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by Ron Burley, AARP, March 28, 2008
Q: I signed a contract just last week for laser hair removal with Ideal res more than $5,000 for a lifetime membership. My first visit was to have been yesterday. However, this past Saturday, my business was hit by a tornado. The building may be a complete loss. The roof is gone; only insulation is left.
I was so traumatized that I had my husband call to cancel my Tuesday appointment and to ask if we could possibly get a refund. I really need the money to pay for recovery expenses. He was told that it was not refundable, that I had signed a contract, and that they weren't going to let me out of it.
Could you talk to them on my behalf? I would appreciate it. Right now, I just feel like crying. –Jan Scott, Cartersville, Ga.
A: At first glance, Jan, I wasn't sure that we should get involved in your situation. After all, you did sign a contract for service and you hadn't been mistreated. One of the basic principles of the techniques we use is that you must not have been given what you paid for, or must have been misled in some way. Neither was true in your case.
However, given the extenuating circumstances of the disaster that hit your business and your family, we thought this might be a chance for a company to demonstrate some compassionate corporate citizenship. I don't want to give away the story, but...we weren't disappointed.
Ideal res sells franchises across the country and internationally. But the clinic you visited happened to be company owned. I called the store and spoke with Deborah, who referred me to the corporate office and gave me their number.
The phone at HQ was promptly answered by Melissa. I told her of your predicament and e-mailed her the information regarding your situation. She promised to check with her supervisor to see what could be done. Honestly, I hear this quite a bit—very often with no results.
However, as you know, in less than an hour, you received a call from the regional director, Mandy Koudele, who agreed to rescind the contract and provide a full refund of your $5,000 payment.
Ideal res's quick response was both compassionate and impressive. Quite often, I interact with companies that stonewall for much less than five grand. Clearly, this is a company that realizes goodwill can be created by showing some sympathy for a customer in distress. We can only hope that Ideal res's example will inspire other companies to follow in its footsteps.
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