Calgarian attempts to recoup thousands after airport encounter with cosmetics salesperson
A Calgary woman claims an aggressive beauty product sales pitch in the terminal of the Calgary International Airport went too far and says the bullying tactics left her facing a hefty credit card charge.
Prior to a recent flight, Carol-Ann Villeneuve was making her way towards airport security when a salesman with Elements Spa Boutique called out to her.
“He says come, come sit down I'll give you a sample for your eyes,” recalls Villeneuve of the cosmetics sales pitch. “I'll apply and I’ll show you how good they are.”
The 64-year-old says the salesman convinced her to try a line of eye care products but she was shocked when the price of the products was disclosed.
“He says $3,300,” said Villeneuve. “I said ‘Oh my god no. That’s too expensive’. He says ‘Yes you can do it’, the usual thing, you know, that I owe it to myself.”
Villeneuve says the employee would not back down. Fearing she would miss her flight, she handed the salesman her credit card.
The sales pitch continued and Villeneuve says the employee asked for her boarding pass to convince her that she had more time. At the end of her 40 minute experience with the Elements Spa Boutique staff member, Villeneuve’s final bill was staggering.
“$10,291,” said Villeneuve, a total she says she continues to feel terrible about. “Why wasn’t I strong enough to get up and leave?”
Officials with the Calgary Airport Authority call the alleged sales tactics unacceptable.
“We are aware of some concerns with this particular retailer,” explained Henry Stevens, the Calgary Airport Authority’s manager of corporate communications. “It’s something we’re taking very, very seriously.”
High pressure sales tactic can breach Alberta’s Fair Trading Act.
“You cannot exert undue pressure or influence on the consumer to enter into a transaction,” said Mohammed El Hazzouri, assistant professor of marketing at Mount Royal University’s Bisset School of Business.
Villeneuve says she attempted to return the items eight days after her purchase but was told her money would not be refunded and she could only exchange the products.
CTV Calgary visited Elements Spa Boutique and contacted its owner, a numbered company based in Ontario, looking for a response to Villeneuve’s accusations. Representatives were unwilling to appear in an on-camera interview but the company issued the following email statement:
“The manner in which the sales associate in question behaved doesn’t follow our philosophy or our strategies and that’s why the individual is no longer part of our team.”
“Our top priority now is to ensure that the customer receives her lawful right back, which is a full refund.”
Villeneuve hopes others can learn from her expensive and embarrassing experience.
“It could have been somebody else. It wasn’t just me and I’m sure there are other people out there.”
Lawyers representing Villeneuve and Elements Spa Boutique are now involved in the dispute. Villeneuve says she has yet to receive the refund the company promised in its email to CTV Calgary.
With files from CTV's Camilla Di Giuseppe