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Quinceañera dress controversy: Former customers blame Southside dress maker for party nightmares

Quinceanera dress controversy
Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 23, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Three large portraits hang in Roxanne Contreras's Tucson home. One pictures her and her two kids. The others are just of her daughter, Melina.

All of them were taken for Melina's quinceañera — a celebration popular in Mexican and other Latin American cultures. It honors the birthday girl who turns 15, a marker for entering womanhood.

It's an event that takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to plan, families told KGUN 9.

“It’s kind of like a mini-wedding," Contreras joked.

But she didn't expect the quinceañera to cause her to shed as many tears as she did throughout the process.

Contreras said there's one Southside business owner to blame: Roxana Morales, owner of Elegance Creations — a custom quinceañera dress store at 5101 South 12th Avenue.

Contreras went to the business with her mom and sister Jasmine Peralta, who also had a daughter turning 15 soon, back in May of 2023. The quinceañeras were scheduled for the upcoming December and February months.

She said Morales gave the family the deal of a lifetime, but she said she now knows it was too good to be true.

The combined contract stated that they should receive:

  • Two quince dresses
  • Two pillows
  • Two crowns
  • Four cups
  • Two cake knives
  • Two bouquets
  • One doll
  • One bear
  • Dresses for mothers, grandmother

All of that for the price of $3,500.
“[It was] pretty much all downhill from there.”

Contreras said when it came time to schedule fittings and see the progress on the dress, she couldn't seem to meet with Morales, who gave her a long list of cancellation excuses.

Morales had said she was out of town on multiple occasions, she got in a car accident, then her sister was in a car accident, she was sick three times, her husband worked late, and she had a funeral to attend, according to Contreras.

“I was so stressed and overwhelmed and in tears that the dress wasn’t going to come,” Contreras recalled.

Morales delivered the dress the night before the big party.

“My daughter still loved it, but the stresses that came along with it and not being able to correct and fix what she needed to fix [were too much]," she said. "And thank God it fit for her very first trying.”

The late delivery wasn't the only problem with the order.

The dress's sleeves were supposed to be long but only fit three-quarters of the way down Melina's arm. The Contreras family also had to buy a hoop for underneath the skirt to give it additional volume.

Plus, they hadn't received most of the other items listed on the contract.

Morales was also late on Peralta's deadline. She said after seeing her sister's and niece's party mishaps, she wasn't going to take any more chances on Morales.

Peralta requested a refund, something she had to use the legal system to get.

“I didn’t want the same thing to happen to us because planning a party is already stressful enough," she explained. "And then having that stress on top of it, it was just not going to work for me.”

KGUN 9 reached out to Morales to get her side of the story.

“How long is the contract on average?" reporter Mikenzie Hammel asked.

"I usually have it ready two or one month before the event. I cannot guarantee a date because it is a custom-made dress,” Morales replied.

She went on to explain that this kind of delay is not normal for her. Morales said she just had a lot going on at the time.

“I did turn in the dress the day before, which is not the right thing to do, I know. We both agree on that, okay?”

Fidelia Pulido originally did business with Morales in 2022 but had to postpone her daughter's quinceañera for personal reasons. She returned the next year about three months before the party.

Morales said she wasn’t sure she could make a gown in time, but she’d try.

The dress she ended up offering Pulido was worn before. She also gave it to her the day before the party.

“She showed me a dress that was too big, ripped and dirty. So my daughter’s face was..." Pulido said through tears. "It was one day before the event. How do they think I’m going to present my daughter in that dress?”

Pulido said she paid a family member to buy an entirely new dress the same day, and it came at a higher price being so last-minute.

“So you’re saying even though this is a binding contract for the customer, it’s not a binding contract for you?" Hammel asked Morales.

"I always tell the customer that we cannot guarantee a specific date, that’s why I don’t put a specific date on there," Morales said.

"If there are any delays or anything, I always explain to the customer. I will let them know. It’s just as long as we have it ready at least one month prior to the event.”

Another woman KGUN 9 talked to said she ordered a wedding dress for her daughter from Elegance Creations, and it was delivered in what she said was a dirty bag.

“I mean the dress is nothing at all to the dress that was ordered," she said pointing to reference photos. “To this day, she hates her wedding pictures.”

Many of these upset customers have put their complaints on social media.

“Just because I messed up on three, four dresses, Mikenzie, they’re burning me like this?" Morales questioned. "Come on.”

Morales said she has since changed the format of her contracts to be more strict about dates — including how far out she can accept orders, and how long she has to complete them.

Peralta, who requested a refund before her daughter's party, said Morales wouldn't give the family their money for the incomplete order, so she took her to court.

A Pima County judge ruled Morales will have to pay back the family the full $3,500.

“It’s not gonna happen anymore," Morales insisted. "This is a well-lesson learned for me too, believe me, as a business owner. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I’m not here to do that.”
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If you have questions or concerns about a business or the product you received, here are some resources to look into:

- Pima County Attorney Consumer Fraud Complaints
- Arizona Attorney General Consumer Complaints
- Better Business Bureau Complaints

Mikenzie Hammel joined the KGUN 9 team as a multimedia journalist in the summer of 2023. She graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. With her passion for human connection and visual storytelling, Mikenzie is honored to share the stories of Tucson and southeastern Arizona. Share your story ideas and important issues with Mikenzie by emailing mikenzie.hammel@kgun9.com.