A loss of about $30,000 can badly hurt a small business, and that’s what a Marquette business owner says has happened to her.
She says she’s a victim of fraud.
She has documentation to back up that claim.
But so far, no one has been willing to pursue criminal charges.
UGN’s Mike Hoey met her today.
Shelly Bingham owns the Bellisimo Salon in Marquette.
In mid-December, she paid nearly $30,000 for what’s called a SpaCapsule.
It’s a machine that provides the sensation of a water massage without the customer actually getting wet.
Bingham says it’s ideal for folks with things like fibromyalgia or joint pain and it does everything that a massage therapist does.
She says the SpaCapsule works great, and Mike says he’d have to agree.
Bingham asked him to try it out, and he thought it was extremely relaxing.
The SpaCapsule comes from Simulated Environment Concepts of Miami, Florida.
Bingham says the company didn’t give her what she paid for.
She thought she was buying a new unit.
When the SpaCapsule arrived 2 weeks ago, it had dings and scratches in the paint, some of them covered up and some not.
Furthermore, a state trooper from the Sault Ste. Marie Post pulled over the delivery driver on M-28.
Bingham provided Mike with a copy of the police report, as well as her other documentation.
The police report says the SpaCapsule was a used unit.
It also reports the driver as saying the company doesn’t even sell any new units at all, dealing exclusively in used and refurbished ones instead.
The headrest of the SpaCapsule didn’t have anything to brace it and support the user’s neck during the treatment, so Bingham had to buy one and install it herself.
It also had at least 30 hours of previous use on what, again, Bingham says she was told would be a new unit.
With the treatments taking about 10 minutes each, that’s at least 180 previous uses.
The SpaCapsule says as much itself.
Bingham says each SpaCapsule has an internal computer that monitors when it’s used and for how long.
You can get that information from the unit anytime you turn it on.
Several emails between Bingham’s attorney and the company were among the papers she gave Mike copies of today.
In one of the emails, the company tells Bingham’s lawyer the unit was new because each one is custom-made and according to their records, Bingham’s SpaCapsule is the only one they’ve ever made with a red shell and a black base.
However, ABC’s “Good Morning America” profiled the SpaCapsule back in April 2008.
The unit they had on national TV that day had a red shell and a black base.
Bingham’s attorney has contacted the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office about criminal charges.
She says she’s been told that because of budgetary constraints, the Prosecutor’s Office can’t prosecute the same volume of criminal cases as it used to.
That means they wouldn’t press charges in her case.
Bingham says that doesn’t help her at all and that the ordeal could damage her salon business unless something is done.
So she’s trying to pursue legal action in other ways, including contacting law enforcement in the Miami area as well as the Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau.
Mike also contacted Simulated Environment Concepts, the makers of the SpaCapsule, in Miami today.
He hasn’t received a reply yet, but he says he’ll keep trying and he’ll have more information once it becomes available.