Bay Area salon called out reservation app; now it's being sued for scamming small businesses

Liz Kreutz Image
ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
App sued for scamming businesses after Bay Area salon spoke out
ClassPass is being accused of listing small businesses on their site without the owners' approval, and booking appointments that do not exist.

LOS ALTOS, Calif. (KGO) -- The owners of a Bay Area salon recently told ABC7 News about an unusual encounter they had with a client. A woman came into their Los Altos salon and said she had an appointment, but they had no record of it.

The client explained she had booked her appointment on "ClassPass Concierge," a beta program that allows members to book beauty services at local businesses. It's part of the larger and more well-known ClassPass subscription service for fitness centers and gyms.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Bay Area salon confused why booking app 'ClassPass Concierge' lists business without consent

The problem for the salon owners? They had never heard of "ClassPass Concierge" and had no idea they were being featured on the platform.

Still, they said their profile on ClassPass' website showed they had several openings for appointments that were not actually available.

"They took some lingo from our website and then took photos from our website and then uploaded some stock images that we didn't even do the hair for, so it was kind of alarming," Whitney Ratigan, one of the owners of Pursuit Salon, told ABC7 News last month.

It turns out, Pursuit Salon is not alone. A class action lawsuit has recently been filed against ClassPass for this very scenario. The lawsuit alleges the New York company -- which was recently acquired by California-based MindBody -- improperly uses businesses' identities for its own use.

  • You can read the full complaint here:
  • "They're stepping essentially into my business," Brian Jackson, the plaintiff in the case and owner of Leeah Nail Salon in Montclair, N.J., explained in an interview with ABC7 News.

    Jackson's first encounter with ClassPass happened in September, when a client said she had already pre-paid for her service using ClassPass. Jackson had no record of that payment, though, and no affiliation with the company.

    "I knew right out of the gate I was not partnered with them. We had never even heard of them prior to that," Jackson said. "After that, I found that they were using our name our likeness and even offering our services on their website as part of their packages."

    RELATED: Businesses brace for holidays during global supply chain nightmare

    Jackson said when he later tried to contact the client to help remedy the situation, he couldn't because the number on her account was not her number, but a number for ClassPass. "They're actually controlling the data and information of the clients who do come into our business," Jackson explained.

    According to the complaint, however, that same client described her encounter online, where she gave ClassPass a one-star review and wrote that she was "scammed out of $70."

    VIDEO: SF restaurant loses $8,000 in one night from COVID-related cancellation

    Many San Francisco restaurants and bars have reopened, but as coronavirus numbers have been up and down, so has business for some.

    The complaint also alleges that not only is the company misrepresenting these businesses, but also misrepresenting the size of their own network. ClassPass states on their website that they have over 50,000 health and wellness partners around the world.

    Jackson's attorney, Raphael Janove, said they see two major issues with how ClassPass is operating.

    "Businesses listed without their consent, and then also the end harm of consumers being duped, tricked, into signing up for ClassPass based on this false expectation of this wide network and wide services," Janove said.

    ClassPass began in 2013 as a subscription-based service for members to try different gyms and workout classes in cities around the country. Much more recently, the company expanded into "wellness appointments," such as hair and nail salons and massages.

    RELATED: Bank of America won't say why it gave refunds to some Zelle scam victims but not others

    ClassPass did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit from ABC7 News.

    Previously, a spokesperson had told ABC7 News that the company does list businesses that have not explicitly agreed to partner with them.

    "ClassPass does not make any revenue off concierge services," spokesperson Mandy Menaker said. "They are a way for us to offer additional services to our members and help them to discover local businesses."

    RELATED: San Leandro company accused of sending customers products they didn't order

    Jackson said that while he appreciates any effort to help local businesses, he does not feel this is the appropriate way to go about it.

    "It's great that the client that did find us, found us through ClassPass," he said. "But at the same time, ClassPass accepted money on my business' behalf without our consent and they're also advertising that we've partnered with them in an effort to generate memberships on their behalf, that only they accept money for."

    Jackson told ABC7 News he tried to contact ClassPass after the incident but never heard back. His business was still featured on their platform on the day the lawsuit was filed but has since been taken down.

    RELATED: Illegal vacation rental near Fairfield is back on VRBO

    The owners of Pursuit Salon in Los Altos, who are not part of the complaint, were able to reach a ClassPass representative and their salon is no longer listed on the site. Those owners shared their story simply hoping to raise awareness and to protect other small Bay Area businesses.

    "It's like Doordash signing a restaurant up and asking for food delivery that's not actually available. You know?" another part owner Claire Sternberg said. "It doesn't make sense to us."

    Ultimately, Janove said the lawsuit comes down to this: "These are businesses. They get to choose how they advertise and market their services."