FORT SALONGA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There are high-pressure sales in the beauty business.
Some customers complain they were stuck paying thousands of dollars for skincare products they thought cost much less.
But merchants say they’re adults who knew what they were doing when they signed on the dotted line, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
Anne Stanley said the salesmen were charming as they waved her into the Beyond Beauty Boutique at the Smith Haven Mall. The 85-year-old said creams in the $300 range were applied to her face.
“They were together around maybe $300, $350, the two of them together. That was the end of any money I heard,” Stanley said.
But when she got home with several products, she found a receipt in the amount of $9,798.
“I looked again, and I said it can’t be. I said what on earth?” Stanley said.
She said she didn’t notice the discrepancy in the store.
“He showed me the square where I have to sign my name. I could not see a number or anything, nothing,” Stanley said. “Right then and there I said, ‘My God, I mean I have been taken!’ No creams are that expensive.”
“Plain fraudulent, misleading, and cruel, to be honest with you. It’s taking advantage of people,” son Glenn Stanley said.
Anne and her son claim she immediately asked Discover Card to stop payment and were advised to return the products, which they tried to do the next day.
“This is not something that my mother can’t afford, and I’d like to return all this,” Glenn told a worker at the boutique in a conversation captured on cellphone video.
Web Extra: Watch The Extended Version Of Gusoff’s Report On Beyond Beauty Boutique
“By myself, I have no ability to do any kind of things like that. You guys have to come back after the weekend and speak to Leo. He will help you with everything. He’s going to make you satisfied,” the worker responded.
Anne and Glenn did come back, they shook hands with the boutique worker and left the products on the counter, they say, unopened.
“Listen, you are adult? Okay. You are adult and I appreciate everything is going to be okay,” a worker said.
“Will you give me a receipt that I left it here?” Anne said.
“It’s okay, don’t worry,” the worker said.
A year later, it’s not okay with the Stanleys. In September, Discover Card sided with the merchant.
“They said, ‘Well, this is too late now because the merchant told us you’ve been unresponsive. They’ve reached out to you to come to terms.’ We said, ‘No, they didn’t,'” Glenn said.
Anne Stanley is not the only one who claims Beyond Beauty salespeople talked one price, then charged much more.
“I didn’t know I was spending $3,200 until I got home,” Mercedes Maxwell said, adding when asked what she thought she was spending, “The $70 special.”
Maxwell got a refund, but only after she agreed to remove a scathing online review.
“I had no idea I was spending that kind of money, so I can understand how this could happen to someone else,” Maxwell said.
The Better Business Bureau gives Beyond Beauty Boutique its lowest rating.
“It’s kind of like like slamming the door in a consumer’s face. This company has received the complaints from us and have not responded,” said Claire Rosenzweig of BBB Metropolitan New York.
After several attempts in person, Gusoff reached Beyond Beauty’s owner, who declined CBS2’s for an interview but insisted he does not rip off clients and wants to satisfy the Stanleys.
He provided a picture of Anne signing a membership. He claimed an LED skincare device she paid for was activated and can’t be returned. The Stanleys said it was unopened.
Gusoff asked why she couldn’t find the return policy posted in the store. He said “final sale” was printed on the receipt, and now in the pandemic they allow returns.
But Anne Stanley said there was no final sale policy posted last year, either.
“No place there was a sign not returnable,” she said.
By law, New York stores must clearly post their refund policies. If not, consumers have 30 days to receive a refund or a credit — their choice.
The internet is filled with ripoff claims by other companies in luxury skincare, with consumers claiming they were unaware it was final sale.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s an affront to morality,” Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta said.
Trotta called the policy a disgrace.
“This poor woman got home and saw she was charged $9,700, returned it the next day and still can’t get satisfaction,” Trotta said.
Discover Card told CBS2 it is not able to discuss customer disputes.
The Better Business Bureau said buyer beware.
“Don’t sign on that dotted line, whether it’s paper or on screen before you looked at that price,” Rosenzweig said.
Suffolk police are investigating Stanley’s case.
“The investigation is ongoing and detectives are actively investigating and pursuing all leads. If anyone believes they may be a victim, they are asked to contact police to make a report,” Suffolk police said.
The bill they refuse to pay is racking up hundreds of dollars in interest charges.
Consumers who cannot resolve disputes with merchants can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Consumer Protection by calling the helpline 1-800-697-1220 M-F 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by CLICKING HERE. or Attorney General Letitia James’ office.