Burned up: Wolf can't work <I>sans</I> caps

Ron Martin Appliance has been through some turbulent times, beginning with the death of founder Ron in 2003, followed by the growing– or, rather, the shrinking– pains that ensued after his son, Logan, took over. This summer the company, at the intersection of Woodbrook Drive and 29 North, vacated its formerly spacious showroom and moved upstairs; customers now get to the store by way of a small foyer and elevator sandwiched between Hauser Homes and Bassett Furniture.

I wrote about the company just as it was settling into its new digs ["Chaos Theory," July 14]. Two readers had contacted me with accounts of broken promises and elusive refunds– but when I met with Martin on July 8, he assured me the business had finally hit bottom and was on its way up.

Maureen Tanner might disagree. Tanner and her husband bought a $4,500 Wolf gas range on May 7 and were given a delivery date for the next week. The day came and went, Tanner alleges, with no notice from the store that delivery would have to be rescheduled. When she called the salesman, George Maris, Tanner claims, he said the range was missing burner caps (which are necessary for use) and wouldn't be delivered until they arrived.

The stove arrived about two and a half weeks later– minus burner caps. According to Tanner, the deliverymen said someone from Ron Martin would call when they arrived. When no one called, Tanner and her husband went to the store on July 7– where, she claims, Maris told them the burner caps had not been ordered. It would take about two weeks, he allegedly said, for them to arrive.

On September 3, when the burner caps still hadn't materialized, Tanner sent the store a certified letter in which she asked that the stove be removed and their money refunded. Maris called Tanner's husband on September 7 and, by Tanner's account, said that "He could pull the burner caps off another stove, and we could either pick these up or have them delivered."

Tanner picked up the burner caps on September 16– and, finally, four months after paying Ron Martin $4,500 for it, the stove worked. "If they could obtain the burner caps at any time," Tanner wonders, "why was it not done before the stove was delivered?"

Tanner's saga isn't over yet, however; she's still waiting for a refund on a Wolf accessory she ordered on July 7 but never received. According to Tanner, Maris initiated a credit refund when she went to the store on September 16, which the credit-card company told her would take about two weeks.

When I spoke with Logan Martin, he began by saying, "We have people calling upset all the time," which he ascribed to high sales volume. Since Maris was out sick, he agreed to research the situation and call back, which he did in short order.

"This is inexcusable," he admitted, and added, "I can't defend the company on this one." Instead, he declared, he would call Tanner to apologize– then make sure the refund makes its way to her credit card.


Rugs redux

 "My father owns T.S. Eways Oriental Rugs on the downtown mall," Khoury Salem Eways emailed me to say, "and has been known for years as an honorable businessman with ties in the community. He is by very nature a man of principle and stands by his work."

The catalyst for Eways' impassioned email was his recent discovery of a column I wrote about his uncle Munir's now-defunct Eways Carpet One on 29 North ["Missing Rugs," April 22, 2004], which left many disgruntled customers when it suddenly closed. Eways fils was concerned that readers might confuse the father with the uncle, and I'm glad to clarify that the two businesses– unlike the two owners– were never related.

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer or write her at Box 4553, Charlottesville 22905.