Customers want explanation after business closes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Customers want explanation after business closes

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) - Customers of a longtime Cedar Falls business are frustrated after spending money on appliances they never received.

Now that the business is closed, all they have are receipts to prove their purchases but no way of knowing if they'll ever receive what they bought in the first place.

Owner of Smitty's Tire and Appliance, Max Boren of Manchester, said Thursday he plans to reimburse every customer who bought something but never received it.

He didn't feel comfortable talking on camera, but asked people to be patient while he goes through customer files and paperwork to determine who gets what; he said he expects dozens of customers to be fully refunded for their purchases.

For customers like Jane Richards, it's a tough situation to understand.

Richards has shopped at Smitty's Tire and Appliance in Cedar Falls for more than 30 years.

Receipts show she spent about $1,700 on a new washer and dryer in November.

She said she expected to receive them by mid-December.

"Well, I don't have a washer and dryer, and apparently we don't have a Smitty's anymore," she said.

Richards said she had no reason not to trust a company she's done business with for so long, until it up and closed with no notification and no delivery of her washer and dryer.

"I feel like somebody took advantage of me, and I don't like that," she said.

Richards made plans to have her original washer and dryer hauled to the House of Hope, a transitional housing program for women and children in Waterloo.

"I don't know exactly how many women and children are there, but they needed a dryer right now, and they said their washers don't last long because of the constant use, so they would definitely be needing a washer, so they were happy to have both of them," said Richards.

Richards had a written agreement on her receipt that an employee from Smitty's Tire and Appliance would haul and hook up her old washer and dryer at the House of Hope once her new washer and dryer were delivered.

But the delivery of her new appliances never came, so the donation never happened either.

"I actually feel kind of embarrassed...now I have nothing to give them," she said.

When KWWL asked Boren if he would honor the written agreement to haul Richard's washer and dryer to House of Hope, he said he "probably wouldn't."

"The guys at that store are gone," he said.

"We probably wouldn't move a washer and dryer and hook it up because it opens up extra liabilities," Boren explained.

Boren said his priority right now is taking the resources and assets, and "trying to make folks whole who need to be."

"It's not going to be tomorrow," he said, adding that customers would be contacted by a letter within 90 days instructing them on how to get a refund.

According to Boren, purchases of extended warranties won't be reimbursed since most of the warranties are through a third-party and other repair shops should honor them.

He said there was a period of time where extended warranties were offered from the store that might be eligible for reimbursement, however, he couldn't recall the time frame of when those extended warranties would have been purchased. He said if someone does have an extended warranty offered by the store, that person should fax a request for reimbursement of any repairs to the Smitty's Tire and Appliance in Manchester at (563) 927-4116.

When it comes to smaller purchases like a washer belt that might not fit, Boren said he would handle those inquiries of reimbursement on a case-by-case basis.

"At this point, we have things we have to get handled first," he said.

Boren said the building, located on University Avenue in Cedar Falls, was listed for sale on Thursday.

When asked if he wished the business was still open, he said, "Do I wish it was still going? Sure."

"It is what it is, so we're just having to deal with that in the best way we can," he said.
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