ASSIGNMENT 13: Woman wants answers, refund from hastily shuttered tanning salon

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A local woman said a gift certificate to an Eau Claire tanning salon was a dream birthday present from her kids.

But she said that dream soon turned into a nightmare.

Lila Cross said The Tanning Gallery closed down without warning customers.

She tried getting a hold of the owner for a refund but couldn't get anywhere.

The Eau Claire woman came to the Assignment 13 team for help.

While the Better Business Bureau said a tanning salon closing like this isn't out of the ordinary, Cross said she's upset a local business would treat its customers this way.

“They asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said I want a tanning certificate. That's something I can do on my leisure time make it look like I went on vacation,” Cross said.

Cross said her kids then chipped in to buy her a tanning package from a company called the Tanning Gallery in Eau Claire.

“And they got me a really good one. They got me three months plus 200 minutes,” Cross said.

Cross said after her birthday on May 13th, she "soaked up some sun" at the gallery about four times in two weeks.

“I was excited to use it because I hadn't tanned in a couple of years,” Cross said.

Little did she know that all that tanning excitement would leave her burned.

She went to the Clairemont Avenue business for her next tanning session and found a "for rent" sign.

“I looked in the windows and it was completely empty. I couldn't believe it,” Cross said.

The tanning beds and furniture had vanished.

When Cross called the business, she said got a message saying the line had been disconnected.

Letters were also sent right back.

Frustrated getting nowhere, Cross came to WEAU 13 News for answers.

The building's landlord told us the Tanning Gallery closed down more than two months ago but wouldn't say why.

They did tell WEAU that the owner is Curt Carey.

We left messages for him and went to his house twice but there was no answer.

“If they're selling the packages one day and closed the next. It kind of makes me wonder what their motive is,” Cross said.

The Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin said even if a business closes, that doesn't get them out of owning up to their end of a deal.

If something like this happens to you, the bureau said you should file a complaint with them as well as the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“We can do a number of things, requiring the business to pay money back to the consumer, requiring them to pay civil forfeitures. In some cases there can be criminal penalties as well,” said Division Administrator Linda Chalmers.

You could also take that business to court.

But Chalmers said Wisconsin doesn't have any requirement that a company notify gift card owners that it's closing.

While there are ways to get your money back if you paid with a credit card, Cross’s kids paid for their mom's birthday gift with cash, so the Better Business Bureau said it could be difficult to get the $150.

“I'm can't be the only one. They were busy. Get what you pay for. I paid for it. I want to get it,” Cross said.

Cross said she's filed a complaint with Wisconsin Consumer Protection.

You can call the Consumer Protection hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

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