Archive for January, 2011

Duped by a Discount Store
January 31, 2011

Just a lesson not to assume that just because you find a product at a discount store that you’re getting a good deal…
I recently tried a new hair product I got with a free coupon at Beauty Brands. I liked the “Matrix Thicklift liquid Volumizer” and I was almost out… so when I saw the product at Loehmann’s this weekend, I snatched it up.

It wasn’t until I got home, that I noticed something strange on the price tag. Do you see it?

To add insult to injury, when I looked at the cost of the original bottle (that I got for free) from a non-discount store, I noticed it was less expensive than the bottle I got at Loehmann’s!

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“Just Desserts” with the San Jacinto Girl Scouts
January 30, 2011

Thursday night I got to help with one of my favorite events- the San Jacinto Girl Scout Councils’ “Just Desserts” annual fundraiser.
Eight celebrity chefs from around Houston faced off in a pallet-pleasing competition at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. The challenge? Create an original dessert using a common ingredient: Girl Scout cookies.

I was paired with 10-year-old girl scout Rachael Riley of Vidor Troop #3497 to help judge the entries. Tough work- especially for a pregnant woman who craves sweets 24/7!

Only Girl Scouts who sell more than 1,000 boxes of cookies are invited to the exclusive event. Riley sold 1,644 last year. This year, she’s at 358 boxes, but she plans to beat her number from last year. So if you see her (or any Girl Scout for that matter), buy a box or 2.

My favorite creation was from Chef LJ Wiley. He made granola out of Shortbread Cookies. It could be breakfast, dessert or a snack anytime. Good stuff!

Problem Etsy Vendor
January 24, 2011

Sunday night, we showed you problems moms across the country are having with an Etsy seller going by the name of Customhouse Baby & Babylovin Bedding.

You can watch our 2-part story by clicking here.

A lot of you wanted even more specific advice than what we had time to provide to the masses via our broadcast. I contacted consumer attorney David Tiede, Director of the Texas Consumer Complaint Center at the University of Houston Center for Consumer Law to ask what recourse you might have if you lost money to either one of these vendors.

First, the obvious recommendations that most of you have already tried:

  1. File a complaint with Etsy. (Etsy took the shops offline, but says since you paid through PayPal, you should file your complaint there.
  2. File a complaint with PayPal. (PayPal has a 45-day window that allows you to file complaints and get a refund if you didn’t receive what you ordered. Most of you were past that window before you realized you wouldn’t get your bedding).
  3. File a complaint with your credit or bank card if you used one for payment through PayPal. (Most credit cards give you 2 billing cycles or 60 days to file a complaint about non-receipt of goods).

If you’ve exhausted all of the options, here is Tiede’s advice:

The problem with a bad out-of-state retailer is that it is usually pretty hard to get anything from them without suing them in their home state, because that is usually where you can get at their money. 

 Here, if you have 24 women, who are collectively out more than $10K, they might want to get together and hire an attorney at a reasonable hourly rate to sue in state district court in Vermont, assuming that the defendant has some funds and is not totally out of business.  That could be tough, because they would have to be organized and all pitch in to hire an attorney.

 At the very least, they should also all file complaints with the Vermont AG, and perhaps even the local district attorney.  Given the number of people who have been wronged, that might be a free way to get them some justice, and might get the retailer’s attention quickly, assuming that this person is even “semi-legitimate” or not totally bankrupt.

Majorie Loux was living in Boston when she took most orders for Customhouse Baby. Then, it appears she moved to Newport, Vermont and set up Babylovin Bedding.

Her address in Vermont (that she gave me when I inquired about having her make some bedding with fabric I had purchased) is:

Bernadette Woods
153 Main ST. #4
Newport VT 05855

My next question for Tiede was- “what about small claims court when the victims live in one state and the seller lives in another?”  

Yes, you can file across state lines, but the problem is that you will have to go to Vermont to appear at trial eventually, and the economics of that will not work out for most here.  Smaller risk is each person filing against this person in their local small claims court (on the basis that the transaction took place where delivery was to have taken place), and then filing the judgment in Vermont to get “sister state” recognition.  Here again, some organization would be needed, but an idea is that they each get their own state small claims court judgments, and then negotiate with one local Vermont collections lawyer to file all the judgments in Vermont for execution.     

I hope this helps you. If not, thank you for helping me educate others about the risks of ordering through Etsy and using PayPal.