Bamboozled: Failure to communicate

A little communication can go a long way.BB branding

Steve Gillick was itching for a new car, but the West Caldwell man didn’t think he was quite ready to buy.

But he had the itch, which intensified when he’d regularly pass Wayne Automall Hyundai on his way to and from work. On March 24, he stopped in to test drive a Hyundai Sonata.

“My father-in-law recently bought a Nissan Altima and he said if he was going to do it over again, he’d get the Hyundai Sonata,” Gillick said.

Gillick took the car for a spin. He liked it, but he said he told the salesman he wasn’t in the financial position to buy.

“After a period of relentless pressure from (the salesman), I put down a deposit of $500,” Gillick said. “I told (him) that the purchase was contingent on getting a family loan, which I had done in the past.”

Gillick left the dealership and called his relatives. They would be happy to help, but they couldn’t afford to lend Gillick the full $10,000 he’d need, he said.

The next day, Gillick said he called the salesman to say the deal was off.

The salesman didn’t let him go that quickly. Gillick said he was offered a different loan with a zero percent interest rate, but Gillick said he declined.

6611The call ended with the salesman agreeing to refund the $500 deposit to Gillick’s credit card.

“When I checked my account a week later, the money had not been returned,” Gillick said.

The next two months were filled with frustration as Gillick tried to get his refund.

He gave his credit card number again to the salesman, but the refund wasn’t processed. After calls didn’t help, he contacted his credit card company to put the charge in dispute on April 19.

“I would think if they have a deposit in dispute, someone should have been flagged,” he said. “You’d think they’d call me, but they never did. Now I have to call them again?”

He said he called again and gave his credit card number again to the salesman.

“He says that he’ll take care of it and again tries to get me to apply for a low- or no-interest loan,” Gillick said.

But it wasn’t taken care of. While he waited, Gillick said he received solicitation e-mails from Hyundai, and he’d respond, asking for his refund. Those e-mails, reviewed by Bamboozled, went unanswered.

In late May, he contacted Bamboozled for help.

We called the dealership’s sales manager, and within hours, the $500 was credited back to Gillick’s account. The sales manager said he was able to get the correct credit card number from the dealership’s paperwork, and it was done.

What took so long?

“It was just that they didn’t have his right credit card number,” the sales manager said. “The girl in the office said she tried it before.”

He guessed that the salesman provided the wrong credit card number to the office worker, and therefore the refund was declined.

That makes sense, but shouldn’t someone have followed up with the customer to get the correct account number? An account number that, all along, was part of Gillick’s file at the dealership?

“It’s all been taken care of,” the sales manager said.

It was. Gillick’s credit card statement showed the refund posted on May 27.

We’re glad the dealership finally made the refund happen, but this incident could have been avoided with a little communication. Gillick agrees he could have been more aggressive in trying to get the refund, but the dealership should have notified him when there was a problem with the credit card number in the first place.

Indeed, a little communication can go a long way.


We’ve brought you several stories of homeowners whose basements were flooded with sewage and sludge because of breaks in their town’s main lines. In each case, the town’s insurance fund refused to pay for damages.

Finally, one homeowner can chalk up a partial win.

Mary Ellen and Richard Moroses of Clifton sustained more than $15,000 of damage when several inches of sewage poured into their basement on May 6, 2010. The couple followed town protocol, first making a claim with their homeowners insurance company. They were paid $5,000 because of a special rider on their policy.

Next, they filed a claim with Clifton, which was covered by a self-insurance fund that was managed by Inservco.

The claim was denied. After Bamboozled wrote about their plight, the Moroseses were offered $1,300. Then $3,500.

The Moroseses declined, simply wanting to be made whole.

Then this spring, the couple got a call from Travelers Insurance. The rep explained it had taken over claims for Clifton, and the rep was assigned to clear up old cases, Mary Ellen Moroses said.

“We agreed to settle with them for about half of our remaining loss, $5,000, and we received a check from them at the end of April, almost an entire year after the sewer backup incident,” she said.

Moroses believes she and her husband should have been paid the entire amount, but they decided the stress of a court case wasn’t worth it, she said.

“Without you shining the light of publicity on the powers that be in this town, I’m sure we would never have seen a penny,” she said.


Last year, we brought you the story of Jim Hughes, a man who noticed two mattresses delivered to his home were missing their tags — tags required by state and federal law to inform consumers that the mattress complies with flammability standards.

The mattresses were delivered by Alba Furniture & Appliance of Union City and manufactured by Brooklyn Sleep Products of Williamsburg, N.Y.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission had taken Brooklyn Sleep to court in October 2010 after the company’s products failed surprise CPSC flammability tests in 2008, 2009 and 2010. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Oct. 19, 2010, prohibiting the firm from manufacturing, importing or selling mattresses that fail to comply with federal flammability standards, CPSC spokeswoman Patty Davis said.

But when Alba Furniture delivered the tagless mattresses — manufactured by Brooklyn Sleep in November 2010, it appeared the New York company was defying the judge’s order.

We checked back with CPSC, and it is still pursuing the case.

As for Alba, New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs settled with the company in April over claims that the company violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act by failing to display prices on merchandise and failing to specify certain language on its contracts for deliveries, according to court documents.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to pay $6,413 in civil penalties, attorney’s fees and investigative costs.

Mattress tags were not part of the settlement.