In October of 2013, I purchased six laser tattoo removal treatments as a package from Kucumber Skin Lounge at their Seattle location. I was quoted $1986.00 for the package of six treatments, and approved for financing through **** **** credit services. *****, the sales manager, sold me my package and submitted my application for financing. My first complaint, is that at this time, ***** told me that the terms of my financing were "no interest" if I paid off the balance within a year. When my paperwork arrived from **** ***** I found out that the actual terms were DEFERRED interest - at a rate of over 25% - that would be lumped into any remaining balance owed by me if I had not paid off the account within a year. Whether this was a phrasing error on *****'s part, or intentional deception is irrelevant - either way this was irresponsible, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. People responsible for selling financing MUST understand and correctly articulate the terms of financing agreements to customers.
My first three treatments were painful but tolerable, and I got through them without needing breaks. The tattoo that I am having removed occupies approximately 2/3 of my forearm and consists of black and red ink. After each of the first three treatments I experienced minimal to no blistering of the treated area - that is, at most I saw around ten very small blisters (ranging in size from approximately 1mm - 4mm in diameter). On May 5 I went in for my fourth treatment. I was following all directions and precautions in exactly the same manner as I had for the first three treatments. This time, however, as soon as the laser tech (who was also the same as previous treatments) began treating my tattoo, the pain was significantly worse. After only a minute or two, I needed a break. I told her that the pain was exponentially worse, and she asked me if I was on my period. I said no, I was not, which was correct. She checked my chart and said she had not turned up the laser settings and was unsure why the pain would be worse. When she began treating my tattoo again, the pain was still almost unbearable. I communicated this and she did not investigate the matter further. She moved along into the crease of my elbow, where there are a couple of very saturated areas of ink, and suddenly the laser made a snapping sound so loud that both myself AND the tech jerked back, startled. She was clearly as startled as I was, which made me extremely nervous. The very loud snapping sound was accompanied by a severe jolt of pain in the area, which caused me to begin to cry quite hard. I have spent upwards of four hours at a time under tattoo machines without anesthesia, I have been tattooed in sensitive areas of my body, and I have undergone oral surgery with only local anesthesia and under all of these circumstances - I have not been in enough pain to elicit tears. This pain was intense. She asked if I needed a break and I said I did. I cried openly for a few minutes and then told her she could start again but asked that she please move to a different part of the tattoo, because that area still was throbbing. The rest of the session was much more painful than usual, and I cried the entire time and needed several more small breaks to get through it. Throughout the session, the tech did not do any additional investigation of the laser machine or ask me any more questions about anything that could be different this time. I was bandaged up and sent on my way.
The next day I was horrified to unwrap my dressing in order to change it as directed and find that I had ENORMOUS blisters on my forearm. The two largest covered a square inch and two square inches, respectively, and were raised up 1/2 inch in height, filled with a translucent green fluid. The pain was much worse than it had been after previous treatments. After several days of thorough at-home care, the blisters resolved without infection or scaring, but I was so alarmed at receiving what was clearly a severe and unusual injury that I did not contact Kucumber at that time - for what I feel should be fairly obvious reasons at this point to anyone reading this statement, I did not feel that they were trustworthy sources of information regarding the causes or consequences of this incident. I have pictures of the blistering which I will attach to this complaint if able, or am able to provide via e-mail upon request.
At the beginning of the fourth treatment I also pointed out to the tech that the red ink had not faded at all, as it had not been treated any differently from the black ink, which I knew was not the standard practice of the industry. She got very defensive and insisted that the red had lightened. I pointed out that the black ink around the red areas had lightened, which had reduced the contrast and made the red ink appear lighter, and that when compared to a small area of the tattoo which I had decided to not have treated were exactly the same intensity. She remained defensive and brushed this off.
Over the past week I have seen two different laser technicians at two different clinics for consultations, because I have decided that I do not trust Kucumber's competence to finish removing my tattoo. Both have told me - upon being shown pictures of my blisters - that what happened to me is not at all a normal reaction and is much more severe than anything that they have personally witnessed. One laser tech whom I have consulted with and decided to hire to finish my tattoo removal is a medical assistant in addition to an esthetician. She has over 15 years experience in the field and is a certified laser safety officer who trains other technicians. Her opinion was that the extreme blistering could be due to many factors, from a dirty lens on the laser to improper calibration to the laser tech holding the laser a different distance from my arm - but that all of those factors were within the control of the tech, and not in my control. She also pointed out, with no prompting or information from me, that the top half of m tattoo has lightened much more than the bottom half, and in her many years of experience and training of laser techs this is typically a sign that the treatment has been rushed by the tech towards the end of the session. I found this an uncanny assessment, because the lighter portion of the tattoo is the half that the laser tech at Kucumber ALWAYS treats first, and the darker half is the half that she ALWAYS treats last, and I had NOT told this tech with whom I was consulting this information. She explained that the tech will sometimes rush towards the end, either because they are impatient, in a hurry, or simply begin to feel nervous or guilty because the customer is in pain. She also said that this can happen if the laser tech does not take breaks during the session to clean the lens of the laser, which becomes dirty with vaporized particulates during the course of a treatment session. The laser tech at Kucumber never took the time to wipe the lens during the treatment, to my knowledge. Finally, she explained that red ink and black ink require opposite spectrums of laser settings to remove, and that anyone trained properly should know that making a single pass over a red and black tattoo with a laser set for black ink will not remove the red ink.
I am confident that I have presented significant evidence that I have received unacceptably inferior service by Kucumber Skin Lounge, and I expect that I will be refunded for the two remaining treatment sessions in the package of six total sessions that I purchased - these two sessions total $662.00 ($1986.00 / 6 sessions = $331.00/session). I also expect to be refunded for the session that left me with severe burns, which would be an additional $331.00, bringing the total refund amount to $993.00. No less than $993.00 refunded to me will be considered acceptable. The refund is to be issued directly into my checking account OR to my debit card: I WILL NOT accept a refund towards my ********* financing which was used to purchase the treatment package, because I have paid that account off completely and closed it. I also WILL NOT accept this refund as a credit for other services at Kucumber, because I do not feel safe or comfortable receiving any additional services from this business.
On the behalf of Kucumber Skin Lounge we apologize for the concerning experience described in your complaint. It is never our intention to mislead or make any customer feel as if you cannot trust your providers or any staff member. We take pride in the training that our providers deliver which is required not only by the state but as a company we put them through additional training to meet our standards. Our only focus is to deliver successful results with realistic expectations.
On the manager's behalf she does believe that there might of been some misunderstanding if you left with any misinformed information of the program. We do offer a deferred 12 month interest free program. Every customer signs their application and charge slips prior to completing the transaction that discloses details of the financial program to avoid any confusion.
Tattoo removal is one of the most discomforting treatments that we offer. We disclose all information on our pre and post treatment forms. We are very upfront with risks and complications that occur with tattoo removal. We try our best to make every customer comfortable with this treatment with the options of icing, numbing cream and numbing injections. Blisters can occur, all though we try to avoid it, it is common. There are many variations of lasers that can safely remove tattoo's. All variations have different set protocols. Each patient is treated specifically to their needs. As we appreciate all advice or speculation it is premature for any medical provider to assume such speculation if they are not trained or certified on this equipment. We operate the Spectra Q-Switch YAG. It is one of the most efficient lasers on the market that can effectively and safely treat multi color tattoos. This laser offers many wave lengths for specific colors however to treat each patient safely it is per protocol that we follow settings that are safe and set before moving to various wavelengths.
We are available everyday to educate our customers when they have questions or concerns. We understand your concern and why you chose not to call us however if you did we believe this would of avoided all confusion or at least help with any concern.
Our medical providers range from medical esthetician's, registered nurses and physicians. All of our medical staff comes with extensive medical spa backgrounds.
We hope that this can clear some confusion on our part. We apologize again and hope that all of our customers see that our intentions are to hear and be available for each of them. We are a local company and take pride on being a well respected medical spa. We will be in contact to discuss your desired resolution.
Complaint has been resolved satisfactorily & requested refund has been received.