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9Wants to Know: Furniture business accused of taking deposits, not delivering

10:23 PM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - A 9Wants to Know undercover investigation exposes a furniture company accused of taking deposits and failing to deliver furniture.

The manager is captured on camera breaking verbal promises while threatening to call police on a customer who was trying to get a refund.

"I didn't realize that buying furniture would be this dramatic," Ann McGraw said. "It's been a headache."

A Red Chair, near West 53rd Place and Interstate 25, currently has an "F" rating with the Denver Better Business Bureau because of too many complaints about delivery issues. In many of the BBB complaint responses, managers for A Red Chair blame shipping delays on the manufacturer.

9Wants to Know also found three pending lawsuits filed by customers who claim they gave A Red Chair thousands in deposits, but never received their furniture.

"Probably the worst shopping experience that I've dealt with," customer Jose Trevizo said. "The way they put you off."

An undercover visit with a customer

9Wants to Know producers, while wearing a hidden camera, followed customers into A Red Chair as they inquired about their furniture and missing furniture.

All the customers who spoke to 9Wants to Know claimed the store verbally promised a two-and-a-half week delivery time. Customers who contacted 9Wants to Know claim furniture was either never delivered or delivery was delayed for months.

Ron Smith, who claims to be a sales manager for A Red Chair, is often heard on camera telling customers shipping delays are the manufacturer's fault.

After waiting weeks for a bed, 9Wants to Know followed Ann McGraw of Denver into the shop on a Friday. During that visit Smith said, "It will be here today or I'm just refunding you, because I don't want to deal with the hassle."

Three days later 9Wants to Know followed McGraw back into the store. When she demanded a refund, Smith is captured on camera refusing to pay her a refund and then kicking her out of the store while threatening to call police.

"If you want to take it to court, you can take it to court. There will be no refund. Trucks [are] delayed. You signed a contract showing there can be delays in shipping," Smith told McGraw.

Eventually McGraw's bed was delivered, but only three days after Smith said it would arrive.

According to McGraw, the bed arrived a month late after she complained and demanded a refund.

Numerous police calls to A Red Chair

9Wants to Know found police responded to A Red Chair 10 times over the past 9 months in order to settle customer disputes. Either Ron Smith calls police on his own customers or vice-versa. Dispatch records show several of the disputes involved angry and "irate" customers who told police they put down deposits but never received their furniture.

Name change?

Robert Brownlee II, who claims to be a "member" of A Red Chair, refused to acknowledge his family's prior business known as the The Home Furnishing Company.

The Home Furnishing Company operated in the same warehouse but went out of business sometime in 2013.

Soon after The Home Furnishing Company closed down, A Red Chair opened up shop in the same warehouse and with some of the same employees, including Ron Smith.

BBB records indicate The Home Furnishing Company racked up similar delivery complaints.

Brownlee wouldn't acknowledge exactly what his role is with A Red Chair or with The Home Furnishing Company and would only refer to himself as a "member."

The Contract

The contract customers sign with A Red Chair does say "Seller shall not be responsible for delays in delivery of merchandise occasioned by manufacturer's scheduling...."

9News Legal Analyst Scott Robinson says such a contract does not protect the consumer's deposit but protects the seller as long as the business claims delays are the manufacturer's fault.

Unless the customer gets a delivery date in writing, a verbal promise doesn't mean anything Robinson said. "Otherwise the seller could take all the time they want."

A Red Chair's Explanation

Robert Brownlee II told 9Wants to Know that complaining customers are in the minority and that "we take care of everyone 100 percent."

On the night of this publication, Brownlee took to the 9News Facebook page and said, "..we have had over 2,000 happy customers the last 9 month [sic] but we had a couple of hick ups [sic] that we are correcting."

"I guess The News Has to create fake news because they cant [sic] find real news," Brownlee added.

What can customers do?

Since this publication, several more customers from A Red Chair have reached out to 9NEWS for help on what they can do about their deposits.

If you paid cash, there isn't much you can do to get your money back unless A Red Chair gives up the cash or if you reach an agreement with the company over a product.

If you paid with a credit card or debit card you could try to reverse the charge with your bank.

If you signed a contract with A Red Chair and you still don't have your furniture, you may have a hard time proving the manufacture really is at fault for delays, according to 9News Legal Analyst Scott Robinson.

For more on your rights when it comes to deposits, you can read more here through the BBB's website.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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