BBB Serving the South Plains of WestTexas
3333 66thStreet Lubbock, TX 79413
806.763.0459 southplains.bbb.org President@southplains.bbb.org
Massage Therapist Rubs Folks theWrong Way
6/5/13 The Better Business Bureau of the South Plains has received complaints about Serenity Day Spa (and its former incarnation, Serenity Massage and Therapeutic Center)and customers’ inability to receive pre-purchased services.
Many complainants have stated that they had purchased Groupons for services – as of June 5th, the coupon was available for sale on the site – from a menu on the spa’s listing. A 30-minute express manicure and pedicure(stated to be a $70 value) could be purchased for $29, for instance. Other services, including a Swedish massage,could be purchased at various price points, said to be as much as a third their actual value. According to the site: “Serenity Day Spa's staff pampers bodies, nurtures skin, and promotes relaxation with a variety of spa services. Licensed by the state of Texas and each independent contractors, massage therapists tailor massages to individual needs…. Along with massage, aesthetic specialists inspire a matching outer calm with facials, nailcare, and waxing.”
Complainants to the BBB have stated that they felt anything but calm when no one has been available to deliver the services, the spa has been locked tight when appointments were scheduled, or promised refunds went undelivered. Customers understand that appointments for massages must be scheduled in advance (and the Groupon offer makes it clear that cancellations will cost customers $25), but consumers have been frustrated by massage therapist Melissa Pena’s lack of consideration when she needs to skip appointments. One customer relayed the story of her husband trying no less than seven times to redeem such a coupon – scheduling appointments only to have them cancelled or to find the spa locked upon his arrival after a twenty-mile drive -- with various excuses ranging from the shortage of qualified therapists to a relative’s hospitalization being pitched. Another customer says that,after waiting at the spa’s location for 45 minutes, she and a guest were ushered into the business by a “strange man” through a back door and being ordered to wait again, only to be told after investing nearly two hours in the visit that no one was available to provide services. Customers also complain that paperwork must be completed to partake in services; one tells the story that the unnamed man in attendance suggesting that a customer and her guest find the all-important paperwork themselves. They searched unsuccessfully – except for finding a previous client’s paperwork behind a desk– then were told that they would have to reschedule the appointment. In nearly every incident of complaint, the customer has been kept waiting what are deemed unreasonable lengths of time only to learn that services are not available, and when refunds are promised,none are awarded.
According to a check of the State of Texas’ site listing licensed massage therapists, Ms.Pena’s license appears to have expired on November 30, 2012. “Serenity Massage and Therapeutic” expires at the end of July, and another person listed on the business’ registration, Mark Lynn Richards, is licensed until June 30th. The Lubbock BBB has sent a letter to the business requesting information about the status of the licenses and the relationship of Mr. Richards to the business, but received no reply. Ms. Pena appears to have operated similar spas at a couple Lubbock locations over the past couple of years. Since January 2012, the BBB has received 11 complaints, the majority of which have been closed without a response from the business. The number of complaints and the lack of response to numerous issues has earned the company a grade of “F”from the Bureau.
For those unfamiliar with offers purchased through Groupon.com, the site offers a wide variety of deep-discounted products and services from vendors through localized websites. Customers select offers and pre-pay for stated certificates that can then be redeemed at the advertising business. In this case, customers have already paid for the spa visits that they are having trouble redeeming.