Last spring, the Mendham couple decided it was time to replace an 8-foot round rug that had served their kitchen for more than 20 years.
“It was a good rug but it got abused from sitting on the kitchen floor for so long,” said Frank Carotenuto, 73. “It got a few tears and you couldn’t repair it. It needed replacement.”
On April 11, the couple visited the Whippany showroom of Einstein Moomjy, a company whose roots go back to 1948.
According to the company’s website, that’s when Theodore Einstein, an immigrant from Europe during World War II, hand-made rugs in an apartment on top of a Bloomfield butcher shop.
In 1955, he opened his first store in a partnership with Albert Moomjy, a merchant in the rug trade, and each partner brought a brother into the business, too.
The couple said they selected a braided rug, measuring 8 feet around, for a $975 price tag.
“We gave a $100 deposit cash, but they wanted more, so I went back with another $400 a few days later,” said Jane Carotenuto. “They said it would be available in four to five weeks.”
It’s now July, and the Carotenutos still don’t have a rug — or a refund.
THE ORDER AND THE REORDER
About a month after the order was placed, and the couple said they hadn’t heard anything about a possible delivery date. Jane Carotenuto called the Whippany store for an update.
“They said the manufacturer was no longer making that rug and we should come back to pick out another,” she said.
The couple said they thought it was strange that no one from the store had called about the manufacturing glitch, but they returned to the store to choose another design.
That was in the middle of May.
They selected another rug, and they said they were told it would take four to six weeks for delivery.
After two weeks, now the beginning of June, Jane Carotenuto said she called the store just to make sure there were no problems. And yes, there was a problem.
“I spoke to a gentleman who said he was a manager, and he said, ‘You mean no one called you?’ ” she said. “I said, ‘Called me for what?’ and he said the manufacturer is no longer making that rug, so we’d need to place a different order.”
They decided, per the contract, they wanted a refund instead.
The contract reads: “If the merchandise you ordered is not delivered by the promised delivery date, Einstein Moomjy must offer you the choice of (1) cancelling your order with a prompt full refund of any payments you have made to the seller or (2) accepting delivery at a specific later date.”
Carotenuto said the manager promised the company would send a refund check.
But two weeks later the check hadn’t arrived, so the couple called the Whippany store again. The rep said the couple would have to contact the Paramus store for the refund.
The couple called Paramus, and they said they were told all refund checks come out of a different location, and they were given a name and contact number.
They called, reaching the party deemed responsible by the Paramus office. That rep said she’d look into it and call the couple back, but they said they never heard another word.
They said they called at least a dozen times more, but no one responded to their messages.
“We got disgusted,” said Frank Carotenuto. “The contract is very clear and I don’t understand what the problem is.”
Jane Carotenuto, 72, still works at a preschool and also helps care for her husband, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered three years ago. She said said she doesn’t mind waiting for the refund — as long as she knows someone is working on it. But she said it’s hard to be confident because they get a different story every time they reached a rep, and the other times, no one would return their calls.
“I don’t understand why the runaround, and they will not return my phone calls,” she said. “I just don’t have time to play games with these people.”
On July 1, the couple asked for help in a letter to Bamboozled.
SEEKING A REFUND
The recession hasn’t been kind to Einstein Moomjy.
In 2010, it closed its Manhattan location after 30 years in business. The Pine Brook warehouse is also closed, but the Paramus, Whippany and North Plainfield locations remain. Even though all the locations are still listed on the company’s website, it’s rare for anyone to answer the phone numbers listed on the site, based on Bamboozled’s experience.
The company also has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It doesn’t take an Einstein — an Einstein Moomjy or any other kind of Einstein — to see this couple deserves a refund, and fast.
After trying half a dozen bad phone numbers — including those listed on the company website for stores that remain in business — we finally tracked down an e-mail address for Andrea Moomjy, co-owner of the store.
She forwarded our e-mail to her sister Claudia Moomjy, who told Bamboozled she’s not really working with the company, but just helping out.
“We’re restructuring and it’s been crazy,” she said.
We explained the Carotenuto’s dilemma, and she said she’d look into it.
A day later, we received a call from Walter Moomjy, a founding partner with Albert Moomjy and the Einstein brothers.
“I just spoke to Jane Carotenuto and I’ve resolved this. I’ll take care of this,” he said.
What does that mean, we asked?
“I don’t understand what happened. The salesman who helped her is gone and I don’t understand what he did. I’m trying to locate the payment,” he said.
Bamboozled faxed Moomjy the couple’s receipts, and Moomjy said the company would refund their money by the end of the week.
The next day we received an email from Andrea Moomjy, who requested the documents again. We sent them, again, via fax and email, and left several messages asking for confirmation the documents were received. No one responded.
The Carotenutos hope that finally, the refund is coming. Rather than wait any longer, they found another rug for their kitchen — for about half the price, they said.
Frank Carotenuto said he’d let us know when the refund check arrives.
“Knowing the way it’s gone, I wouldn’t put anything past them,” he said.
We’ll let you know what happens.