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Tanning Bed

The Tanning Bed at 104 North St. in Auburn is now closed.

The Dec. 29 closure of the Auburn location of tanning salon chain Tanning Bed has burned local staff and customers alike.

Former employee Eva Poupore said the North Street salon's seven employees were formally notified of the closure on Jan. 2 — three days after it happened. She added that the salon had even taken shipment of new lotion about a month before the closure, making the news all the more surprising.

The employees also weren't offered jobs at the Aurelius location of Zoom Tan, the chain that acquired Tanning Bed's customer contracts in bankruptcy court late last year, Poupore said.

Then, Jan. 8, the day those seven employees should have received their outstanding wages from Tanning Bed, they received nothing. They had to email the company's payroll department to get what they were owed, Poupore said.

"Who knows what would have happened if we didn't say anything," she said.

Tanning Bed's employees aren't the only people in the Cayuga County area adversely affected by the business's acquisition by Zoom Tan. So, too, were those customers whose contracts changed hands from the third largest chain of tanning salons in New York state to the largest.

One of them was Sue Powers, of Auburn. A regular customer of Tanning Bed for more than 10 years, Powers found out on Facebook that the salon had closed, no more than a few days after she had last been there.

Another few days later, her Tanning Bed account was billed.

"Nobody told me anything, they didn't send me a letter — they just took our money and ran," she said of Tanning Bed. "It just came out of nowhere."

Zoom Tan attorney John Sarrett said Tanning Bed's former customers are now being billed for access to Zoom Tan's services, but that the money is going to Tanning Bed so it can pay its creditors.

"When you acquire a business, it's not as simple as a buying a car," he said. "There are a lot of unknowns."

For customers like Powers, the circumstances have proven amenable after the confusion cleared. She now goes to the Zoom Tan in Fingerlakes Crossing, and though she doesn't like its stand-up beds and slightly higher fees, she does like its spray tan services.

Other customers aren't so sold on Zoom Tan. Brandon Perrault, of Auburn, can't use its beds because he's a quadriplegic.

His mother, Dawn, said they would have canceled his Tanning Bed membership as soon as they learned of its acquisition by Zoom Tan. But, like Powers, they were billed just a few days after the Auburn salon closed — and before they knew what precisely they were being billed for.

Dawn said Brandon was able to cancel his Zoom Tan membership Jan. 29. (Per company policy, he had to appear at the Aurelius salon in person to do so.) However, he still seeks refunds from Tanning Bed for both his January membership charge and the eight months' worth of his annual membership charge that he won't be using.

Dawn said she hasn't heard back from Tanning Bed, nor its legal representation, after multiple attempts to redress those charges with them. 

Tanning Bed's legal representation at firm Barclay Damon did not respond to The Citizen's requests for comment.

The New York State Attorney General's office declined to comment on the legality of how Tanning Bed handled its closure with its customers, but encouraged any dissatisfied customers to contact the office at 1-800-771-7755.

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen.