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Buyer of 'oversold' furniture is overjoyed by refund

Q: I am having trouble getting a $645.84 refund from American Freight, a furniture warehouse on Niagara Falls Boulevard in North Tonawanda.

I bought a sofa and love seat from the store on Oct. 29 and wrote a check for the full amount, which was promptly cashed. Delivery was set up for Dec. 5. I took the day off work and waited. My husband and I had thrown out our old furniture so the living room was empty. By the afternoon, I called the company and found out that their computers were down so they couldn't make any deliveries.

I was told to call back on that Friday, which I did. I was then told that the computers had just come up and when I gave him my receipt number, I was told to call back and speak with the manager, Jason Bukowski.

On Dec. 9, I was told the furniture was discontinued. I became angry that I was not notified of that in a month and a half. I was told I could pick out something else close to what we had selected, or get a refund.

We decided to go with the refund and went into the store on Dec. 10. The manager gave us a receipt for the refund of $645.84 and were told the check had to come from the parent company in Ohio and it should come in a few weeks.

It's now over one month, and I still have not received my refund check. I need to pay bills that are falling behind because I had to put forth money for new furniture that was more expensive to replace an empty living room for the holidays.

Could you help me get my full refund check? I just want my money.

-- Debby Williams, Tonawanda.

A: It should never be this hard to get your money back for furniture that was never delivered.

We first contacted American Freight's corporate offices in Ohio and were assured on Tuesday that the company would cut a refund check and overnight it to your home within a day or two.

It still isn't clear how the refund delay occurred. "Unfortunately, it looks like it was done on the computer system from the store," said Stephanie D., who identified herself as working in the company's accounts payable corporate office. She refused to give us her last name. "The store processed the refund for the company check, but between then and now, it never got to me."

Hmmm . . . We found the explanation fuzzy, since when we mentioned your name and receipt number, she immediately located a record of your account and the amount owed. Nevertheless, Stephanie vowed to place your account on the check-paying schedule for Wednesday and then mail it to you.

"I apologize. It does happen," she said. "We'll send the check directly to her home. I'll overnight it to her in a day or two."

We also called Bukowski, the local store manager. We mentioned the outstanding refund. "That's news to me," he said. "I thought she got refunded."

We informed him that was not the case. He checked his records and noted an updated note from corporate offices earlier that day that indicated your refund would be mailed to you.

We asked him what took so long in the first place. "Maybe a glitch in our computer system between Western New York and Ohio," Bukowski said. "She wrote us a personal check. That's why we needed to write her a refund check."

"I wish she would have contacted me first," he said. "We don't steal money from people. It would have been refunded."

We also wanted to know why the customer wasn't notified earlier about the discontinued furniture. "The vendor ran out of fabric," he said. "We oversold, like other retailers did."

He said customers were offered to select other furniture or could opt for a refund.

Your refund for the full amount, which was dated Thursday, finally arrived at your home on Saturday.

Have a consumer problem? Send a letter summarizing your problem to News Power, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Attention: Karen Robinson. Please include a phone number. Or e-mail:

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