Consumers allege Leander-based websites take money, don’t deliver
AUSTIN, Texas - Sept. 5, 2012 — Better Business Bureau has received numerous complaints from across the country about two websites based in Leander, Texas — art-heist.com and hollywoodframed.com.
Consumers allege they ordered art and frames from Hollywood Framed and Art Heist, but either never received their orders, received the wrong order or received a product far inferior to the one advertised online. Many alleged the company did not respond to their calls or emails pertaining to delivery of the product ordered or refunds.
According to Williamson County records, the two websites are registered to George Prichard of Cedar Park, and share a physical address — 1309 Leander Dr., suite 103, in Leander. A BBB investigator visited the address and found a warehouse unit with no identification and no employees present to determine ownership.
One consumer, a San Antonio resident who asked to remain anonymous, said she ordered a print from Art Heist because it had a good price and included the frame. She said she spent $161 to have the framed picture mailed to her.
“I immediately emailed and asked for a tracking confirmation,” she said. “And he responded very kindly, saying, ‘I’ll send it to you real soon,’ and he was apologetic for his delayed response. And so I just gave it time.”
After not hearing from Prichard for almost a week, the consumer said she sent another email. She sent a third email a week after that, and again in another week. He did not respond to any of those messages, she told BBB.
“I was giving it about a week in between, giving him ample time to check his email and work on the situation,” the consumer said. “I was trying to be fair and not jump to conclusions.”
She said she tried to call phone numbers she found online. They did not work.
Frustrated, she said she sent him a final email, telling him that he should be ashamed of himself for taking her money.
“He responded that my bank should be ashamed, that they were the ones with the money. He said all I had to do was file a dispute with my bank,” she said. “I was just shocked that he would call my bank a thief when he was the thief.”
More than two dozen other consumers have turned to BBB with similar stories about both Art Heist and Hollywood Framed. Prichard has not responded to BBB about most of the complaints.
In addition, BBB tried to contact the company about the pattern of complaints and concerns about claims made on art-heist.com. BBB sent letters via email, to the address listed on his website and the address provided to the Williamson County Clerk. Prichard did not respond to any of those letters.
The San Antonio consumer said her experience was simply depressing.
“I find it sad that somebody who obviously has intelligence is using it in such a negative way,” she said. “He’s obviously got some intelligence if he’s able to do this. It’s just very unfortunate.”
When buying art or any other merchandise online, BBB offers the following advice:
· Do your research. Find an Accredited Business using BBB’s Member Pages, and check out the company’s BBB Business Review before purchasing anything from a website.
· Confirm contact information is valid. Look on the site for a street address and phone number, and verify whether those are valid. Be wary if the seller’s only contact information is a post office box.
· Pay with a credit card. It is best to use a credit card when shopping online, because, under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn’t receive the item.
· Review refund and shipping policies. If you can’t find the terms and conditions, ask the seller through an email or telephone call to provide them to you in writing.
· Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, a shopper should be provided with a confirmation receipt. BBB recommends printing a copy of the confirmation and any indication of the expected delivery timeframe for future reference.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.
About Better Business Bureau:
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior.
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Contact BBB serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin at (512) 445-4748. ###