7 On Your Side goes after delinquent tailor after BBB asks for help

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Friday, September 18, 2015
7 On Your Side: Better Business Bureau
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NEW YORK (WABC) -- When the Better Business Bureau reaches out to 7 On Your Side, you know there's a serious problem.

This one involved a custom clothing maker who wasn't delivering, and after the BBB got no response on a spike of complaints it is investigating from customers who say they're out anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, they asked asked Nina Pineda to get involved.

So we set out to track the tailor down.

Michael Safir is one of the victims of Clifton Barry, whose company -- custom suit and shirt maker Clifton Charles -- made him a suit and sport coat but has yet to deliver on three three shirts in his order.

"He makes a nice product if he actually delivers," Michael Safir said. "It was about $2,000, I (paid up front)."

That was last fall, and by spring, Safir said he couldn't get an answer on where his garments were.

"His website says New York City's premier bespoke tailor, and he's not delivering on his orders," Safir said. "I finally gave him the ultimatum, 'I've been trying to get in contact with you, I'm giving you a deadline. I don't want to make this a legal matter.'"

But still without his shirts this summer, Safir filed a complaint against Clifton Berry and the company, and won a default judgment for more than $600.

"I said, 'Are you aware I won a judgement? Are you aware you have a lot of upset customers?'" Safir said. "And he said yes, he's aware. He had problems with his business partner, and hopefully he's going to resolve everything."

But when nothing got resolved, Safir filed a complaint with the BBB and learned he wasn't alone. Files indicate a pattern of complaints and missing merchandise from Clifton Charles, and the company earned an F rating.

"We all of a sudden got a spike of complaints saying people ordered things and just didn't get them, and could not get either a new delivery date or to get their money back," BBB president and CEO Claire Rosenzweig said.

Customer Jonathan Thomas complained to the BBB, out more than $800 for suits and unable to reach anyone.

"We couldn't get a response," he said. "And, in fact, our mail has been returned."

When we tried to track the tailor down at his office, the property manager said the suit maker split with no forwarding address. When we reached him by phone, he claimed to have all the custom-made garments his clients were looking for.

The much talked-about tailor said some customers mistakenly fell through the cracks and that he's trying to make unhappy customers whole. He then sent $100 each via Venmo to Thomas and Safir with a promise to pay their balance as soon as possible.

The the big takeaway is that when ordering anything custom made, check current customer reviews, get details on the delivery date and cancellation policy in writing, and don't pay in full up front.