7 On Your Side chases down broker's fee

Seven On Your Side
February 3, 2012 9:29:31 PM PST
It should've been the easiest of stories. It was a simple request to an upscale real estate company: Please give back a broker fee owed to a Brooklyn mom.

Sometimes it takes persistence and a pair of running shoes to get someone's money back.

"Are you really going to make me chase you all over Manhattan?" Nina Pineda of 7 On Your Side said, "We will wait outside your office every day. It's $3,000. You have a major real estate company. Where is Maureen Sullivan's broker fee?"

His name is Tom Ripellino.

More than 30 years ago, he founded Metropolis Real Estate of Manhattan.

The company's cyber sales pitch stresses integrity and professionalism, but one woman disagrees.

"I just feel like we were robbed," said Maureen Sullivan, Metropolitan Real Estate Customer.

She had a rude welcome to the Big Apple.

Maureen Sullivan recently moved her family from San Francisco to Brooklyn and enrolled her son at a school in Prospect Park.

She paid Metropolis $3,000 to find her an apartment close by, but before signing the lease there were problems with the apartment.

"We looked at it and said 'Whoa, what's up?' Because they hadn't painted and they hadn't cleaned," Sullivan said.

When she complained about the apartment's condition the landlord wouldn't help.

According to the contract, if the landlord cancels, Metropolis must refund the broker fee.

But after a barrage of calls, no money ever came.

"It is something that has honestly kept me up at night because I can't believe that we were so taken advantage of," Sullivan said.

So, 7 On Your Side started calling, and emailing, and going to the Lexington Avenue office with no response.

"I don't have the words for it, but it's something that I cannot let rest," Sullivan said.

7 On Your Side agreed that's why Nina Pineda camped outside Metropolis' headquarters until its owner finally came out.

"Tom, could you just answer this question about Maureen Sullivan's down payment?" Pineda asked.

The broker never said a word, darting into the street to avoid 7 On Your Side.

"Tom, I will chase you all over town, now you're in traffic!" Pineda said, "Tom, are you kidding me? We're talking about one client with a $3,000 broker fee? And I'm going to chase you through the streets of Manhattan during traffic?"

But just hours after Ripellino ducked into a nearby bank, the broker finally called.

"I have made arrangements for a full refund," Ripellino said in a voicemail message.

Just a day later, Maureen had a bank check for a full refund.

"You guys came to my rescue. It was completely amazing to me. I mean I am indebted beyond words," Sullivan said.


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