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Anger as ugly truth of beauty class 'deal' revealed

AN online deals site has been forced to issue refunds on a beauty masterclass that turned out to be a cosmetic joke.

Customers of discount offers website Livingsocial.com said the "professional make-up and hair masterclass with a MAC goodie bag" worth €342 turned out to be a raw deal.

In total, around 2,000 of the discount deals, selling for €29, were snapped up by Irish customers, netting the sellers a hefty €58,000.

But now the expensive MAC make-up is no longer included, and the city centre venue for the masterclass has been switched to an out-of-town hotel.

Clients are also advised to bring their own cosmetics and equipment -- right down to the table mirrors needed to see what they're doing.

Last night, following queries from the Irish Independent, Livingsocial said it would refund money to people who were unhappy with the deal.

Sarah-Jane Byrne from Dublin said she spotted the deal offered by Blaze Management Agency on livingsocial.com in November and thought it would make the perfect girly day out.

She bought two of the deals for herself and as a Christmas present for a friend, and signed up for a class due to be held tomorrow.

But Ms Byrne said she was furious to get an email a few days ago from Blaze stating it would "no longer be issuing MAC products. This is due to many copies (counterfeits) being available on the market which we do not want to be in possession of or pass on to our students."

The previously advertised deal for a MAC goodie bag had specifically promised a MAC tinted lipgloss, typically retailing at €20.

It also should have included assorted cosmetics and a brush set, but the organisers have now scaled that back to "four brand-name products".

The email also stated that the class would now be held at a hotel in north Dublin instead of the Radisson Golden Lane in central Dublin.

Ms Byrne requested a refund from Livingsocial.com on the basis that "there is a material change to our contract and what I am now being offered is not what I purchased", but got nowhere until the Irish Independent intervened.

Livingsocial last night said it would refund the money to the people affected.

"Livingsocial makes every effort to offer the best experiences to our members and to only work with great businesses in every one of our markets.

"As always we stand behind the deals that we promote and encourage all members who pursued this deal to contact our customer service team to enquire about a refund," said a statement.

The two women posted about their experience on consumer website askaboutmoney.com and discovered that Blaze had attracted a great deal of negative feedback internationally.

As revealed by the Irish Independent, Livingsocial was separately forced in October to refund hundreds of customers for €42,000 worth of beauty treatments at a clinic in Dublin that didn't exist.

The National Consumer Agency said yesterday it had received a handful of complaints about Livingsocial but none specifically about Blaze.

"If a customer purchases a deal and the nature of the deal changes significantly after they have purchased it, the agency would expect that the company would offer the customer a refund or 'like-for-like' alternative to dissatisfied customers," it said.

Blaze Management Agency did not respond to a request for a comment.

Irish Independent