Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Queen City Deplorium

What do you do when you send someone a signed contract and $375 worth of merchandise to sell in their store, and then they pretend you don't exist? Well, Queen City Emporium has had 80+ complaints filed to the Attorney General of Missouri in the past few weeks. These are from people all over the country, including me. How and why did we collectively take action in such a short period of time? Well, let's start with our very one-sided email correspondence that took place over several weeks time:

Me: I haven't had any updates for a while about my Tshirts. Have they been selling at all?

Them (Queen City Emporium): Silence.

Me: Please respond to my previous email if you would. I'm getting a little nervous.

Them: Nothing.

(At this point I find out third hand that their internet has supposedly been out which, by the way, is no excuse given that I'm sure at least one of them had it at home)

Me: Here's hoping your internet is back up....

Them: AT&T was finally able to get our internet hooked up yesterday mid-day. Ahh...the joys of technology & 140+ year old buildings. I'm wading my way through emails and updates.

Me: Ah, best of luck. Thanks for letting me know. I'll wait for my turn- thanks!

Them: Nada.

Me: Hello?

Them: Zip.

Me: Please PLEASE respond to me. I feel like you're giving me the runaround.

At this point I received a reply with another excuse for not writing. In it they told me a check had been sent, but to this day I have received nothing.

Feeling frustrated with this and one other consignor, I turned to the Etsy forums for advice, but I kept the names anonymous. To my surprise, someone posted that they had started a thread about "Queen City Emporium" and how they had refused to return his girlfriend's items (which total $800) or pay for those items that had sold. I went to that thread only to find out that there were already several other vendors who had also been scammed, and before the end of the night the total was over 30. Things escalated during the next few days as more and more people discovered that they weren't alone in their frustrations with the QCE. Reports were filed with the FBI, the Better Business Bureau, and many others, and at this writing over 80 people have filed with the Attorney General of Missouri.

The media was contacted and a number of stories aired on the evening news in Springfield the following Monday and Tuesday, including one story that featured yours truly quite predominantly. The store hasn't opened since and we wonder what will happen next. I do feel sorry for the women who are at the heart of this mess, but every time I try and imagine that it was just a matter of getting in over their heads, I hear another story like these:

One vendor reported trying and trying to get payment until they finally sent a token check for $10. It was made out to the wrong person. When she asked for a new one, they sent it, minus the amount used for postage!

Or what about the man who went to pick up his wife's items (after having frustrations similar to the rest of us). When he stalled in the store to count the items before leaving, they called the police on him!

One person gave this report on Etsy: "Very disappointed with this seller. Placed order on 9/25/10 for jewelry cords; on 10/7 I sent an email asking if she had sent it and got no reply. I made more attempts and on 10/25 I received a package with a USPS Delivery Confirm label attached (for proof of delivery), it contained 4 insignificant buttons. Not what I paid for or ordered. I have no recourse from Paypal."

That package was sent without the real item, and with a delivery confirmation label for no other purpose than to keep them from being able to file a complaint with Paypal. This post ends here because I truly am speechless.


woolies said...

For me, being an honest person, I find it incredibly difficult to understand how the mind works of a criminal. They stole $371 worth of product from me, and I despair of ever getting it back, let alone being paid for what may have sold. You've had more communication than I have. :(
PS they stole from my other product line, not the one I'm posting with here. (http://busterandboo.etsy.com)

JudysDesigns said...

How sad to see the changes life brings to honest people trying to make a living. I was speaking to an older friend today on an unrelated matter and she told me stories of how her fathers business was done with the word of his clients (no legal documents). She said this was how it was done in their rural area. If you give your word, this is giving of yourself and what you stood for.

We had legal documents and were still taken. I'm out $499 retail. I don't know how they can sleep at night.

Bonnie said...

I was absolutely disgusted when I first heard of this story. My heart goes out to everyone who was unfortunately burned by this 'business'. As the owner of a small handmade business I know how significant these losses can be and I just hope that you are able to have some sort of resolution!

Little Messy Missy said...

That is horrible... sorry Mike. I am a firm believer in Karma.

-Sam said...

Just posted on this as well, and linked to your blog...I can't imagine ripping off anyone, but to steal from people trying to build a business with their art and soul is deplorable.