State investigating 'Forever Young' medical spa

State investigating 'Forever Young' medical spa »Play Video

BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Oregon attorney general’s office has launched a formal investigation against a Beaverton-area laser spa.

Both the attorney general and the Better Business Bureau have received dozens of complaints that Forever Young laser medical spa mishandles payments and mistreats customers.

We started looking at Forever Young after a patient, Adriene Smith, turned to us for help.

Smith calls herself a farm girl and after more than sixty summers in the sun she looked into getting treatment at Forever Young. The company advertises its services both online and on television.

“She said ‘oh, it’ll be so wonderful. Your pores will be smooth and your skin will get tight and it’ll be wonderful,’” Smith recalled.

She bought a treatment package for $1,500 and paid up front with a check for the full amount. But when Smith showed up for her first session at the Tanasbourne location, the spa said it couldn’t treat her because she has a skin condition called vitiligo.

The spa told her they would take care of getting her money back. That was in May.

Until she called us, Smith said she had been trying to get her $1,500 back with no success. She said she called around 45 times to inquire about her refund.

In January, Smith filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. When she still didn’t get her money, she called the KATU Problem Solvers.

“I can’t let things go on that are not right,” she said.

KATU found 35 complaints filed with the state attorney general against Forever Young since 2009, a year after Forever Young first registered as a business in Oregon.

Forever Young also has a “D” rating with the BBB with 50 complaints on file. Four of those are complaints the BBB considers “serious.” The company has actually improved since they were given an “F” rating in February.

A chart from the BBB shows Forever Young has more complaints than any other business in the region in the same industry and of similar size.

Two of the complaints are about advertising or sales issues. Eleven are about billing or collection and 37 complaints stem from problems with the service or products. The BBB also says this past December it found a pattern of complaints regarding refund and sales practice issues.

Pressured into tanning package

“The experience I had was just horrible,” said customer Irene Shavlovskiy.

Shavlovskiy bought a tanning package at the spa’s Beaverton location but said she felt pressured to buy and canceled later the same day.

She said she had trouble getting her $70 deposit back, despite making about 50 calls to the company over four months. During that time, she said Forever Young twice charged her card $40 even though she had canceled the contract.

Shavlovskiy finally got her deposit refunded when she filed a complaint with the state.

“I’m never going back,” she said.

Both the attorney general and the BBB have received other complaints, as well. Some are from people who said they couldn’t get in for appointments or from people who said the treatments didn’t work as promised.

“People who are signing up for packages, they don’t necessarily feel like they got intended results from their services or maybe they paid up front and didn’t get to schedule their services,” said Kyle Kavas with the Better Business Bureau.

Painful spider vein treatment

Mistee Thomas owns two day care centers around the Portland area. She went to Forever Young at Tanasbourne last May to remove spider veins on her legs.

“They said ‘we have this great procedure. It’s going to take a few minutes and it’s going to be great for you,’” Thomas said.

But she said the person doing the laser treatment targeted a live vein.

“She just kept hitting that until she had it dialed up all the way and just hit over and over, repeatedly hit the same area,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the technician zapped the live vein about 20 times until Thomas begged her to stop.

“I was in tears,” she said. “I said ‘no more, I can’t do this anymore.’”

Thomas told us she is still in pain months after the procedure. She also said Forever Young has never responded to her calls and emails.

“I don’t even merit a phone call back,” she said. “It’s sad. I mean, they sure did charge my credit card. I didn’t even get a refund. Oh no, I still paid for the procedure that I’m going to pay for for the rest of my life.”

We took our findings to the company’s Tanasbourne location, the same place where Smith and Thomas said they went for treatment. We asked to talk about the complaints, but someone who said he was a manager asked us to leave. Company manager Jennifer Zemp also declined to answer our questions.

KATU asked several more times for Forever Young to respond on camera, but they denied our requests. The company also issued a series of threats against KATU if we brought you this story.

The company did eventually put out a lengthy statement on their website saying, in part, that the spa has more than 50,000 happy customers and the number of complaints amount to less than one percent of their client base.

The company also claimed they “made things right” with all of the complaining parties. Both the attorney general’s office and the BBB said the company has responded to a number of complaints.

Smith said she received a full refund the day after KATU visited the Forever Young offices.

The attorney general’s office said they receive more than 50,000 total complaints each year, but they only open about 115 full investigations, as they have with Forever Young.