(WSPA) – When you are buying a big-ticket item like furniture, it involves trust.
You trust that when you put down money, you’ll get your product or your money back.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
7NEWS Here to Help looked into the steps you should take to avoid furniture fraud.
Back in February, Kia Knox paid in full for a dining room set, but weeks later when the delivery date came and went, she had a bad feeling.
“I kept calling and I was like something is wrong, so I said let me drive up there. Drive up and I see the entire store is like it never existed,” Knox said. “The sign was down, there’s not a piece of furniture in, there’s not a note on the door, there’s a lock box on the door and I’m just in shock.”
The Inman homeowner had paid $2,349 to Creative Home Furnishings in Simpsonville, with nothing to show for it.
So, she called Liberty Furniture, the manufacturer of the set she ordered.
“And they said that business hasn’t ordered a dining room table in two years…I thought, OK, I’ve just been scammed,” according to Knox.
Heather Johns went through a similar nightmare last year with a furniture company called Southern Age Gypsi in Greenville.
Months went by and Johns said she was done with the owner’s excuses, so she took to social media.
“Then people started messaging me, hey they did this to me, too. So, by the end of that day, I probably had 13 victims who were out of a lot more money than I was with no product,” Johns said.
Vee Daniel, the President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Upstate, said they tried to find a resolution for a dozen complaints about Southern Age Gypsi, but they went unanswered.
“The pattern is, they are basically all complaining that they have not received the refund,” according to Daniel.
“They did change their name and started another Facebook page, but as soon as people realized it and especially people that they owed money to, basically they shut the Facebook page down,” she explained.
7NEWS reached out to both Southern Age Gypsi and Carolina Home Furnishings, and both owners declined to comment.
However, they did confirm both stores are currently closed.
Steps to protect yourself
One of the best ways to protect yourself if you are buying an item that you can’t take home with you right away is to use a credit card.
That way if that item never arrives you can dispute the charge, and during that time your funds are usually restored, unlike banks.
Rashaad Flucker, with Unclaimed Furniture, also advises customers to always request a “terms and conditions” document if one is not provided.
He said that the signed document should contain: “The timeframe of when the furniture is going to come. A refund policy, can you cancel? Delivery information of when they come and the timeframes they come to your home.”
Also, Flucker said do not pay more than “half” up front.
Johns’ fight on social media and eventually at the sheriff’s office paid off.
“I don’t think she expected me to go as far as I did. The breaking thing for me was when I went public on Facebook and found out there were so many other victims,” Johns said.
Southern Age Gypsi’s owner told 7NEWS all the money has been paid back to all clients who did not get their furniture.
Johns confirmed she got her money back and knows several other clients who did, too.
Meanwhile Knox, who paid in full, has been disputing the charge with her bank for months, but 7NEWS spoke with the owner of Creative Home Furnishings who said they are also trying to get her money back.
We will update this story if that happens.
As Knox waits, she is grateful she found the exact same dining room set for a better price at another Upstate store.
“Got it delivered a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t be happier with it, and I got a great deal so even better, so it turned out great,” Knox said.