CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – City of Charleston leaders are looking for solutions to curb aggressive sales tactics reported on King Street.
“Weeding out problems like these without hurting legitimate businesses is one of the toughest challenges that come with this job,” said City of Charleston Livability Director Dan Riccio.
The businesses that sell high-priced skin products are known to offer free soap samples near their storefront, but shoppers say the friendly gesture quickly turns into a high-pressure sales pitch.
Two women told News 2 that they felt pressured to spend thousands of dollars at the stores, and were refused a refund because of a strict ‘no-refund policy’ they said they were never told about.
According to the City of Charleston’s Livability Department, 81 complaints have been filed since 2018 against Adore Cosmetics, Resveralife, Soap Stories Inc., and Tresor Rare which is now closed.
Collectively, they have been cited in Livability Court 25 times since 2018.
The Better Business Bureau lists 12 complaints against Resveralife, 19 complaints against Soap Stories Tampa Bay Inc, 5 complaints against Adore Cosmetics, and 5 complaints against Tresor Rare, which has closed.
All of the four businesses on King Street were given an “F” rating by the BBB.
The State Department of Consumer Affairs also lists a combined 10 complaints against the four stores.
Area businesses have also reported complaints against the stores. Croghan’s Jewel Box President, Mariana Hay, said shoppers often cross the street to avoid salespeople on the sidewalk.
“We have never been a street that people have cross the street because they don’t want to be accosted,” said Hay. “That is what I find happens on our block. They don’t want to be solicited by people standing outside the door,” she said.
City of Charleston Councilman Mike Seekings said he has also received several complaints about the four stores.
“I have heard from consumer, business owners, and residents alike that this is an issue for them it is aggressive and it is predatory,” he said.
In October, City Council considered an ordinance that would ban free samples along King Street, spanning from Broad Street to Spring Street and areas around the City Market.
The ordinance was tabled after some council members expressed concern about limiting business’ sales opportunities.
Seekings said taking steps to curb aggressive sales tactics would aid neighboring businesses.
“If you are running a legitimate business on King Street we want you to succeed but if you are running a business on King Street that is hurting other businesses and sending them toward the opposite of success that is something we need to think about and address and We are going to,” Seekings said.
City of Charleston Director of Livability Dan Riccio said they are looking for a solution.
“As the mayor and council have made clear, protecting livability has to be a top priority, and we’re going to keep working this problem from every angle until we have it solved,” said Riccio.
News 2 contacted Soap Stories, Adore Cosmetics, and Tresor Rare for comment and has not heard back.
If you have had an experience with Tresor Rare, Soap Stories, Adore Cosmetics, and Resveralife, click here to contact the investigators.