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Online purchase frustrates local couple

June 29, 2010 7:07:06 PM PDT
If you're like millions of consumers, you're probably doing at least some shopping online. So, what if you don't get what you paid for? One Bay Area couple found themselves in that exact situation.

The San Mateo couple paid more than $1,000 for a customized order and then received no merchandise and there was no store to return to.

Polly and Terry Flinn rent out their Lake Tahoe cabin for vacation getaways. As with lots of rental units, the furniture there takes quite a beating.

"Our housekeeper was horrified to report to us one day, 'I was cleaning and I found a pizza slice,'" Polly said.

Their off-white upholstery was impossible to keep clean, but Polly found an ideal solution: slip covers.

"A truffle color, sort of like a light milk chocolate, very nice and very hardy," she said.

The Flinns ordered custom made slip covers from an online company called Todo Es of Laguna Hills.

All they had to do was choose a fabric and send in the exact measurements of each piece. The company promised covers that would fit like a glove within six weeks.

There was only one drawback.

"I didn't like that we had to pay in full up front, so I suggested a down payment," Polly said.

However, the company had been recommended by friends, so the Flinns went ahead and paid the full $1,040 up front.

"And then we heard nothing. I called and left a cheery message and we didn't get anything back," Polly said.

That was back in April 2009. The slip covers never arrived and Polly kept calling the company wondering where they were. Finally, someone at Todo Es gave her the news.

"I didn't want to alarm you, due to the economy we've moved to Texas," Polly said.

"It was sort of frustrating that this sort of just dragged on, and on, and on and on," Terry said.

"We regret to tell you this but it's going to be a while longer," Polly said.

A while turned into months, Christmas passed, the new year arrived, finally and the company told Polly it no longer had the right fabric. It offered to mix two materials instead.

"I wrote back and said please refund our money this isn't at all acceptable," Polly said.

After waiting more than a year for the slip covers, they'd lost all hope for getting furniture covers or a refund.

"I'm feeling just sick about the loss of the money," Polly said.

"It turned into a nightmare, something you were always following up on," Terry said.

"I had seen Michael on the evening news and I thought, 'I need you,'" Polly said.

Polly contacted 7 On Your Side and we called Todo Es. The company got back with us right away and it said, "We sincerely regret that we were not able to fill Ms. Flinn's order, but unfortunately we have had a problem with the fabric that she selected for her custom slipcover."

Todo Es promised a full refund and within days, $1,040 was returned.

"We're so glad to see some resolution here after over a year dealing with it," Terry said.

"Very, very grateful to you because I felt most helpless," Polly said.

Paying full price up front is always risky. It's a good idea to insist on making only a down payment.

If you don't receive your merchandise, try filing a dispute with your credit card company. However, you must do that within 60 days of purchase and as with the Flinns, often that time runs out.


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