Laser Genesis (Pores, Acne Scars, Capillaries) and Titan (Brow Lift) Did Nothing - Vancouver, WA
I was all set to start Fraxel treatments with a...
- 2 Jul 2009
I was all set to start Fraxel treatments with a reputable dermatologist in Olympia Washington when I went to a Vancouver laser skin care clinic in Washington state for a second opinion. Unfortunately, I let myself be talked out of the Fraxel by the owner of the clinic who did not offer Fraxel but offered me Titan treatments in addition to Genesis laser treatments for only a few hundred dollars more than what the Fraxel alone would have been. She was comparing the potential Genesis results to the Fraxel and also adding Titan for tightening. I now wonder if she even knew what Fraxel was at the time since this was about 5 years ago.
My problems were acne scars, large pores, broken capillaries (the dermatologist wanted to do IPL before Fraxel for this) and age-related sagging which I knew the Fraxel would not address. The clinic told me that Titan was better than Thermage which the owner said she had a lot of experience with.
Wrinlkes and fine lines were not big issues for me, but I made a point of saying that I was interested in tightening mainly for my forehead because drooping skin there was really making my brows droop.
I was scheduled to have 3 treatments of each process. Titan was painful, and I saw no tightening at all in the end. The Genesis did nothing visible, either, and the expensive skin care products I was told would be beneficial (Epionce) post-treatment actually caused my very oily, acne-prone skin to break out severely and cause more significant scars while I was paying $3200 to remove old ones. Perhaps the lasers themselves added to the acne flare-up, too, but I told the clinic that the Epionce seemed awfully emollient for my very oily skin, especially the sun screen they said I needed to use after treatments. A good hat would have probably been safer and not caused me to break out so much.
The worst part was the deceit, tho. I think that some of these businesses think that because they get you to sign a waiver that absolves them if you see no results because the waiver states they do not guarantee results, they can tell you whatever they want to at the consultation to get your business and then say "too bad, you signed a waiver" if you have problems, but I do not believe that a waiver absolves intentional misrepresentations, negligence or fraud.
As I said, I primarly wanted Titan to lift my brows. Immediately prior to the first Titan treatment at my first appointment, I reminded the owner of this and asked if the treatment could raise my brows so much that I had "that surprised look" all the time which I wanted to avoid. (I was surprised all right at how the whole process evolved.) She reassured me that Titan would provide natural results and I wouldn't look artificial afterwards, but she was clearly aware that I was of the understanding that they were going to treat my forehead that day because that was a major portion of our discussion at my initial consultation and subsequent communication prior to my signing on with them. I spoke with her at least 3, maybe 4, times before I agreed to cancel my Fraxel elsewhere in favor of Titan and Genesis.
She said her combo package offered me more treatment for less money, and that she made such deals available to her clients so as to have repeat customers which would be good for her business. BUT they never treated my forehead at all at the first session despite the fact that I paid them for it, reminded the owner of it minutes prior to the first treatment session, and had advised them this was my primary reason for wanting Titan over and over during various conversations. In the excitement -- and pain -- of the first day, I didn't realize until I got home that they never passed the Titan equipment over my forehead at all, only my lower face.
Also, Titan was painful but I tried to intentionally tolerate more pain than was comfortable so that I could get the most bang for my buck because I was spending my life savings on these facial conditions that had bothered me for years and new that I probably might never afford such treatments again, which I repeatedly told the owner, so she well knew that this was my one chance to improve my pretty significant complexion flaws from years of sun damage, acne and very oily skin with a course texture and much redness. It had to be clear to her that I was looking for more than just a "refreshed look." I was looking for serious repair.
The tech even commented while doing Titan on me that they had never before been able to set the machine so high as I was tolerating, and the owner commented at how good my results would be as a result. Maybe she believed it, I don't know, but she was wrong. But I tolerated that pain because I knew this was my one chance to improve my condition.
At the second treatment, when I reminded the very pleasant technician that they "forgot" to treat my forehead at all at the first sessin, she told me that they did not forget. She said they intentionally avoided my forehead and never did them on anyone. She told me that they intentionally avoid the forehead because they don't believe that Titan has any effect on that part of the face. Huh? That's not what the owner told me at my consultation or when she took my money or when I called her to talk about it 3 or 4 times prior to making my decision. I seriosly thought the tech must be mistaken about the forehead issue because the owner clearly knew I was paying to have that treated.
What I now fear all along is that she really knew that Titan would not ever help my forehead, in her opinion, but that she wasn't willing to tell me that because she did not want to lose my business and believed that when I finally signed a waiver stating that they did not guarntee results, she would be covered. Legally, I think that might be a crime.
The owner was in the room at the time that the tech told me that they deliberately avoided foreheads and overheard what we were saying. She came over and took over the conversation and told the tech that they would give me a "double treatment" of Titan on my forehead that day to make up for the one I didn't get the first time. I was kind of thinking that maybe the tech was wrong in what she told me by the way the owner was acting, especially since she said she was giving me a double treatment on the forehead to make up for the lack of one at the first session. I was starting to get concerned about hoensty, but these people seemed so nice and professional that I disregarded my hunch.
Later, when I realized how dissatisifed I was with the clinic's overall service (despite the staff always being very pleasant, I just question their expertise and honesty) I called the maker of the machine and talked to a technical expert who told me there was no such thing as a "double treatment." Twice the amount of passes in one day would do no good -- so I suffered the pain of that "double treatment" for nothing on my forehead. I remember the chin area and around the ears being more painful, tho.
So, in effect, I only got 2 treatments, not the 3 I paid for because the double business meant nothing according to manufacturer. But at the time I was receiving the "double treatment" I thought they knew what they were doing and believed I was getting double the benefits. The owner did the double job herself with the tech watching, and it was apparent that the tech had never been trained to do foreheads at all because she kept asking the owner how to do them while she watched.
Personally, I also was not comfortable accusing them of fraud or anything like that, but it was difficult to reconcile the conversations I had with the tech versus the owner on at least 3 -- maybe more -- occasions before I cancelled the Fraxel in favor of what she had to offer. I was clearly expressing an interest in forehead tightening and made it clear that I was giving up the other office's Fraxel package because her clinic's package included forehead tightening.
I told the Fraxel office why I was canceling with them, and they offered me a discount to stay with them and also gave me specific questions to ask the other clinic, which I did. The Titan/Genesis clinic's owner told me that it sounded like the Fraxel people were just trying to keep my business by saying their service was superior when I told her what they asked me to ask her. Instead of directly saying whether Genesis and Titan really offered similar results to Fraxel, she just made snide comments about their business practices and implied, not stated, that Genesis/Titan matched Fraxel. She clearly had to know that she was giving me the impression was that her belief was that what her office offered me was not inferior in results to what the Olympia dermatologist, who was one of the first in the state to offer Fraxel, was offering me. (Crazy thing is -- the Vancouver laser skin care clinic where I had the very unsatisfactory Genesis/Titan treatments done, now offers Fraxel themselves! Is that because it's better than Genesis?)
I should have pushed it more; but, just on the human level, us consumers sometimes are not well versed enough to detect deception or aversion when we hear i, and I gave these folks the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were up front. I'm sure I wanted to believe her because she offered more results for the same money.
So I had the double Titan treatment at my second session and went back for the third treatment session for a regular Titan treatment and my third regular Genesis treatment. In the meantime, I was still using the Epionce and my face was an oily mess with new acne and new scars. Severe.
Then I waited for results and saw none. I probably would have overlooked the deceit I suspected about the Titan forehead treatments if I felt satisfied overall in general. But when I had nothing to show but new scars after spending $3200 plus several hundred more in products that they suggested would make the laser results better, I decided to contact them. I was extremely courteous in my letter and specifically questioned the Titan forehead issue. I got no response. They did not reply to my email or call me. So I sent a second friendly letter and got a reply from the owner that said that she didn't have time to contact me the first time I wrote her. I don't believe that. She had no intention of writing me because my tone in my message was so pleasant, so I now believe she just didn't want to deal with it and hoped I'd go away and was too wimpy to pursue it because I was being so soft spoken. But I provided her ample details of my concerns and her oversights, and she chose to ignore everything. When she finally replied to my second request, she said I should come back for them to see my results and that they would give me a third Titan treatment just on my forehead.
So I contacted the Titan company again and was told that the length of time that had elapsed while I was waiting to see results, and for other serious personal reasons, was too long for another single Titan treatment to be of any use because they have to be spaced just so -- but yet the owner was offering me one. Why?
I wanted a refund of that portion of my treatments, not a useless single treatment. The Titan people also denied that their machine is ineffective on foreheads. (I talked to all companies involved in the lasers and Epionce and saw that none were too happy to talk to me when they realized my dissatisfaction with one of their operators, and they were reticent about commenting, so I posed the questions as just general inquires, as if I was just a curious consumer, so I could get the info. The Titan and Epionce personnel definitely refused things the clinic owner had told me. Especially so with Titan.)
So, in addition to apparently deceiving me about Titan forehead treatments to begin with even though I made it very clear this was my main area of interest regarding Titan which was the main reason I was investing in it(which I reminded the owner of even moments before my first laser treatment) they were now apparently trying to deceive me again by allowing me to make the 6-hour round trip to their office for another treatment that would be useless due to elapse of time. Unless they didn't know the time element themselves, but certainly they should if they are in the laser business.
So I wrote another letter this time which was still civil but less friendly than the first two (which were extremely pleasant and is perhaps why the clinic thought they could dupe me with excuses and false statements) because I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt as people. I gave them another chance to do the right thing, but I never heard from them again until I got the BBB involved. Prior to doing that, I must have tried to contact them 10 times, but they simply ignored me and my concerns. I was asking for a refund due to their inappropriateness and lack of accuracy (if not outright lack of truthfulness) which I pointed out in detail. They were simply, rudely and negligently silent despite many registered letters and emails. I never called because I could now see how deceptive they were behaving so I wanted a paper trail for proof.
Some of my correspondence asked for a refund of the Epionce and make-up products I still had, too, which they said they would do when I bought them if I was dissatisfied, but they never addressed that, either. Ignored everything. I would have been satisifed if they just found a way to give me a proportional refund of the Titan treatment pertaining to the forehead, but they offered me nothing but a treatment that by the manufacturer's own admission would be useless.
I believe in the one and only brief letter they sent me in response to my second request for attention, they alluded to the waiver which I signed that said the results were not guaranteed. I was not contesting the results, or lack thereof. I was contesting the lack of truthfulness from luring me with promised forehead treatments in the first place, then fake double treatments followed by lack of response to my concerns. It was their business practices that I was complaining about, not the lack of results, as disappointing as that was. Actually, there were results. Detrimental ones. The worst acne flare-up ever and new scars.
The owner seemed like a nice person to me, but maybe I should have recognized her enthusiasm as pushiness? I believed her. But I did think it was kind of aggressive when she followed me to the parking lot to hand me Titan literature, but that didn't make me suspect her of deceit. I just felt she was a business woman trying to build her business, but there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps her business ambitions lead her to do things on the fly that she might not have if she had thought about it better; nevertheless, I was the one who was injured (new scars), deceived and deprived of the funds it took me a long time to save. I also think the clinic was newly opened, so perhaps I also suffered from their lack of experience. But I think I should have been compensated for that -- not ignored and lied to.
The first letter I wrote was ignored. The second one was replied to with more deception to cover earlier statements. She claimed that she never knew that I had not received a Titan forehead treatment at my first session. How could that be true when she personally gave me that "dboule treatment" at the second appointment becasuse they "forgot" to give me one at the first appointment -- which the tech said was deliberate! Really shady stuff. And the rest of the many letters were again ignored. In the meantime, we had very extreme health emergencies in the household which made it clear that I probably would never again afford any skin rejuvenation treatments.
So I went to the Better Business Burean to try to mediate the return of some of my money. The skin care clinic did finally respond when the BBB got involved. But they again lied. Their response said that I was badgering them with numerous contacts so they finally had to stop responding to me. In reality, they never responded to anything other than my second letter (which was really just a friendly reminder that I was waiting for a reply to the first one)and that brief reply just said they had been too busy to answer me earlier, and that they were completely unaware that I only had 2 Titan treatments (not true because the tech and the onwer had a big discussion about it while the owner gave me my fake "double treatment") and that they would treat my forehead alone (months later which was useless according to Titan)if I would make another 6-hour round trip drive to their office.
In fact, in their reply to the BBB they accused me of trying to manufacture false claims because according to their statement, I had "suffered a reversal of fortunes," apparently alluding to our significant health crises, and I was looking for a source of revenue at their expense. I was very offended by that, but I had to laugh in amazement at their audacity.
I seriously considered suing them myself either in Small Claims to recoup some funds, but the total amount involved was enough for me to do so in a higher court as well, and I felt I could represent myself since I had some experience typing pleadings and knew a little about filing motions and such. The effort seemed worth trying to get back the over $4000 I spent in the office and maybe some damages from a higher court if I chose that instead of Small Claims. However, this would have to take place in the county where the business was located, which was that 6-hour away place, so due to the grave and on-going and time-consuming health issues in the family, I just had to let it go because we were having everything from dialysis, organ transplants, heart surgeries and a stroke (which the clinic knew when they tried to dupe me into making that long drive for a useless treatment that it was way too late for) and life was crazy enough without filing a lawsuit on the other side of the state. If it weren't for that, I would have based on their behavior which I easily would have forgiven had they tried to correct it in any way. I would have easily have forgiven human error, but this was deceit.
But after reading some of the posts on this site, I decided to share this story to warn other consumers to beware. I would recommend having laser treatments in doctors' offices only and not in a laser skin care clinics like the one I went to in Vancouver, which seemed very professional on the surface, but their behavior towards me was anything but. I don't know if the owner started out to intentionally deceive me or was just too rambunctious in trying to build her business, but they certainly did intentionally lie to me and to the BBB as we went along.
I came out the loser no matter what, but I hope that the clinic at least learned to treat future clients with more respect and honesty by me pursuing them as I did. Even if they didn't treat them with more respect just out of simple decency, perhaps I thought them to better guard their own interests at least. I never did see any tightening from Titan and no improvement from Genesis. I don't know if that is because the lasers were not appropriate for my conditions or because of the quality of the operators.
There was a vast difference in the touch of the 3 operators I was exposed to in the clinic, with the one who treated me the most having by far the lightest touch using the equipment on my face as she gently passed Titan over it. The owner, who lead me to believe that she would personally treat me in the first place, had a much firmer touch. So as this the lasers or the operators? I don't know for sure. But they also treated me for broken capillares with a separate device (part of Genesis, I believe) and at each of my 3 sessions, they always did this last. I saw very little improvement from that, either, with even the biggest, reddest capillaries still being present after the package was complete. When I realized this, I pointed out to them in my complaints that I think it was a bad idea for the owner to treat my capillaries after the Titan and Genesis were already complete each time because by then my face was severely beet red so the capillaries just blended in with all that redness so were never treated properly because they weren't visible in all that redness. Again, I suspect inexperience was a factor, but I shouldn't have to pay for the inexperience, and I should have been compensated for their other "mistakes" too.
The statue of limitations has now expired so I can no longer ask the courts for remedy now that the other health issues have settled down in our household after over 3 years, but please be aware that when they try to give you that "you signed a waiver" excuse, trying to make you think you have no recourse, it's not true. You do not waive away your right to be treated with a lack of fraudulent behavior by signing a statement that says results are not guaranteed. Even if you signed a waiver stating that "It's OK to lie to me and tell me things that aren't true or are misleading," such a document is not legal and your signature on it would mean nothing and you would still have standing to sue regardless of your consent.
If money is no object to you, then it's no great loss if you invest in a clinic and get no results. But it was my life's savings and my skin was actually worse afterwards. Live and learn ...I hope they did to. I was treated horribly. I was disappointed by the lack of good results, which I suspect had more to do with their lack of expertise with the equipment than the equipment itself, perhaps ... but it was their deception and dishonest business practices that was the problem. I still have no way of knowing how deliberate all that was, as in, did they intend to lie to me all along ... or were they just being dishonest to cover the mistakes that they didn't plan. If you read this far, and have any similar experiences, particularly in Vancouver, Washington, please post. I wonder how common this is.
They were very responsive by email and phone before I paid, their responses just weren't completely factual or honest which is extremely difficult for the consumer to recognize until the damage is done. This was several years ago. I sincerely hope they learned from this experience and do better now if they are still in business. I told them in advance that this was my life's savings and one-and-only opporutunity to have this done, and they just said whatever it took to get my business whether it was true or not, ie: Titan for the brow, "double treatment", etc. If I misjudge them, I apologize -- but they never made any comments to me other than to offer another partial treatment to make up for the paid one I never got which the manufacturer said was useless (so why did they offer it?)