BOISE - The owner of Positive Changes Hypnosis Centers located in the Northwest has filed for bankruptcy.
This after the hypnosis centers in Idaho, Washington and Oregon closed unexpectedly this week.
"I think this company has really helped a lot of people and it's a testament to the impact that they've had on customers' health," the attorney for the local franchises, Kevin O'Rouke, said to our sister station KREM2.
People across the region who recently showed up for appointments at Positive Changes to find out they were closed want to know if they are out thousands of dollars they've already paid to the company.
The doors at Positive Changes off Emerald Street in Boise are locked - something most customers did not expect. The sign on the door says the center is closed all week for the Easter holiday.
Mary Barlow is one of dozens of clients who took a leap financially.
"I'm a single mom. This is so much for me," Barlow told KTVB. "For me to do it, it was a huge decision."
She signed up for a 9-month package two weeks ago and has only done a couple sessions so far. Barlow received an email last Thursday, telling her Positive Changes was closed from last Friday through this week in observance of Easter. But others say they weren't notified at all that the center was closing temporarily.
"They just never said anything and the doors are locked, and it's crazy," Barlow added.
She says she paid $1,800 up front and if the location is in fact permanently closed, she hopes to get her money back.
"It's just so abrupt and why did they take my money literally two weeks before they closed? I just don't understand," Barlow said. "They have yet to communicate anything with us."
KTVB came out to the Boise location on Thursday and found two women who showed up for appointments to find the center temporarily shut down. They didn't want to go on camera, but tell us they weren't notified that their appointments were canceled. In fact, they got a text reminding them of their appointment times.
Positive Changes is a behavior modification center and has been in business for more than 25 years. Hypnotists work to help people lose weight, quit smoking, and relieve anxiety, among other things.
"I didn't ever expect that this would happen. They've been in business for years and they seem like a reputable company, so I just didn't expect it at all," Barlow added. "It was like a train hit me. I was sick to my stomach."
Positive Changes Northwest has locations in Bellevue and Spokane, Washington, Beaverton, Oregon and Boise.
Our sister station KING5 in Seattle found that they are franchised by a Spokane-based company called ET Research. KTVB tried calling both Positive Changes in Boise and ET Research; we left voicemails but have yet to receive a call back.
We also reached out corporate headquarters; the answering machine said if you're calling about the Bellevue, Spokane, Beaverton and Boise locations, leave your information and they'll get back to you.
Our sister station KGW in Portland received a statement from the Positive Changes spokesperson that says: "All we know is we found out on Friday they were closed. They said they would be closed the week after Easter. We haven't been able to get anything else from them. We can't figure it out, we're in the dark."
The local Better Business Bureau is digging into this and seeking answers too.
"Better Business Bureau is making a number of efforts in our offices and asking, 'hey what's going on?' We want to let people know," BBB Chief Innovation Officer, Dale Dixon, said. "When we started hearing from customers that they were going and finding doors locked and they were not able to take advantage of services they bought, we removed accreditation."
The BBB is encouraging customers to be proactive and keep calling the company looking for answers.
"Customers want to know what should I do if I paid money waiting to make appointments, watch the case closely and try to make contact with business," Dixon said.
According to KREM2, the Positive Changes corporate spokesperson said the corporation has made several attempted to contact the Spokane office and the franchise's attorney and have not gotten responses from either.
Documents filed with bankruptcy court show 21 different companies affiliated with Positive Changes have filed for bankruptcy starting in 2001, and most recently in 2010. Eleven of the 21 that filed were granted bankruptcy. some filed for an estimated $100,000 to $500,000 in debts.
The hypnosis industry in general has had multiple businesses file for bankruptcy in recent history, court records show.
Corporate is encouraging customers to call 877-POSITIVE and says they plan to contact clients once they figure out what is going on.
On Thursday, KREM2 reports there was an eviction notice posted on the front door of the Spokane Positive Changes office.
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