Williston spa closure leaves customers high and dry

By  | 

WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) A Williston medical spa appears to have suddenly shut down, leaving customers concerned for their cash and ex-employees unpaid.

Customers of MD Cosmetics Medical Spa in Williston were surprised to find the doors locked Wednesday. A taped sign read the office is now "closed until further notice."

The sudden shutdown comes about a week after the spa advertised service specials online, but now their website and Facebook page have also been taken down.

"Our clinics were full, and everybody seemed to be happy," said Dr. Colleen Parker, the former medical director at the spa.

Parker resigned in July following what she calls "warning signs" from her ex-boss, Erin Jewell.

"She was bouncing a couple of paychecks and it was explained that it was a problem with the bank," Parker said.

But despite apparent financial problems, Parker says Jewell seemed to be doing quite well.

"Lots of plane tickets, lots of vacations. She bought a brand new BMW X5 hybrid. She had really nice jewelry," Parker said.

The spa offered cosmetic services like Botox, laser hair removal and makeup. Parker says patients often bought expensive package deals in advance. But now, after the closure, there's concern those prepaid services won't be refunded.

Reporter Tyler Dumont: What warning did customers get?
Dr. Colleen Parker: I don't think they got any warning.

"This was my actual first procedure I was getting done," said Jennette Nutting, one of those concerned customers.

Nutting bought $550 worth of services during a special, a credit she planned to use in the coming weeks.

Tyler Dumont: Of that $550, how much did you use?
Jennette Nutting: I used zero.

We tried to find MD Cosmetics owner Erin Jewell at her Essex home. But instead, a man who identified himself as her landlord said wasn't there and got aggressive with a WCAX News photographer. We finally caught up with Jewell through a neighboring business owner's cellphone.

Tyler Dumont: Well, can you tell us why you closed?
Erin Jewell: I have no comment at this time under my lawyer's advice.
Tyler Dumont: OK, well you owe a lot of people from what we've heard. Can you sort of explain what happened?

"I don't know how she can get away with it. I don't know how you can take people's money in exchange for future services, and then leave," Parker said.

The Attorney General's Consumer Assistance Program said they have received seven complaints against the spa over the past 48 hours. They haven't launched an official investigation yet, but if you had a credit with the business, the AG's office says you should also file a complaint with them.