SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Anti-aging beauty products and services have become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States.
But it’s how those serums and creams can be sold that has one Valley senior saying she was targeted, pressured to buy, and now is thousands of dollars in debt.
Lettie, 79, says she was walking through a local mall when she was approached by a salesman from a kiosk.
She says he wanted to demonstrate a beauty cream on her.
Lettie says she only allowed it to happen because she was in a “sad place” as her daughter had just died in a car accident.
She says the salesperson tried selling her multiple products that had no prices listed.
Lettie says eventually, and while shocked by the $2,000+ price, she agreed to buy the products as a gift to herself to “perk me up a little bit.”
But the salesman said in order to learn how to use the products, and to get a free facial, she would have to return. Lettie says she was led to a sister store, Royal Bee Old Town in Scottsdale, twice.
Looking back, she says promises of free facials, instructions, and advice from beauty experts were just lures to get her back and sell her more.
“I got pressured, pressured, pressured,” she says.
Inside the store, Lettie says a salesperson pushed and pushed products on her for hours. She says she felt “manipulated” and “vulnerable.”
Lettie says she broke down crying but says the intense sales pressure didn’t stop.
“During all of it, I probably said no 50 to 60 times at least,” she says. But Lettie says saying “no” just meant the salesperson came back with a better deal or a lower payment plan.
She says after spending hours in the store, the last time she “walked out in a state of exhaustive shock.”
“There’s no way they should keep going when you say, ‘no, I don’t want it,'” Lettie says.
Overall, the 79-year-old took home bags of products. There were stem cell moisturizers, serums, and even an expensive light treatment system.
In all, this woman who lives mostly on Social Security spent more than $25,000.
“I’m upset with myself. If you knew how ashamed I am,” Lettie tells me as she cries.
You may ask, why sit there for hours? Why not just walk out?
Even Lettie has a hard time explaining it.
In a complaint she says she filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Lettie says she was “hammered with constant hard sale, flattery, and sympathy” but was also “trained to be nice.”
She says, given all of that, being alone and feeling vulnerable, she wasn’t thinking clearly.
“For me to sit there as if I were hypnotized or whatever is something I cannot understand,” Lettie said, crying again.
While Lettie says nothing similar has ever happened to her before, Dr. Amit Shah says he’s seen similar behaviors with many people.
Shah works with the Mayo Clinic specializing in geriatric medicine, among other things.
He says advance the clock, mix in recent trauma and high pressure, “with the right cognitive changes, we may all be in that same situation.”
Shah is not talking specifically about Lettie or her situation, but he says when any of us are upset, we may not be thinking clearly, and decisions become hard to make.
As the brain ages, he says, “this becomes bigger and more important as you get older.”
Lettie says most of the products she bought are still unopened, yet she says Royal Bee Old Town would not take them back and would not refund all of her money.
Instead, she says they offered her a $5,300 refund, which she refused.
We went to Royal Bee Old Town’s Scottsdale location with Lettie’s products and again, asked for a full refund.
In an earlier email, the owner of Perfect Products Inc, doing business as Royal Bee Old Town, said they do offer exchanges but not refunds.
He says their no-refund policy is explained to each customer and is in writing on every receipt.
While the owner wasn’t at the store the day we were there, I did talk to him by phone just outside the business.
I told him Lettie says she told salespeople no “at least 50 to 60 times” but it didn’t stop their pushing products.
I asked what their salespeople are instructed to do if someone says they don’t want to buy something.
The owner says salespeople can offer a better deal, and if that isn’t accepted, there could be an even different deal.
He also says that his business does not sell products to people who do not want them.
I asked if he would offer Lettie a larger refund.
He told me he would consider a “pressure” refund but didn’t explain what that meant.
It would be great news for Lettie.
At 79, she’s considering sending out resumes, trying to find another job to pay off her $25,000 credit card debt.
After our conversation, the business did offer Lettie a $10,000 refund.
But through an attorney, she asked for $20,000 and the business declined.
Dr. Shah says if you have a senior in your life, let them know you are available for any big money decisions they may have.
If you’ve had a similar issue, let me know at [email protected]
READ THE STATEMENT FROM PERFECT PRODUCTS INC/ROYAL BEE:
(Lettie’s last name removed)
“Dear Mr. Ducey:
I respond here to your email dated September 22, 2021 regarding the purchases made by Lettie at Perfect Products Inc., dba Royal Bee Old Town and Forever Flawless (collectively “Perfect Products”). I ask that if you disseminate information publicly regarding Lettie’s purchases from Perfect Products, you also include the below information.
Perfect Products sells specialty cosmetic products. It alerts directly and in writing each customer before every purchase of its “no returns” policy. The products it makes are for personal care (e.g., cosmetics). For the health and safety of its customers and employees, it cannot receive back products once sold because it cannot vouch for their integrity, safety and efficacy once they enter the hands of a customer. Each product is for individual consumer use and not for resale or refund.
Perfect Products does allow consumers dissatisfied with specific purchases to receive free of charge the same or other of its products of comparable worth, provided that dissatisfaction is voiced within thirty days of purchase.
Lettie made three separate purchases from Perfect Products over the course of approximately one month. She purchased approximately 20 total products. That Lettie decided to shop at Perfect Products on three separate occasions and purchase 20 total products indicates that she perceived the value of the products she purchased and the services she received.
On April 20, 2021, she spent $2,701.25 at Forever Flawless. More than two weeks later, on May 6, 2021, she spent $10,264.75 at Royal Bee Old Town. Two weeks later, on May 19, 2021, she spent $12,966.00 at Royal Bee Old Town.
Prior to each purchase, Perfect Products employees explained to Lettie in person (as is done with every one of its customers) that Perfect Products does not accept returns. Royal Bee’s return policy is also prominently displayed at both stores. Further, when consummating each purchase Lettie signed receipts reiterating: “Return Policy: We Do Not offer refunds but will gladly exchange any product within 30 days.”
All of the receipts, which Lettie signed for products purchased at Royal Bee Old Town additionally stated: “We Do Not offer refunds but will gladly exchange any product within 30 days.”
In addition to the receipts, Lettie also signed a separate document at the time of each purchase which stated the amount of the purchase, thanked her for her purchase, and explained: “Please be aware that because of the nature and integrity of our personal care products, All Sales are final and returns are not accepted.”
Lettie was thus well apprised on multiple occasions and in multiple ways that Perfect Products does not accept returns of product. Nevertheless, more than 30 days after her final purchase, she attempted to return some, but not all, of the products.
While Perfect Products does not generally offer refunds, it attempted to resolve this issue in light of the large quantity of products purchased by Lettie, offering her a 25% refund on her last two purchases (less taxes) for a total refund of $5,375.00 while allowing her to keep all of the products. Unfortunately, Lettie rejected that offer.
Perfect Products cannot afford to refund tens of thousands of dollars worth of products purchased by a consumer well aware of the stores no return policy where, as in Lettie’s situation, Perfect Products cannot safely resell the products.
Perfect Products always ensures that its customers fully understand that if they purchase personal care products from the company, they cannot return the products for refund and that is why Perfect Products prominently displays its return policy, includes its return policy on its receipts, and requires customers to sign a separate document acknowledging the price of purchase and return policy when making a purchase.
Please let me know if you would like additional information, or have any questions.
Perfect Products, Inc.”