Customer complaints about the refund procedures at a popular South Florida cosmetic surgery center have prompted a state investigation.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Florida Attorney General's Office is now investigating Vanity Cosmetics of Miami. The company had been the subject of an NBC 6 investigation last May.
Approximately 50 complaints have been filed in the past year against Vanity Cosmetics. Customers complained they haven't been able to get refunds after procedures were canceled, even when the doctor's office canceled it.
During an investigation last May, the company told NBC 6 it serves about 1,000 patients a week. Its procedures include everything from liposuction to tummy tucks.
Connie Cooper shared her experience with the company. She said she paid $8,000 up front for her surgery but when her doctor canceled the procedure, she says she wasn't able to get her money refunded.
"This was something I promised myself it was a treat," Cooper said. "I squirrelled the money away and saved for it and saved for it and to have it just taken away from me, it makes me angry."
Since this interview, Cooper settled with the company for an undisclosed amount.
Ten additional complaints have been filed with the state since May.
The Attorney General's Office is investigating the complaints it has received. Its involvement could lead to civil action or efforts to get customers back money they feel they are owed.
Vanity Cosmetics and its attorneys did not respond to multiple attempts to reach them by phone and email.
Here is the full statement the company gave us in May:
"It is a common practice in the Plastic Surgery community to have cancellation policies. The reason for these cancellation policies is that prior to surgery, services like consultations, evaluations, and lab work amongst other services need to be provided to the patient. Vanity Cosmetic Surgery has a Cancellation Policy of $1,500 which is minimal compared to other Plastic Surgery Clinics’ Cancellation Policies. Every Vanity patient is aware of Vanity’s Cancellation Policy which is explained to and given to each patient for their review and signature. Ms. Cooper came to Vanity in order to have a cosmetic surgery procedure. Like every Vanity patient, Ms. Cooper signed the clinic’s Cancellation Policy. During Ms. Cooper’s evaluation it was determined that Ms. Cooper had a medical condition which would not allow for an immediate surgery. Therefore, Ms. Cooper’s surgery was scheduled three months in advance. One month prior to Ms. Cooper’s surgery, it was determined that Ms. Cooper still had the medical condition which would not allow the surgery to happen. Ms. Cooper’s surgery would have had to be re-scheduled regardless of the surgeon’s availability for surgery. There was no basis for Ms. Cooper’s cancellation of her surgery yet she cancelled aware of the Cancellation Policy. Ms. Cooper is yet to submit to Vanity a written request for refund, it is Vanity’s policy to have all of the refund requests in writing to avoid any Fraud. Vanity is the largest Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Florida and sees over 1000 weekly. Similar Cosmetic Surgery Clinics in Florida see about 200-300 patients per week. Due to Vanity’s high volume of patients Vanity has had complaints similar to Ms. Cooper’s. However, up to today the Court has never ruled against us due to the validity of our Cancellation Policy."
GALLARDO LAW OFFICE
General Counsel for Vanity Cosmetic Surgery