it could be a waste of your money.

Sites like Groupon and Living Social offer huge discounts on goods and services. Most deals are more than half off the retail price. But the Better Business Bureau is seeing a spike in complaints regarding businesses who are offering group buying vouchers.

A Kingwood mother of two, who we will call Mary, says she was scammed. She's so embarrassed she didn't want to be on camera, but she does want to share her story.

She said, "That is how I saw the deal, I saw it on Groupon."

Mary says she found a deal for lipo sculpting sessions at a business called Body Studio located in a mid-rise building just off Bissonnet and the Southwest Freeway.

Mary said, "I was strictly going off the Groupon promise, is what they call it, that they thoroughly check out every business and they stand behind every business."

Mary says she ventured to the company's website and purchased a deal directly from the company, because Mary says the company promised her an even better deal than Groupon.

"The total price for the body wraps and lipo sculpture services was $420," she said.

Mary redeemed five out of the 18 services she purchased, but then found it impossible to book a treatment.

"They made it so difficult to go and get an appointment," she said.

Monica Russo with the Better Business Bureau of Houston has been investigating several complaints about several spas, all under the same business owner. Some of the business names include Physique Studio, Body Bliss and Body Studio. Most of the complaints come from consumers who purchased an online group buying coupon.

"You have got a spa like in this example that has opened up, can't keep up with the demand, closes shop and has opened up under a new name," Russo said.

A quick search on the Internet and we found since June of last year there have been six group buying deals -- three sold on Groupon.com. Every single deal was marketed under a different business name, but the BBB says every business name comes back to the same owner -- Natasha Curtis of Katy.

We went to search for Curtis at her business address. She was not there, but Ashley Mahana had an explanation about consumer complaints.

"We are quite booked because we run so many Groupons, but we do all our services," Mahana said. "If you would like, I can answer your questions, but we are about to close and I have pizza here and I was on my Facebook."

We asked about those complaints from clients who had not been able to book appointments, Mahana blamed it on an online booking system change that had double booked appointments.

"It was a huge system error, huge system error," she said. "And in February, ClickBook completely shut down. All of our appointments were gone. Everything was gone."

And as far as the various business name changes...

"We are just trying to find a name, I guess," Mahana offered.

The business owner, Natasha Curtis, did return my call. She offered no comment. When I asked if she had a license to operate her business, she refused to produce one. The BBB told me they found no license registered under her name on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website.

Groupon sent a statement saying, "We're aware that some of our customers have experienced delays in scheduling appointments with the Body Studio, and we're actively working with the merchant to help ensure that everyone is able to redeem their Groupons in a manner as timely as possible."

Groupon went on to say that if anyone is not satisfied with their purchase to contact them for a refund. Some who complained to Groupon were offered a full refund or Groupon bucks. But since our Kingwood mom went directly to the website for her purchase, she was not able to get any money back


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