Spa 151 refunds to be distributed after Sept. 4

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Laura Goodman received a prized Christmas present in 2007: a gift certificate to Spa 151 on the River.

But joy turned to disappointment when Goodman and her aunt showed up for appointments in January at the Cape Girardeau spa at 151 S. Spanish St. only to find the doors locked and a handwritten sign on the door stating the business was closed due to storm damage.

"Needless to say I was not pleased," Goodman said.

Since filing complaints Feb. 19 and in early June with the Missouri attorney general's office, Goodman has been waiting for a refund for the gift certificate from a $103,000 settlement for holders of the former business' gift cards and certificates.

Her wait, along with 660 others, soon will come to an end. The attorney general's office said the deadline for submitting claims is Sept. 4.

"It is our intention to issue restitution checks to consumers after that," spokesman John Fougere said. "But we are waiting for the deadline to pass first."

Spa 151's troubles began during divorce proceedings between Scott and Ashli Rowland. Scott Rowland came to the spa in late January to announce his takeover of the business from his estranged wife and changed the locks, according to previous employee accounts. He told employees not to honor gift cards, certificates or credit cards.

Employees, who received a portion of each sale as part of their pay, refused and did not return to work. The spa then closed its doors, leaving hundreds of customers holding gift cards and certificates.

Another spa, eDen Spa and Boutique, which has no connection to Spa 151, is now operating at the same location. EDen does not accept Spa 151's gift certificates and cards.

Ashli Rowland promised in February to make full restitution to all gift certificate and gift card holders. However, complaints continued to pour into the attorney general's office.

However, the attorney general's office promised the checks would be paid to the appropriate customers. Scott and Ashli Rowland could not be reached for comment.

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon announced June 3 those customers would receive a refund, ending four months of investigation and negotiation. Ashli and Scott Rowland, owners of the spa, along with Brent Willis, a one-time business partner, agreed to pay up to $103,000 in restitution.

To file a complaint by the deadline, call the consumer affairs hot line at 800-392-8222 or visit the attorney general's website at www.ago.mo.gov to download a consumer complaint form.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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