Spa closes doors, leaves voucher holders in the lurch - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Spa closes doors, leaves voucher holders in the lurch

Timothy Caminos Timothy Caminos
Matthew Kim Matthew Kim

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are new sites and apps for budget-conscious consumers, like LivingSocial and Groupon.

A few months ago, customers used Living Social to purchase a 90-minute massage or facial at Ho'onani Salon and Day Spa on Kapahulu Avenue for just $47, more than half-off the regular price.

"Consumer complaints allege, for the most part, that they purchased a coupon or certificate, and when they call the business and they attempt to redeem it, the business is always booked," said Timothy Caminos, communications director for the Hawaii Better Business Bureau.

Many were able to make appointment with the spa, but were booked several months down the road. When customers did bring their voucher to the spa at 909 Kapahulu Ave., they found the windows covered up and absolutely no notice whatsoever that the spa had closed, moved, or even existed.

More than 1,200 people purchased the voucher. As to why the salon shut down, it's a bit of a mystery, even to nearby businesses.

"A lot of their customers from there came over here asking us, 'Oh, what's going on?'" said Matthew Kim, a manager at Karaoke Hut. "I keep telling them, we don't know what's going on."

One customer and his wife did get the massage therapy that they purchased through LivingSocial. But he noticed that according to LivingSocial's policy, businesses get money from vouchers almost immediately.

"As soon as the vouchers were purchased -- not necessarily redeemed, but purchased -- the business would actually get that portion, or whatever portion of the money, less what they give to LivingSocial," said customer Mike Ida.

Meanwhile, Karaoke Hut's manager noticed the spa's owner seemed busier than usual just before the business shut down.

"I seen her, right there, on the counter, just writing the reservations, she would not move out of the spot," Kim said. "Normally, she would go in the back and do other stuff. But she was just right there, like glue, for the next two weeks before that place closed down."

The BBB said it has received complaints and is investigating. Caminos said the bureau sent a request for information from Ho'onani Spa, which at last check had not filed for bankruptcy. Caminos also said it's business licenses, as well as its salon and massage therapy licenses, were still current.

The phone at the spa was disconnected, and its Web site is also closed.

LivingSocial's Web site said it offers refunds when a business closes down, and customers reported getting those refunds.

"Just because a business closes shop does not relieve them of their financial obligations to the consumers," Caminos said. He suggested that if this happens to you, you should call the BBB or the state Office of Consumer Protection.

Related: Hawaii Better Business Bureau

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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