CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - After receiving several complaints, the FOX 8 Defenders dig into what appears to be a pattern of problems with a local business. One consumer tells us she's waited 21 months for furniture she bought and still doesn't have. The FOX 8 Defenders look into their frustrations and learn customers spent thousands of dollars on merchandise that's never been delivered.
They've never met, but three New Orleans-area families share the same frustrating concern with a local furniture business. Janet Biggs of New Orleans East paid $6,195 for a living room set. Crystal Baldwin of Violet spent $3,008.40. And Catherine Day and her daughter, Amber, who live in Slidell, say they paid $2,200.
What they paid isn't the problem. What's disturbing is how long they've waited for furniture they bought at Hamilton Enterprises, a furniture wholesale distributor in Chalmette.
Day and her daughter, Amber Bishop, say they waited seven months for furniture or a refund.
"It was two baby beds, a nightstand, a dresser," Day said.
She explained she followed up on the furniture she purchased in February 2015 with numerous text messages, visits and phone calls to a Lisa Hamilton. She laid out those details in a certified-mail letter to the business in September.
"She (Lisa Hamilton) actually ducked out on us a couple of times," Day said about the times she visited the business trying to get answers.
After the FOX 8 Defenders started asking questions and a Justice of the Peace got involved, the Slidell family says they finally got a full refund.
"The money we put out. we needed it back to get their beds," Bishop said.
The months-long delivery delay and wait for a refund affected Bishop's newborn twins, who have been sleeping in bassinets since they came home from the hospital seven months ago.
"They're premature, so weight wise is not a problem, but lengthwise, they're way too long," Day said.
In New Orleans East, Janet Biggs' formal living area is fully furnished, but it's not the special order furniture she financed at Hamilton Enterprises.
"I went there on January 6, 2014," Biggs said.
The furniture she had her heart set on and financed nearly two years ago was never delivered. Her receipt shows that the furniture would take approximately eight weeks.
"After eight weeks, I called and they said where it's gonna be a delay because of my material, and I said how long? They said approximately three weeks, and then I spoke with Lisa. She said, 'give us another four weeks, Ms. Biggs. It'll be there,'" Biggs said.
Weeks turned into months and much longer. At the end of 2014, Biggs said she was told her furniture would be in her house before Christmas, but Christmas came and went, and nothing changed. At that point, it had almost reached a whole year since Biggs paid for furniture. In May 2015, nearly a year and a half after their order date, Biggs says David Hamilton agreed that if the furniture wasn't in within 30 days, Biggs would get a full refund even though the fine print on Hamilton receipts says special orders are not subject to cancellation.
Biggs never got the refund, and soon it'll be two years since she bought and ordered the furniture. She's renting to own the furniture in her home now so that it wouldn't be empty again for the holidays. That means she's paying two bills.
In Violet, Crystal Baldwin said she ordered and paid in full for a sectional, ottoman, dining set, bedroom set and more on Feb. 13. She said she was told her order would be in within four to six weeks.
"I started calling them around my fifth week because I wanted a delivery date, and they kept telling me they had an ice storm," Baldwin said.
Fast forward many more weeks and months, and in late summer, six months after she made the purchase, Baldwin said she learned they couldn't get the dinette set. She had been speaking with Lisa Hamilton. Baldwin said she changed her order to other furniture that she was told was in stock. Her new delivery date then was August, but it's now November and still no furniture.
"It's a lot of money, and I had gotten rid of my furniture thinking that they were really serious this time," explained Baldwin.
Crystal Baldwin, Catherine Day, Amber Bishop and Janet Biggs aren't alone. The FOX 8 Defenders found dozens of other frustrated customer complaints against Hamilton Enterprises on the Better Business Bureau's website.
In addition, a St. Bernard Parish Justice of the Peace, Tony Michieu, confirms he's received several complaints - at least a dozen from consumers against Hamilton Enterprises. He said he's been able to settle all of the cases either with a refund or delivery.
We've reached out to Hamilton Enterprises. Lisa Hamilton did not agree to an interview, but did email responses to each of the three cases we've addressed. In the first consumer complaint, Hamilton tells us the baby bed furniture line was going to be discontinued, and that parts would be difficult to get in. When she couldn't fulfill Catherine Day and her daughter's full order, Hamilton issued a refund for the family through Justice of the Peace Michieu.
In the complaint from Janet Biggs, the consumer who ordered furniture 21 months ago, Hamilton told us, "While I am not sure of what exactly happened in regards to the length of time on this special order, I do completely understand where the customer would be frustrated. I am being informed Mrs. Biggs will receive her set shortly and she will be compensated."
In response to Crystal Baldwin's complaint, she said they were under the assumption the consumer received her merchandise, and they're working to resolve the complaint.
To file a complaint with the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office, call 504-271-2501 or go to 4700 Paris Rd. in Chalmette. Also, the LA Attorney General's office urges anyone who may be a victim of an unfair business practice to report it to the consumer protection section by calling the hotline at 1-800-351-4889.
If you have a consumer complaint, call the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397, fill out our online complaint form or email us at email@example.com.