Jeff Z's Story

Late November, 2007
Looking for a drug rehab for my son, I found Narconon Stone Hawk on the web, and contacted the owner, Per Wickstrom. My wife and I don't have a lot of money; we couldn't afford Narconon's steep price. But Per had a solution: he took our financial information, and submitted credit card applications for us with Discover Card, Chase, and Bank of America (for an American Express card). Discover Card turned us down, but we got a $20,000 line of credit from Bank of America. This was just enough to cover the combined cost of Narconon plus another company that works with them, Intervention Services and Technologies. The $20K total is less than what Narconon normally charges, but it was all the credit card company would loan us, and Per was willing to take what he could get.

December 28, 2007
On December 2 we took our son to Narconon Stone Hawk in Albion Michigan, at 12:30pm. He called on Dec. 5 and begged me to please look more closely at this place. He told me to look on Google. I told him I would. By 3:00 am on December 6th we were on our way to pick him up from Stone Hawk.

The conditions at Battle Creek were bad. Chris said that there were dead bugs in his bottom drawer. He had to kill a few spiders. Since he only spent one night there after his detox was completed, he can't say much about the later starges of the program, such as the sauna, but he remembers that the food looked and tasted terrible. It was cold; they left it out all day. As soon as we got him out of there we stopped for something to eat because he had eaten very little while he was there.

He also said that the facility was not kept up. The carpet had cigarette burns and was filthy and needed to be replaced. The staff were all ex-druggies; some of them looked like they were still using drugs. The students talked about Scientology and drugs. He acted like he was happy to be there because he was afraid of what might happen to him if he let them know how he really felt.

I have been trying to get some answers for how they are going to handle this. I spoke with Jai (he has since resigned from the company as of December 19), Michelle Darrell (Per Wicksrom's assistant), Sean Kelty (my son's intake person), Kristene, and now Eric (Jai's replacement). Everyone keeps giving us the run-around; no one will return our calls.

I had spoken with Eric last Thursday December 20th. He said he would have to look into it and call me back. I called him back after an hour he said he would send our $500.00 for medical and $40.00 student account money in the mail that day. Now over a week has passed and no check. So I called Eric today. His secretary, said Michelle Darrell takes care of that. I called Michelle. After leaving a message and being very persistent, I finally got to talk to her. She said, she needed us to fill out a release form and have it notarized.She was supposed to e-mail it, but I have not got that either. I tried to call Eric back and his secretary said he was not accepting phone calls until further notice.

I called back after about 10 min. and talked to Michelle again. She said that she would send the $540.00 check today. But she told me that Stone Hawk would refund all but $15,900.00. Technically, Chris did not start the program. He only went through 3 days at de-tox and spent part of 1 night at the Battle Creek facility. How can they justify this? If they care about people as they say they do (and I stated this to Michelle), why would they keep our money that we need to help Chris?



This letter is in reference to Christopher Z. He arrived at the Albion MI facility on 12/2/07 at about 11:30 am. On the morning of 12/5/07 my wife and I picked Chris up at the Battle Creek, MI facility. Chris at that time had only been to de-tox and had not started any class or sauna treatments.

I know that we signed the contract stating that the program is non refundable, but we should have educated ourselves a little more before we took this step to help our son.

The reason I am writing this is to ask you to consider refunding our money. Please keep reading. We put ourselves in a huge financial bind when we did this, but from what we were told, it would be worth the effort and this program was the best thing for Chris. As we learned more about the program, we decided that this was not the treatment we wanted for Chris. I know you don't call it Scientology, but from what we gathered it is. This goes against our beliefs and up-bringing and we don't want this forced on Chris. We didn't know enough about the program before we brought Chris to you. We made a mistake.

I did not write this to bash your program. I'm sure that your program can help some people and that you have had some success with it. We just feel this is not the right thing for our son.

We can't understand how you can justify keeping the entire amount of the program when Chris was there less than 4 days and had not technically started the program. We haven't been able to talk much with anyone and haven't had our calls returned when we leave messages. We have tried many times.

If you decide to not refund our money, we will have no other resources to get Chris the help he desperately needs. We need this money.

You are in the business of caring for people. Please understand where we are coming from and consider our request.


Jeff Z

January 14, 2008
Per Wickstrom called Saturday in response to the letter I sent him asking for a refund. We weren't home at the time and he left a message that I was welcome to call him back. Today I called while on my lunch break.

He started off defending his program. I had mentioned the Scientology practices in my letter, and he tried to make it clear that they do not use Scientology. I told him that we did some research and found some things that scared us. His response to that was "do you believe everything you see on the internet?" He went on and suggested I "look at the Catholic religion. They are all pedifiles. Don't you agree that you would not go to another Catholic Church after reading this?" I replied with "no because I know that they are not all that way". We went back and forth for about 10 min. Then I mentioned the Vince Daniels radio program. He asked if I had talked to Vince. He said Vince was fired for falsifying information on the Internet. I don't know if this is true or not, but he became more argumentative from this point on.

A lot more was said, but it was mainly Per defending his position as a "business man" and what would I do if I were in his postion. He also kept bringing up the contract that we signed. He stated that according to the contract, he doesn't owe us a penny. I aggreed with that, but since Chris was only there for less than 4 days I didn't feel he could justify keeping all the money. His response was that "he has an open bed for Chris, and he has alot of money invested for Chris. When Chris slips and starts using again, we can bring him back and put him back in the program and pay the remaining $15,000". I wanted to laugh. I told him that Chris would not come back there.

In the end Per said he may be willing to give us something back to "help the hurt". He said "I'm not going to give you $10,000 though". He suggested I think about an amount that I feel is fair and call him back.

Is there anyone higher up than Per? Because he said that he doesn't have the final say in this. I don't want to call him back with a dollar amount and shoot myself in the foot so to speak. I don't guess his idea for a fair amount and mine would be the same.

Tomorrow I am going to call [Pennfield Township Treaurer and Narconon advisory board member] Barb Phillips and see what she has to say.

January 15, 2008
I called Barb Phillips today. She is still on the advisory board for Narconon in Battle Creek. She said that her role is to enforce the codes for their Conditional Use Permit. This requires them to maintain the property, and not let "students" roam around the neighborhood unsupervised. Basically the business should not affect the surrounding comunity in a negative way. She has no involvement with the business end of Narconon. She also said that one of their requirements is to keep in contact with her. She said she has sent several e-mails over the past few weeks to Jai and has recieved no replies. I informed her that Jai has resigned his position at Narconon. She was surprised at this. She said the last she knew, he was a happy little camper there.

She did not know why they could not give us a refund. Again she has no involvement with the business end. Her only advice was that we would probably need to hire an attorney. She then asked what happened there. I told her a little about our experience. I pointed her to the web site. She seemed shocked to hear what was going on there. She was very interested and said she would definitely take the time to look at the web site I poiinted out to her. I informed her that there are many more web sites with peoples' bad experiences for her to look at. She also told me she would bring this to the attention of her supervisor. She asked if she could get my name and number so she could call me if she found any help. I did not give her this information. I told her I didn't feel comfortable enough yet because we were in the early stage of this battle, and I don't want to compromise whatever ground we have gained. I did however let her know I would stay in contact with her.

We contacted the credit card company and started dispute proceedings against. the charge made by Narconon. I don't know if this was the right thing to do or not... The day that we picked up Chris at Narconon, George Knight (who is the guy that came to our house for the intervention) called. He asked how Chris was doing at Narconon. I told him we picked him up this morning. I told him what happened. He asked where we got the information that made us go get him. I told him and he asked what the web sites were and siad he would look at them. In the meantime he asked if I wouldn't mind talking to his supervisor Owen because he knows other places we could take Chris. I agreed. Later Owen called me and asked me what happened. I told him but he would not let me elaborate about what we saw on the Internet. Whenever I tried he cut me off. He told me about a place called XXX in Arizona. I told him that while our money was tied up at Narconon we would not be able to send Chris anywhere. I have not researched the XXX facility. I know we would not be able to get Chris to go anyway.

By the way, Chris is doing well and staying clean.

January 24, 2008
I have received a form from the bank to dispute the Narconon charge. I wrote the letter they asked for and am going to mail it tomorrow. I'm also filing fraud complaints with the Attorney General's office in both my home state and the state of Michigan, and I plan to contact the Michigan Department of Community Health to file a complaint with them as well.

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Last modified: Mon Feb 4 02:34:29 EST 2008