Consumerwatch: Hair clinic complaints
Published Monday, February 11, 2013 12:11PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, November 24, 2013 5:13PM CST
Walter Pidskalny noticed his hair was getting a little thin on top, so last May he contacted Biothera Laser Hair Therapy on Wellington Avenue.
He paid $3,700 for 48 treatments, risk-free, or so he thought.
“They presented this (guarantee) right away and I thought ‘Well, oh, she said you have nothing to lose, if it doesn’t work you get your money back,’” he said.
But after three months, Pidskalny said he didn’t see any results. When he went to the office last month, he was surprised to see a sign saying Biothera had closed. When he tried to call the company, the phone line was disconnected.
“I got sucked in,” he said. “You can’t get blood out of stone. My money’s gone.”
Pidskalny isn’t alone. Former Biothera clients Delores Waithe and Les Schnell also paid nearly $4,000 for treatments they said didn’t work.
But when the company didn’t honour the guarantee, they successfully sued.
Now Waithe said the closure puts her settlement in jeopardy.
“I was shocked,” said Waithe. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’ How am I going to go after them for their money?”
Last fall, a Biothera laser clinic operating in Edmonton also shut its doors, leaving clients there thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Manitoba corporate documents show the Biothera franchise is owned by Douglas Slamko of Edmonton. The business opened in Winnipeg in 2010, but its current status is in default for failing to file an income tax return last year.
In 2011, the Better Business Bureau of Manitoba issued two warning letters to Biothera in Winnipeg. It asked the company to provide data in order to validate its claims.
The BBB has now issued an alert about the company on its website.
“What we advise consumers is that if you have an outstanding issue with the company, you should pursue it. Talk to a lawyer and pursue legal action,” said Amaro Silva with the Better Business Bureau.
Walter Pidskalny said he likely won’t spend any more money taking Biothera to court, but wishes he had spent a little more time researching the company beforehand.
“Now that I read the websites and see how people got ripped off in other provinces, it’s pretty disappointing. I should have known better,” he said.
The Provincial Consumers' Bureau said since Biothera closed, it has received five complaints about the company, but there is no specific consumer legislation that provides a remedy when a company goes out of business. In most cases, the consumers have to seek recourse through the courts.
CTV attempted to contact the Biothera office in Winnipeg, but both the website and phone number were out of service.
- with a report by CTV’s Karen Rocznik