Flat Iron Scam: Are Mall Kiosks Selling Fakes?
A few days before Christmas, my daughter and I went to the Mall of America. MOA has more than 520 stores, 50 restaurants, an indoor theme park, and tons of other family attractions and nightlife options. My stepson’s plane arrived at midnight, so we were killing time. We both were tired and hungry, and that’s when it happened. The Mall Kiosk Guy bombarded us. And we learned about the Flat Iron Scam.
Is Soleil Hair Tools Legit, or is the Soleil Flat Iron a Scam?
So, I wondered if the flat iron I saw at a Mall Kiosk was authentic. I didn’t question whether the company Soleil is even real. Turns out they have less than 2,000 Facebook fans, which is not many for a worldwide company. So, I’m not sure how legit they are, because they aren’t exactly Conair (although that name might be more appropriate here hahaha).
The Dirty Little Secret of Mall Kiosks
We walked by a Mall Kiosk. Fabio offered us free samples. I like free samples! He was almost as smooth as the flat iron, calling me Queen and my daughter Princess. My daughter’s hair is gorgeous. But, my hair is thin and doesn’t hold a curl. So, he offered to demonstrate. He curled our hair and explained the Soleil flat iron to us. I have to say, I was seriously impressed with how well it worked – even on my limp hair. I washed my hair the next day to get the curls out.
Side note: I like beauty tools almost as much as I like kitchen appliances (seriously guys, I have like 50 appliances!) LOL!
Soleil Flat Iron
Fabio demonstrates the Soleil hair straightener.
Metallic\Rubberized Flat Iron – MSRP $350.00
100% Solid ceramic magnetized plates
Heat up to 450°F
Far infrared & ionic technology
Floating plates to customize a style
Dual voltage (110V/240V)
360° swivel cord
Trio Miracle Oil – MSRP $145
Shake well before use. Apply 2-5 sprays of Soleil TRIO Miracle Oil to clean hair, from roots to ends. Use on either wet or dry hair. Blow hair dry, or let dry naturally.
– repair deeply damaged hair
– condition split ends
– tame flyaways
Let the Negotiations Begin
I knew I was in over my curly head when he told me the price: only $320! Um… nope! That was easy.
Of course, he wasn’t done. Actually, it was really, really high-pressure sales. My daughter really wanted the hair straightener too, so that didn’t help. Plus, did I mention how tired I was?
He offered $100 off. When I showed no interest, he pulled out a coupon for $50 off and said I could use that too. Current price: $170.
Still, way too high for this frugal blogger. It crossed my mind to google it and see what these things cost. At that very moment, he brought out his phone and showed me on Amazon that they do indeed cost upwards from $275, $300, $350, etc. Well, dang.
High-Pressure Sales – Just One of the Services We Offer
So, he knew I wasn’t buying it. He showed us Trio Miracle Oil. After that, he turned the box over and showed the price: $145. Then, he shook it up and sprayed some on his hand, and massaged it through my hair. He told us about it. Three different oils (coconut oil, rose petal oil and marula oil) which separate (and look cool). Shake it well before using it to repair deeply damaged hair, condition split ends and tame flyaways.
But, come on now, 145 dollars?
Finally, he asked my daughter which color flat iron she wanted. She chose turquoise. I started to panic! I got up to leave, and he said, “here! (as he handed her the flat iron in a bag) This is MY GIFT to you for free.” My daughter looked astounded! Then he turned to me and said, “you just pay for the Trio oil and you can have both.”
He saw me coming, that’s for sure. He exploited that I was tired and weak. And, I let him.
The thoughts that went through my mind went something like this:
Wait. Hmmm… that’s kind of a good deal. A $320 product and a $145 product — for $145?
Wait! That’s a lot of money! I wouldn’t pay $145 for that hair oil anyway!
Still, it’s saving $320.
No! I know that these flat irons are priced so they look expensive but they’re actually cheap and dumb.
Wait. He used it on me and it actually worked…
No wait, I am a review blogger! I could just go home and ask the company to give me one to review… for free!
But then what if they say no. What if they say yes and I have to write a freaking review. lol
That happened in about 5 seconds. And, yes, I talk to myself. lol
Turns out, I just needed to consult Cracked.com for the perfect way to say NO that they can’t argue with!
But there is hope: “There is a sentence that, if you say, there is no rebuttal for,” David says. “When I first heard it, I just stood there completely dumbfounded and didn’t know what to say. My colleague said that if everyone knew to say it, we would all be out of business.” Those magic words are: “‘I love it; I’m already sold; my husband is coming to buy it for me next week.”That means that I can’t convince you because you’re already convinced. I can’t get any money from you right now because you’ve already scheduled your purchase and it’s not today.
I don’t agree. But, it might work. I said something almost like this but lacked conviction.
And apparently, I’m not the only one who gets jumped by the mall kiosk guys.
You did Whaaaaat??!
What happened next is kind of a blur. Remember, I was tired and hungry. I wanted to get out of there. I even texted my husband who was at home and said: “HELP ME!” LOL! (Which actually freaked him out a little, but I explained that I was weak and about to spend money on something dumb.)
Next, I looked at my daughter with her sweet, happy and pleading little face. I looked in the mirror at my amazing curls. I looked at him… and I …
are you sitting down?
I got out my credit card, and I bought the darn thing. I bought it.
We left. Then we went to a movie. Finally, we went to the airport.
Traffic at the airport was crazy, so we had some time to just sit still and think. What made me buy? That’s so unlike me.
I Googled it. I picked up my phone and googled “flat iron at the mall” and what I found was disheartening – to say the least. Dozens of people, maybe even hundreds, were complaining about the flat iron they bought at a mall kiosk. The same brand that I had just bought. It hadn’t even occurred to me that this might be a scam. I wondered: Is my hair straightener authentic?
But there they all were, plain as day. All of them talking about how they’d bought a flat iron at a mall kiosk from people who were very pushy and used hard sales tactics. Many customers alleged that the flat iron used at the mall kiosk was not the same as the one they were selling to people. That’s an illegal practice called Bait and Switch. You’re sold on something that works great, but you’re given a different, inferior product than what you were sold on. The customer takes home a product that is a fake, replica, or not authentic. Customers also complained that their product broke right away. Oh, and I also noticed that some got their flat iron for $70 or $80. I’m not sure what made me angrier, the idea that I got ripped off or that I paid more than someone else did. LOL!
This company does offer a lifetime guarantee so you could get a replacement but there are absolutely no returns. No matter what they tell you when trying to sell it to you, it says NO RETURNS right on the top of the receipt.
But, at this point, I was questioning the legitimacy of the company and their product.
What Should I Do If I Think I Bought a Fake Hair Straightener?
So, I called my credit card. They protect against situations like this but said it would take up to 3 billing cycles to determine the outcome. In other words, whether or not I’d get my money back. So, I have to pay the bill. Or, I will pay interest.
Me: the queen of investigating fake freebies, the author of Gimmie’s Big List of Fake Freebies to Avoid. I fell for it!!
Or, did I?
I told my daughter that sometimes people aren’t honest. And, it’s always a good idea to pause before making a big purchase. Even if this flat iron is real and authentic, the manner in which they sold it was pushy and high pressure. It’s important to learn how to get out of situations like that when you do not want to buy.
Contacting the Company
When I got home, I googled Soleil Hair Tools and found this website soleilhairtools.com. The company, Soleil, is based in Van Nuys, California. On the warranty card, I also found letyourhairshine.com which forwards to soleilhairtools.com. So, I contacted the Facebook page linked from their website and chatted with them. My question was: how can I tell if my flat iron is authentic?
They have less than 2000 fans. I asked THEM if they’re legit, and of course, they said yes.
It’s possible that the people at the mall kiosk sell fakes for a legit company. But, it’s also possible that the company is not legit.
When I asked them how to spot a fake, they said: All original Soleil Hair tools have a serial number, and that serial number is also engraved on the actual product. Serial numbers are one letter followed by 10 numbers. In addition to being on the box, the serial number is engraved on the hair tool itself. Mine actually looks more like it’s printed in white ink, but they said that was it.
I asked the company if my flat iron was authentic. They were able to look up the serial number, and they said the flat iron is in fact authentic.
Soleil Hair Tools Statements
They also confirmed that “every vendor that sells Soleil products at the mall is an authorized vendor. If there is a problem with the product, you have a lifetime warranty trough [sic] us, the manufacturer, and we will be more than happy to replace it for you.”
Lastly, they said, “vendors who sell Soleil hair tools on eBay are not authorized to do so.” In other words, don’t buy a Soleil hair straightener on eBay. Your product will not be covered by warranty.
We the manufacture of the Soleil brand and Soleil products. We do not sell directly to the public in shopping centers or malls, but we do have re-sellers (authorized vendors) in many malls around the country and worldwide. Every retailer/authorize vendor that sells our products is an individually owned business, with their own pricing, promotions, employees, return and exchange policy which is usually backed up by the mall. As the manufacture of the Soleil products, we provide a lifetime warranty on our flat irons. If there is any problem/issue with the product itself we will be more than happy to replace it and send you a new one.
The vendor I purchased from operates at several malls throughout the Minneapolis and Saint Paul metro area. I bought my hair tool at the Mall of America.
Bait and Switch is illegal. Did I buy a fake flat iron? According to the company – whose authenticity is questionable – the mall kiosk that sold me my flat iron is an authorized vendor. According to the company, my flat iron is authentic. But, I don’t know if the company is legit.
That’s not to mention that Mall Kiosks often employ people who are… not from this country. The sexy accent? It’s more than just a sales technique. Most mall kiosk employees are in this country on a travel visa, meaning they’re not supposed to be here working. Certainly, ripping people off is bad.
And, most mall kiosks sell overpriced crap. So, don’t be too trusting. Have you seen the cream that allegedly dissolves dead skin cells and they float right up so you can see them? FAKE! That’s one of MANY. So, if you haven’t figured it out already, steer clear of the mall kiosks and just say NO!
The real question: does my Soleil flat iron work? I curled my hair. Then, I curled my daughter’s hair. The one big difference from the demo model I was shown in the mall is that it doesn’t stay hot enough to curl continuously. In other words, you need to keep stopping and letting it heat back up. It doesn’t work as well as the one Fabio used on me at the mall kiosk.
So, it kinda works. But, does that make it a $320 flat iron? I will probably always wonder if I bought a flat iron that is worth more like $20. It does work somewhat, but I would not consider myself happy with my purchase. Lucky for me, I can’t take it back (that was sarcasm – just one of the services I provide).
Soleil Lifetime Warranty
According to the warranty card, the lifetime warranty costs $59.99. It is free with a purchase of $300. Register your product online, or mail in the warranty card included in your package. The card provides a lifetime replacement warranty on the purchased hair tool, covering any breakage, failure to heat, or other malfunction due to design or manufacturing defect, for as long as you own the hair tool. For more information about the warranty, visit soleilhairtools.com/warranty or call 855-788-7255. There is a $20.00 copay required when sending back a product for replacement.
Hmmm… $20 for a replacement. What does that tell you?