Fighting furniture stores in cyberspace

Seven On Your Side
NEW YORK Laben Bell says he's received alibi's - but no refund from his on-line furniture store.

"(I) don't have the furniture." Laben said "They have my money."

Laben's talking about, an online furniture store. Last fall he paid it more than $2400 a bedroom set. But days after his account was debited, he found a better price at a competitor. So he canceled the order.

"I was due a refund." Laben said. "And then months went by and every month they keep 'well, next month, next month' and here we are."

Now Laben can't afford another bedroom set.

But good luck tracking down They told Laben they're out of business. Does Laben believe it?

"No, not at all," he said.

In fact 7 On Your Side found another online company, called sharing the same mail drop. Laben says they also had the very same customer service representatives.

According to it's website the home of shop smart furniture is located in a White Plains office building. But the two times 7 On Your Side visited. Each time, Tappy Phillips found nobody there.

Eyewitness News did find at yet another address in Brooklyn. Tappy climbed the stairs to their second story office. An attendant answered the door but denied knowing anything about or any furniture company.

But the downstairs a neighboring businessman told us that WAS the home of So Tappy went back. This time, the attendant wouldn't answer the door.

"Why do you to lie about who you are? What are you hiding from?" Tappy said outside the furniture company's door.

Fortunately, 7 On Your Side did get in touch with the attorney who promised to look into this story and get Laben a full refund.

When buying furniture, be aware that state laws apply to on-line merchants as well as physical stores.

"Be very reluctant to buy something like furniture online." Gary Brown, Westchester Department of Consumer Affairs, said. "Because i want to sit on that couch or lie on that bed and know that I'm comfortable and know that i like it."

Also - always pay for furniture by credit card. Gary said, "You don't want to write a check to a store and when you call to ask, 'Where is my delivery' (then) you get, 'The number has been disconnected message.'"

For more information on what your rights are when buing furniture online or in brick and mortar stores, go to:

STORY BY: Eyewitness News 7 On Your Side reporter Tappy Phillips
WEB PRODUCED BY: Steve Livingstone

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