Negative Review Impacts Unhappy Customer's Effort to Get a Refund

When she visits Miami, Jennifer Leung enjoys spending time on Lincoln Road – savoring its fun vibe, the food, the people and of course the shopping. And it was during one of those visits, last November, that she ended up inside a boutique beauty store.

“I got recruited off the street from young ladies giving out free samples of lotion,” she said.

She made two separate transactions – the first for $321.

“And before I left, they tried to sell me some more,” she said.

She bought more items and signed a second receipt for $535, thinking the initial purchase would be credited, she said.

“After I signed the second receipt with that understanding, then it’s ‘no refunds, just exchanges’ and ‘you need to contact our corporate store,’” she said.

She said she wasn’t aware of the no refund policy, even though it’s written on the receipt. Jennifer was upset about what she considered a misunderstanding and returned to the store the following day. She left the unopened products on the counter, she said, and also filled out a customer claim form requesting a refund. The company initially offered to give her a partial refund of $300, she said.

“But I really didn’t like how they handled it and I was at the point where I just wanted nothing to do with them, [I] wanted the full refund – period,” she said.

Jennifer filed complaints with different agencies and posted about her experience online. Months later, the company emailed her saying they would like to issue a full refund but first, she had to sign a settlement and send “proof” that she had removed “all the complaints”.

“I’m like what does that have to do with anything at all?” she said. “This was my honest experience.”

In an email, the company told us Jennifer’s “…original request for refund was rightfully turned down” since their refund policy is clearly started on the receipts she signed. But the company said they were still willing to issue a full refund, if she signed a settlement agreement. They did not address our questions about the request to remove the complaints, but FIU marketing professor Anthony Miyazaki told NBC 6 it isn’t unusual for companies to do this.

“Because online reputation matters so much, I think companies are becoming more aggressive in trying to protect their online reputation,” Miyazaki said.

Jennifer, meanwhile, told us she decided to sign the agreement, so she can get back all of her money and move on.

“It has been stressful dealing with it,” she said.

We went online and searched for the review Jennifer wrote about the company, but couldn’t find it.

Even though a company can ask you to remove a negative review, there is a new law that went into effect in 2016 that prevents them from punishing customers who post one. It’s call the Consumer Review Fairness Act.  

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