Monday, September 21, 2009

Great Fall Equinox Spa Party last night...

I conducted a focus group back in July of 2009 with some of Pavia's best clients. I played several games with them and ran some ideas by them on a warm Sunday afternoon. One game I played was called, "Speedboat," where I asked them to imagine that Pavia was a speedboat and that we had anchors that caused our speedboat to be "slow." I asked them to each write down the name of the anchor and come and post it on the poster of the speedboat. This is a game intended to get them thinking about what they don't like about Pavia.

One of the biggest anchors was, "Have more parties." Meaning, they wanted us to have more events and spa parties - I didn't realize these events were so enjoyable, so I decided to listen to them and do quarterly parties. Along came the inaugural "Fall into Pavia" equinox party, to celebrate nothing more earth-shattering and impactful than the seasonal transition. Which, in California, is kind of non-existent. (The full import of this realization occurred yesterday, as I was scattering leaves throughout the spa and putting paper pumpkins into vases, that it was fall inside the spa, but it was definitely summer outside, if the 95-degree weather had anything to say about it).

Nevertheless, we proceeded bravely with our "Fall into Pavia" event last night and we had a great time. Even me, though I was running around for the most part a la a headless chicken. For the first time ever, the party was completely sold out, and I think this was due to our membership program. Every guest was either a member or the guest of a member, and if they were neither, then they became a member by the end of the night. We offered services that I tried very hard to name as "cutely" as possible:

  • Stick-Me: Acupuncture. Although our LAc, Anne Dugan, is so fabulous she can do needle-less acupuncture.
  • Peel-Me: Facial, featuring our Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel from Eminence. Great for fall!
  • Read-Me: Tarot reading, featuring the ever-insightful Theresa Hatcher. 
  • Forget-Me-Knots: Massage. Forget my knots, get it? Haha. 
  • Wrap-Me: A body wrap, which included dry-brushing session followed by a wrap in the Eminence Pumpkin Cream Wrap in our wet room, which has a 5-headed Vichy Shower in it (makes for an fabulous water treatment).
  • Me Dogs Are Barking: A foot treatment. Because the swine flu has hit our town pretty hard, I included a hot oil treatment with Thyme and Eucalyptus to bolster immunity.
All the guests seemed relaxed and content afterwards, which is always a good feeling. It was stressful this time, especially as the person who was going to cater canceled on me one day before, and she was also one of the estheticians who was going to perform the peels. We did a last-minute scramble (thank God for our new hire Kim Boyd, who is a nail technician possessed of an esthetician license), begged Summer to come in and do the foot treatments, and all was well that ended well.

Took a quick poll to see if the next party should be before or after the holidays, and they seemed to concur that it should be post-holiday, when everyone has time to relax and detox. Am going to have fun concocting mini-treatments for that, for sure!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MBF Leasing continued...

Okay, I'm reasonably even-keeled now. Let me tell the facts of my story.

1. I thought that just because I am a Stanford MBA, that I could never be swindled. Well, I was WRONG. Joke's on me!

2. This was actually a good lesson in humility for me, because I had a habit of behaving like an arrogant ass in the past, and I definitely needed to be taken down a peg.

3. In July 2005, I was approached by "Dave" of Vericomm, who explained that he could save me a great deal of money on my Visa/Mastercard processing. Instead of paying 2.5% on all charges, I could pay just 1.69% (this did not turn out to be true either, but that is a story for another time). I agreed to take him up on a meeting.

4. During our meeting, he stated that in order for me to take advantage of his low rates, I would have to lease some equipment from an affiliated company (MBF Leasing), even though I already owned my own credit card processing equipment. He said that my equipment could not be re-programmed to work with his, and that leasing from this company was the only way to process with Vericomm. Well, this turned out to be patently false, too, but I didn't learn that until later.

5. "Dave" explained that this would be a "lease-to-own," and that it would cost $159.95 per month, for 48 months, after which, the lease would cancel. He showed me the one-page lease, and I signed it. He left me a copy of the one-page lease that I signed, which I have until this day.

6. Later, I search online and find out that the equipment I have leased are purchase-able for just $400. I became incensed at myself, just furious. I lay awake for nights crying, feeling my heart racing and my blood boiling and that terrible, tight, taut feeling in my chest. I must have shaved a few years off of my life during all those sleepless nights full of tears.

7. Finally, I decide that it may be an expensive lesson, but I deserved to pay for it, since, after all, I had signed that "non-cancellable" lease, had I not?

8. I faithfully allow them to withdraw $178.10 each month out of my account (even though the lease was for $159.95) - when I asked why, they said it was for "insurance waiver" and "sales tax." I didn't really understand this, but I was too busy running my business to protest.

9. So imagine my happiness when 2009 comes around and I can finally get out from under this very expensive lease and move on with my life. July 2009 is my last payment, supposedly.

10. Except that in August 2009, they take another payment out of my account for $179.70. I leave 3 irate messages (after holding for 7 minutes each time) at 1-866-781-0411. They never return my calls.

11. They do it again in September 2009 (on the 3rd), and now I am incensed. I tell my bank to put a stop payment on any charges from MBF Leasing. Whaddaya know, NOW they start to call me back, because NOW they have no access to my money.

12. Here's the kicker: they tell me that the lease I signed is only the FIRST PAGE of a four-page lease. Bullshit. There was only the 1 page. They even FAX me a copy of the lease I signed, which in no way, shape, or form, resembled what I actually signed, because what I actually signed was just one page...

12a. By the way, this lease they faxed over, which was never presented to me, basically said that the lease was not cancellable, regardless of whether the equipment worked or not. Now, I may be a doofus, but I am not THAT big of a doofus where I would sign something that said I owed someone even if the equipment they provided did not work. I am SURE that was why this "Dave" of Vericomm never provided the real lease to me.

12b. The copy of the lease they sent me says, "Page 1 of  4" in teeny tiny print at the very bottom of the page. MY copy of the lease that I signed has no such thing. This has become a rallying cry for them, as Mark, ID # 8290 of MBF Leasing, said to me, "Why would you sign a lease document if you didn't have all the pages? It clearly says, 'Page 1 of 4.'" Um, no, it didn't. He admonished me for not "reading carefully" - well, I did read carefully, and the copy presented to me said NOTHING about any other pages. I mean, I can't help it if this "Dave" from Vericomm fraudulently gave me only a single page to sign, and now they want to hold me to this lease that I was fraudulently induced to sign?

13. So now they tell me that I have 3 options: 1) buy out the equipment; 2) go month-to-month; or 3) return the equipment AND pay a "payoff" balance of $359.40. This despite the fact that I have paid them over $8,000 for the right to use a $400 piece of equipment, that I only ended up using for 3 months total. Because after THAT, I was swindled by yet ANOTHER company...and that really is a story for another time, because it will provide evidence that I might really be genuinely stupid.

14. And the thing that struck me as hilarious, was that Mark, ID #8290, was repeatedly argumentative with me...and he's supposed to be a customer service guy. And what's more, he did not sound AT ALL surprised by my complaints, which meant that - ding ding ding ding ding - he's heard them before! In fact, I bet he's heard them hundreds of times, from hundreds of other people. So he's got to ask himself - are all of us leaseholders just evil and trying to lie our way out of a lease (I mean, I at least paid for ALL of mine), or is there something really sinister going on at his company? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Well, folks, this was a public service announcement. I will likely just suck it up and pay off the money, because I don't want the negative energy and I just want to flush Vericomm and MBF Leasing down the toilet of life like so much dog excrement and move on to better things. But I wanted to save anyone who might be reading this the toil, trouble, and heartache of dealing with these inglorious you-know-whats. I'm out!


I really wrestled with myself as to whether or not to write this. On the one hand, I hate to complain, and feel terrible doing it. It just brings negative energy to me. On the other hand, I have learned some really expensive lessons that lessened my faith and trust in my fellow human beings, and I want to share them so that other innocent people are not victimized. So I will tell my story in the hope that I can prevent other people from being rampantly de-frauded and victimized by a company that has zero ethics or morals.

Here is the MORAL OF MY STORY: Read every contract diligently. MBF Leasing, also known as Northern Leasing and Lease Finance Group, is OUT TO GET YOU. DON'T SIGN ANY LEASE, OF ANY KIND, WITH THEIR NAME ON IT. YOU WILL REGRET IT, I PROMISE YOU.

Here are some links posted by many, many other people who also have a tale of woe. In fact, all you have to do is type "MBF Leasing" into Google and you will see the 26,900 listings that almost all have the terms, "ripoff, complaints, scam, beware, pissed, or fraud" in them. I wish I had done this myself, BEFORE I signed that lease.
They were even on the news for their sins:

Okay, my blood is starting to boil again, mostly in anger and self-reprobation. I will go take a few deep breaths and see if I can calm myself down enough to write again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Changing the Date & Time for Pavia Well-binar

Well, as it turns out, I consulted no one's convenience but my own when scheduling our inaugural Pavia "well-binar." I basically scheduled it for when it was convenient for me, and me alone. Duh. Everyone knows you should not do that. Except, apparently, me. So I have gone ahead and changed the date and time to a day when others are NOT working. Here is the new information:

"Interpreting Your Dreams for Personal Success" Well-Binar
  • Date: September 26, 2009 (Saturday)
  • Time: 10am Pacific
  • Cost: $8 (20% off for Pavia Health Nuts and Health Advocates)
  • Registration link here
  • Instructions: Click on the link above, choose the week of 9/21 to 9/27/09, and you will see the class listed under Theresa's name.
  • After you register, we will send you the link for the on-line well-binar!
Hope to "see" you there!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Everybody is always coming and going...

Sometimes I think Pavia is not a spa, but a train station, a gateway point where different people intersect, for what seems just a transitory moment in their lives. We don't have the turnover issues that others in this industry have, but it has felt lately like the comings and goings at Pavia rival those of Grand Central.


  • Well, Miss Annie Banannie (that is what we call her) is dropping down to just one day a week at the end of October. Our nail goddess extraordinaire is just working way too hard with two jobs.
  • Julie Matthews is now working at a chiropractor's office as an Office Manager. We really miss her - lucky for us she is not too far away.
  • To replace Annie's hours, we have hired Kim Boyd - she is a truly cool lady with a great vibe and I know everyone will like her.
Going...but Coming Back
  • Shelly Shelly Shelly...having a baby, and will be out on maternity leave until December. Can't wait to meet baby Dylan!
Coming...but Going Again
  • Sarah, CMT, is back at Pavia from her sojourn in the city, and she has brought back some great ideas for us. She has an idea for a new service that I can't wait to launch...more on that later. But this little dynamo is moving to Chicago in January, and I will miss her sorely.
  • Angela, a long-time friend of Shelly's, is also substituting for her while she is out on maternity leave. I've gotten really attached to Angela. So I don't even want to put her in this column...hopefully we will manifest a way for her to stay on past Shelly's return.
See what I mean? A veritable train station...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Inaugural Pavia "Well"-binar: Interpreting Your Dreams for Personal Success

So excited to announce our first ever Pavia "Well-binar!" Theresa Hatcher, intuitive healer, Reiki master, certified hypnotherapist, and dream interpreter extraordinaire, will join me to discuss the importance of our dreams and why they matter for our wellness. We will talk about how learning the language of dreams can provide insight into and solutions to our problems, the meaning of certain dream symbols, and common dream scenarios. You will also have the chance to hear Theresa interpret two of my own personal dreams (Yikes! Talk about baring my soul) and answer your questions.

If you care to join us, please check out the details below:

  • Date: September 25, 2009
  • Time: 10am Pacific
  • Cost: $8 (20% off for Pavia Health Nuts and Health Advocates)
  • Registration link here
  • Instructions: Click on the link above, choose the week of 9/21 to 9/27/09, and you will see the class listed under Theresa's name.
  • After you register, we will send you the link for the on-line well-binar!
Hope to "see" you there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Changing business models!

I am trying a radically different experiment for my spa that no other has ever thought least, not that I have ever heard before. It's a true wellness model, one that encourages clients to come more frequently to experience true wellness. Remember that old guy Hippocrates? Yeah, the first true "doctor." He said the way to health was through an aromatic massage and bath every day. Well, why can't we resurrect that old model? I know, I know, we're busy, not enough time, not enough money.

So I thought of a way to make wellness more affordable...I created a membership program that provides a hefty discount on all spa treatments - 20% off. The membership fee is $20 a month (our Health Nut level), or $25 a month (our Health Advocate level). As a Health Nut, you get 20% off of all treatments, all the time, no matter when you come. You even get 20% off of Off-Peak services. As a Health Advocate, you get the same, plus you get to share your discount with two non-members each month, so that you can promote health and wellness. At these prices, my hope is that people can afford to come 1-2x every month, creating true well-being and really getting the benefits they need to get out of going to a wellness spa.

There will also be members-only services that others are not privy to - I am having a great deal of fun designing them as I write this (almost gleeful). We will see how it goes - this could either be the greatest thing since sliced bread, or I could fall flat on my face with this "economic recovery plan." But nothing risked is nothing gained, so I am moving forward bravely with this plan. I would definitely be interested in hearing anyone's feedback on it!