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.
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:
- File a complaint with Etsy. (Etsy took the shops offline, but says since you paid through PayPal, you should file your complaint there.
- 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).
- 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:
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.