ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The owner of a shuttered spa and salon in the Forest Hills area has agreed to repay customers who purchased holiday gift cards while the business was in foreclosure.
Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the $19,500 settlement with Crown Jewel Spa and Salon Tuesday.
Nessel said her office launched the investigation into the company and its owner, Julie Salisbury, after receiving several consumer complaints earlier this year. Customers told the AG’s office and the Better Business Bureau they had gotten gift cards exceeding a total of $1,900 that were useless after the closure.
Under state law, gift cards must be valid for at least five years and a company must refund any deposits it has taken for services it will not provide. A court filing by the AG’s office said a business closing does not suspend that obligation.
Julie Salisbury told the AG, “We refunded as many gift cards as we could and paid our vendors and employees until we ran out of money. We lost everything including equipment.”
Her response to the AG went on to say the spa offered hair products to offset gift cards, which some people accepted and others didn’t.
Julie Salisbury told Target 8 she tried to find a buyer after she started having trouble making mortgage payments, but that person “backed out last minute” and she eventually signed over the deed to the bank with the goal of paying her employees. She said she tried to pay vendors and workers and refund gift cards before she ran out of cash.
Julie Salisbury’s husband, Greg Salisbury, was also subpoenaed during the AG’s investigation because his company served as Crown Jewel’s landlord.
Ultimately the attorney general’s office determined Salisbury and the business on Spaulding Avenue SE violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act several times.
Instead of going to court with the state, the Salisburys and their companies agreed to settle the dispute and acknowledge that Crown Jewel sold gift cards while in foreclosure, even though the company likely wouldn’t be able to provide the services the gift cards covered.
As part of the settlement, Crown Jewel will reimburse gift cards that were purchased from Sept. 1, 2018 until the company’s closure, which happened right after Christmas. The attorney general says impacted customers will also receive an additional 10% of their gift card balance.
The AG says the Crown Jewel will start repaying customers within 30 days of the agreement. Consumers seeking a refund who aren’t reimbursed within 120 days are encouraged to file a complaint online with the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.