Kim Wacek sees a great “buy one, get one free” offer on prepaid spa services at a South Florida spa operated by Rejuv Maxx. She spends over $1,100 on the deal, but before she can enjoy any of the services the company closes its doors forever. Did she just get fleeced?
I was taken for $1,125 by a local Rejuv Maxx that sells BOGO (buy one, get one free) prepaid spa services. Shortly after I made this purchase the spa went out of business. In reality, though, the company just changed its name. It has refused to honor the Buy One Get One free offer. This spa has stayed at the same location and used the same telephone number and the same Facebook account.
When I confronted them, the receptionist told me to do a chargeback on my credit card. I tried, but Capital One declined because the charge was more than four months ago. It would be great to get my money back, or at least part of it, back. If you can do that, I will donate it all to an animal charity. Can you help me? —Kim Wacek, Wilton Manors, Fla.
Kim, I’m sorry you seem to be getting the runaround from Rejuv Maxx. And then to make matters worse, your credit card company, Capital One, who should be protecting you, isn’t.
There does seem to be something strange going on here. More about that shortly.
What puzzles me is why you didn’t do your due diligence on Rejuv Maxx before you handed over $1,125.
After your troubles began, you did a little digging into Rejuv Maxx. You said that you learned that the spa had changed names multiple times and appeared to be voluntarily dissolving LLCs (limited liability companies).
“There definitely is something dodgy going on, I’m not sure how to approach it,” you wrote to our executive director, Michelle Couch-Friedman. “I think it’s a big scam — using LLCs to grab and hide money. Maybe you can give me more direction.”
Capital One refunds these Rejuv Maxx prepaid spa services
Friedman suggested that you start a paper trail and formally request that the “new” owners honor your original deal. You hadn’t done that yet, and that may be part of the reason your chargeback initially failed. In order to be successful with a chargeback, you must first show that you have attempted to resolve the problem with the merchant.
But before you could do any of that, you unexpectedly received a check in the mail from Capital One for the full refund of the Rejuv Maxx prepaid spa services.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects credit-card-using consumers under the following circumstances:
unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50;
charges that list the wrong date or amount;
charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as agreed;
failure to post payments and other credits, like returns;
failure to send bills to your current address — assuming the creditor has your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; and
charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification.
You had applied for the chargeback based on the fact that the “goods” were not delivered as agreed. Because Rejuv Maxx went out of business shortly after it sold you the prepaid spa services, your credit card company provided the refund that you were seeking.
The FCBA protect consumers when a merchant goes out of business
When we look at the facts of your case, it’s no wonder that Capital One eventually fulfilled its duty to you, its customer. You may have read Friedman’s recent article about what happened when Airberlin sold tickets for flights that would never operate.
Our advocacy team received many pleas for help after Airberlin suddenly ceased operation last October leaving would-be passengers with worthless airline tickets. Friedman contacted the Federal Trade Commission to find out if credit card companies are obligated to refund a consumer under these circumstances.
The upshot: If a consumer uses their credit card and a business goes bankrupt or otherwise shutters its doors forever, the bank must absorb the debt and refund its customer.
And so, here’s another reminder of the importance of using your credit card and not cash (or a debit card) when making significant purchases. You want to have the protection of your credit card company behind you.
But this should also serve as a cautionary tale, not just for you but for others. It often doesn’t make sense to prepay large amounts for any type of service or product.
Be wary of companies like Rejuv Maxx that offer expensive BOGO services to entice you. Should the company permanently close its doors, you can easily be left empty-handed.