Pulled rug: Heirloom and $$ missing

"I am writing," Marie Deans' letter began, "in hopes that you can help me recover a rug from Eways that has great sentimental value for me. The rug was handmade for me by my great-aunt in the 1940s when my grandmother died. My great-aunt became the grandmother I no longer had, and she died in the 1970s."

In late October 2002, Deans took the 3' by 5' rug to Eways Fine Floors in Woodbrook Shopping Center, where she arranged to have it hand-cleaned and the edges repaired by a process called serging. The total came to $222, and Deans put down half, $111, as a deposit. Deans asked the salesman, Ron Boardman, whether the rug could be ready by Christmas, and claims he said he "couldn't promise that," but they "would try."

"I called just before Christmas and was told the rug was not ready," Deans wrote. "I called in February 2003, and the rug was not ready. I called in May and was told that someone would call me back that day. No one did that day or over the next month."

She was surprised to receive a bill in June, dated 3/26/03, for $111 for the remainder of the material and services on the rug. "I called Eways and asked if this meant the rug was ready," she says.

"When the woman asked me if I hadn't picked up the rug, I explained that I'd been calling since December and had been told either that it wasn't ready or that someone would return my call."

The woman said that Boardman would call her, and he did.

"He said he didn't know where the rug was," Deans claims, "and would be off the next day (Friday), but he would find out where the rug was and call me back Monday. He did not," she says. According to Deans, she called yet again in July and was again told someone would call, but no one did.

Deans went to Eways in September with her original receipt and the bill, and "one of the women there checked the computer, which said my rug was in the warehouse (or downstairs). Another woman went to look for it, but came back saying she couldn't find it." Both women, Deans says, "assured" her that the rug "would be found and I would be called." She wasn't.

Deans claims she called in October and again before Christmas, but– yep, you guessed it: No one called her back.

"Eways has now had my rug for well over a year," she says. "The rug is irreplaceable. Not only does Eways have the rug; they also have the deposit, yet all they have done in response to my many inquiries about the rug is give me the runaround."

I spoke with Boardman and faxed him Deans' letter, the original receipt, and the 3/26/03 bill. He called the next day to read me a statement: "Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. The owners will be resolving this with Ms. Deans." When I asked whether the resolution would include returning the rug, he replied, "I'm not going to get into the details with a third party." He thanked me again– then hung up on me.

Five days later, no one had called Deans. She now intends to pursue the matter in the courts, and I'll let you know the outcome.

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer, write her at 100 Second Street Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer, write her at 100 Second Street NW, 22902, or call 295-8700 ext. 406.