Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Help Me Howard: Art Quality
When you order some products, you are told all sales are final, but what happens when it arrives, and you aren't satisfied? Can you get your money back even though you agreed all sales are final? The law may surprise you. Let's bring in Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Every year, for nine straight years, Mark and Jeff have gone to Greece. Then, 13 months ago, they found pictures of Greece that brought back wonderful memories.
Jeffrey White: "When you buy art, you buy something that emotes. It's an emotion, it is a personal experience, and what we were buying was something that was going to try and capture a moment in time that gives us great happiness."
In July of 2008, Jeff paid a South Florida art gallery $7,000 for the two prints to give to Mark for his 40th birthday. Nice idea, never happened.
Jeffrey White: "And I looked at Mark's face, and he was crestfallen, and I think that's what hurt me the most."
The first time the customized landscape prints were delivered, they were not what they were promised.
Mark Teixeira: "The pieces arrived, and they had watermarks and damages on the actual photographic print, and there was the frames that were kind of roughed up."
The gallery promised to re-do the pictures five months later. They arrived again, again filled with scratches. This time, the gallery employee couldn't understand why Mark was upset.
Mark Teixeira: "He asked why I couldn't accept it with the scratches, and I, famous line, I said, I go to Greece every summer and when I look at the Aegean sky, it doesn't have scratches in it, so why do I need to see scratches in a photography print of the sunset with scratches in it?"
The gallery said, let us try a third time. Jeff said, forget it, just give back my $7,000.
Mark Teixeira: "So he said, 'Sure, you'll get your money back.' He actually said that to us, and we called him exactly a week later, and that's when everything was like surreal. He denied speaking to us about that, denied ever saying that and not his problem."
Jeff disputed the charge with his credit card company. They said too much time had passed. He tried the gallery's corporate headquarters, they told him all sales are final.
Jeffrey White: "And they're claiming all sales final, it shouldn't have to be that way just because you write it. It's all about trust and promise to perform, and clearly they have not performed."
They can't get their money back, and they don't want the art. What they are left with is an empty wallet and a blank wall.
Jeffrey White: "As you can see, we are very fortunate to have a place that would allow us to display art, and we haven't hung any art because there are two pieces that are missing."
But if you pay for something that says all sales are final, and you aren't satisfied with the quality of the product, whether it's a piece of art or a piece of furniture. What can you do, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "It does not matter what the store's policy is regarding sales are final, or they give refunds. If they do not produce what they promised in an undamaged condition, they must return your money."
When I first called Peter Lik Galleries headquarters in Las Vegas, a company official told me he would check into and get back to me. He never did. Another company official promised to get back with me, he never did. Finally, the gallery's Michael Roundtree returned my call. He told me that there had been corporate turnover over the past year that caused this issue to be continually dropped. He apologized, immediately returned the $7,000 to Jeff and sent them a book valued at $200 as a gift to make up for their trouble. That was more than we asked, but Howard says sometimes you learn more about a company when things go wrong.
Howard Finkelstein: "Good companies are like you and me, they sometimes make mistakes, but good companies, like good people admit their mistakes and correct them, just like the art gallery did."
Jeff and Mark have their money and now have to fill those blank spaces on the wall with something else.
Jeffrey White: "This one is 200 years old. It's a Japanese warrior in a traditional pose."
Jeff paid in full for the art. One lesson he learned that makes it tough: to negotiate when they have all your money. If a store wants the money up front, say no. If they say, too bad, walk away.
Wall-to-wall worries plastered your plans? Need an artful escape? Don't scratch the surface. Draw on us. To paint a legal masterpiece... with crayons, of course.