Customers want refunds after tanning salons close

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 22:01:07-04

Customers of a Valley tanning salon chain are looking for refunds after the abrupt closing of two locations in June.  

Ashley Dohanyos, of Gilbert, says she signed up for monthly automatic debits of $23.

The first few months of payments went as planned, but in May she says something went wrong.

"I looked at my bank account and it was $127!" she said. "I'm thinking its just a simple mistake and error, they'll correct it."

Ashley got in touch with the company, Fahrenheit Tanning in Queen Creek.  She showed us emails that say the overcharge would be refunded in five to seven business days.

"A week went by and I still didn't have my money," she said.

So she tried again, this time she says she got a response from the owner.

"The next day I had a refund.  But it was only of $52.  It wasn't the full amount," Ashley said.  "So I get back on the phone. I get back on the email."

Eventually she says she showed up at the store to ask an employee for a receipt, so that she could dispute the charge with her bank.

"She said she couldn't give me a receipt because she didn't have a printer," Ashley explained. "Well ok can you email me a receipt? They don't have the internet--how does a business not have the internet or a printer?"

At that point Ashley said she was ready to let it go. Until it happened again the next month.

"They withdrew $75 this time, instead of $23," she said. "So I get back on Facebook Messenger. Blocked."

She said once she could no longer find the business website, she started digging.

"I get on Yelp and I see reviews the other people saying that Damon's other location is closed," she said.

She was worried.

"If one stores closed this store is not far behind."

Turns out, Ashley was right.

Customer Chad wrote us saying the Ahwatukee location "closed without warning to all of its customers" and "have also been charging the credit cards of individuals that had agreements with them for plans."  Chad said he and his girlfriend had their accounts charged for July and that the owner has not been "responsive."

Fahrenheit Tanning owner Damon Buford did respond to us, after we contacted him through an email address for another business he runs. He tells me both tanning salon locations in Queen Creek and Ahwatukee are closed for good because business wasn't doing well enough to stay open. In a statement he says in part:

"The store closings were both neither planned nor expected and happened quickly towards the end of June. We understand that some customers were charged for their prepaid membership for the month of July and those customers will be refunded. There were around 100 total customers that were charged for the month of July whom will be refunded."

No timeline was given for those refunds.

As for Ashley, she gave no reason for the extra charges to her account.  But she said after we got in touch we him, she received a partial refund.

The process may not be as easy for customers who've already closed her card to prevent more debits.

"I just want people to check their bank accounts and see if its happen to them also," Ashley said.

There is no guarantee a business will be around that's why auto-pay and upfront payments aren't a good idea even if you get a better deal.

But if you do decide to do it, it's safer not to allow direct access to your bank account.  Use a credit card instead, as they tend to provide better protections for your money.

Need my help?

Call the Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers at 1-855-323-1515. You can also send me an email or a video email where you attach a video explaining the problem.

And you can reach me on Twitter  or "like" the Let Joe Know Facebook  and tell me about it there.