Jerry and Wendy Berggran used to have a hot tub in the back yard of their Walnut Creek home. The tub was getting old, so Wendy decided after several nice evenings of putting it to use, it was time to surprise Jerry with a brand new one.
Wendy ordered a new tub online from a store called "Direct to Home Appliances," which is based in San Francisco.
"I was going to have the mood lighting put in, a waterfall (and) pop-up speakers," she said.
After Wendy paid $4,096 in cash up front last August and received an estimated delivery date of early December, Jerry went ahead and tore out the old spa to make room.
"We had to cut it out with a saw in sections," she said.
The couple spent two days hauling chunks in a wheelbarrow, then they waited for the new spa to arrive. Except, it didn't.
"They sent me an email saying it would be delayed," Wendy said.
Direct to Home told the couple they'd have to wait another two weeks, but that didn't happen either. There was a delay in delivery of their new spa until February. Then March. Then April.
"I'm getting a little disturbed by now, I'm feeling, because the excuses had been the same," Wendy said.
June is here, but the spa is still not there. Wendy is now demanding a refund.
"I said, 'I don't believe anything you say anymore,' and he said, 'You can't have your money back,' and I said 'Yes I can have my money back.'" Wendy said.
"Had we known this was going to happen, we wouldn't have taken out the tub that was in there, that was usable," said Jerry.
Two more complaints about the same company were also sent in to 7 On Your Side. Cora Harris of Southern California and James Pretorius of Mendocino County said they, too, paid Direct to Home thousands of dollars and never received the spas they were promised.
As it turns out, Direct to Home -- which previously did business as a website called ChooseHotTubsDirect.com -- has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau. Most of the 251 complaints the BBB has received about the company came over the past year.
Company owner Steve Barbarich didn't want to speak on camera when ABC7 went to his San Francisco company offices, but he did tell 7 On Your Side that he did not intend to take money from customers without delivering the spas. The company has been struggling financially, he said, and two banks unfairly confiscated company funds.
Barbarich produced documents claiming the Berggran's spa was on its way, but the documents describe what could be any spa.
"We feel it's a game that's being played," Jerry said. "Our money's being used."
Barbarich tells 7 On Your Side that the Berggran's spa will be delivered at some point in July. As for the other two customers, Barbarich says Pretorius' spa will be delivered "soon" and Harris' money will be refunded over time.