TRUST­ING CUS­TOMERS LEFT IN THE LURCH

Trust­ing cus­tomers despair af­ter fur­ni­ture maker fails to de­liver

NewsMail - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH STEGER [email protected]

TWO women who live their lives choos­ing to see the best in peo­ple have learned a hard les­son af­ter los­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars on­line to the same self­pro­fessed fur­ni­ture maker.

It’s been four long months of back-and-forth mes­sag­ing, ex­cuses and frus­tra­tion for Su­san Roberts.

The 49-year-old has been given the runaround since Septem­ber, when she paid lo­cal car­pen­ter Marc Kim­ber $100 for a bench that was meant to take a week to build.

“At first he just told me it’d been rain­ing so he hadn’t had a chance to do it. Next it was that he was mov­ing,” Mrs Roberts told the NewsMail.

These some­what plau­si­ble ex­cuses con­tin­ued for sev­eral weeks, across more than 15 emails and mes­sages.

“Then it got to Christ­mas time, and I just re­alised it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen. ‘You’re full of it’,” she said.

Despite re­ceiv­ing nu­mer­ous mes­sages claim­ing the bench was ready for pick-up, Mrs Roberts said a new ex­cuse al­ways ended up com­ing.

The last in­ter­ac­tion she had with the car­pen­ter was on De­cem­ber 15, when she asked if her bench was ready, to which she re­ceived no re­ply.

“I’ve given up re­ply­ing to him at all now,” she said.

The mother of two said while she re­alised she may seem naive to some peo­ple, she’d al­ways been a per­son who saw the good in peo­ple.

“Think­ing about it, I’d rather be a trust­ing per­son and give peo­ple the ben­e­fit of doubt than spend life look­ing over my shoul­der, doubt­ing peo­ple,” Mrs Roberts said.

“I just don’t want to be that per­son. I didn’t even think this hap­pen­ing was a pos­si­bil­ity be­cause it’s not some­thing I would do to some­one. My brain doesn’t work that way.”

But the Innes Park res­i­dent has now had enough and re­cently be­gan pur­su­ing Paypal for a re­fund.

She ad­mit­ted she didn’t “even care about the money”.

“If I don’t get it back, well that was my silly. But I just don’t want him to get oth­ers’ free money that he doesn’t de­serve,” Mrs Roberts said.

“I’m a big be­liever in karma ... he prob­a­bly thinks he’s safe, be­cause it’s tak­ing so long with Paypal, but he’s go­ing to get him­self into s--t.

“I’d re­ally like to see that he can’t use Paypal again to sucker some other poor bas­tard. I’d be happy with that.”

An­gry cus­tomers

Mrs Roberts is among sev­eral peo­ple who fear they won’t see their money again.

Lo­cal Terri Tay­lor said she’d lost $400 af­ter pay­ing a de­posit for a pol­ished con­crete ta­ble.

“He’s paid me $100 now, but only be­cause I’ve hounded him,” she said.

Tak­ing ac­tion

Like the other two, Ch­eryll Ba­teup was given the runaround for months un­til she fi­nally got a glimpse of what she’d paid for.

The mum said she’d paid a $300 de­posit for two barn doors in Oc­to­ber, with the hope the end-prod­ucts would be made of a dis­tressed look­ing wood with white bor­ders.

“He said it would take him three weeks, but as time went by he kept giv­ing me ex­cuses why they weren’t ready yet,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

The 57-year-old said her mes­sages were blocked by Mr Kim­ber late last year, at which point she went to his home and threat­ened to call the po­lice.

“Af­ter all this time muck­ing me about, this guy just blocked me! I was pretty hot un­der the col­lar,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

She told the NewsMail when she first saw some of the pic­tures Mr Kim­ber posted of his pre­vi­ous jobs on­line, she couldn’t have given him higher praise.

“I had so much stuff I wanted him to make for me, but now I ac­tu­ally think what he posts isn’t what he’s made in the past,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

When Mr Kim­ber ar­rived at her house with the doors she’d or­dered some three months later, Mrs Ba­teup was aghast.

“They’re not the barn doors, they can’t be,” she thought as he drove up.

She said rather than us­ing real paint, the doors had been cov­ered with fenc­ing stain, turn­ing the pal­let wood that had been used or­ange.

“They were the most dis­gust­ing things I’d seen in my life, I was hor­ri­fied. They were noth­ing like what I’d asked for. I was af­ter some­thing re­cy­cled, some­thing with char­ac­ter,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

Next steps

Af­ter re­fus­ing to ac­cept the doors, the Bund­aberg mother asked for her de­posit back.

But, as she ex­pected, it wasn’t that sim­ple.

“He didn’t have the money, which I’d as­sumed, so we agreed on him pay­ing me $100 ev­ery fort­night. But when that first due date rolled around, I asked him when I could get the money, and he an­swered ‘When I get it’,” Mrs Ba­teup said of the ex­change.

Sick and tired of the ex­cuses, she texted Mr Kim­ber, telling him she was go­ing to the po­lice, to which he re­sponded im­me­di­ately.

“Af­ter all that, I’ve re­ceived $50, but if I’m be­ing hon­est, it’s $50 bucks I didn’t think I’d ever get back,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

The dis­abil­ity sup­port worker said while she hoped she’d re­ceive the next pay­ment in two weeks’ time, her ex­pec­ta­tions were low.

“If he doesn’t pay, I don’t think I’m go­ing to muck around with him any­more, I’m just go­ing to go to the po­lice,” Mrs Ba­teup said.

“I’m a trust­ing per­son, some­one who takes peo­ple’s word. But I think I’ve learnt my les­son. I won’t do this again.” In a com­ment to the NewsMail, Mr Kim­ber said the money he owed cus­tomers was be­ing re­turned.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

UPSET: Ch­eryll Ba­teup and grand­daugh­ter, Ha­vanah.

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