‘Not good business practices’: Lawsuit, non-disclosure agreements threatened when flooring company tries to strong-arm customers to keep reputation clean
WBTV Investigates: More customers share bad experiences with First Quality Interiors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Customers said they were duped into hiring a flooring company because of glowing reviews.
With those rave reviews, customers trusted First Quality Interiors to get the work done until they went missing, didn’t complete the job, and left some out thousands of dollars.
Since WBTV investigated First Quality Interiors in October, nearly a dozen more customers reached out to share their bad experiences with the company.
Customers were threatened with a lawsuit and were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements after complaining about the work done by the local contractor.
One consistent theme in their stories is that the company was more focused on image than results.
Danielle Benfield had gotten about seven different quotes from flooring companies before finally settling on First Quality Interiors.
“I found out about a preferred vendor First Quality Interiors through the real estate company that I work at, and so because of that, I felt like that would probably be a good option for me,” Benfield said.
“Somebody who’s recommended by a company that you worked for that historically has good reviews, I’m guessing your level of concern was about zero?” Hodges asked.
“Yeah, I didn’t have any concerns at that point,” Benfield said.
WBTV Investigates found that consistently with people we interviewed about First Quality Interiors, customers had no reason to have concerns because of good online reviews and positive past experiences.
“I had used First Quality prior to this two times and had very good results,” customer Carol Krug said.
But after our first story, we started hearing why the glowing online reviews might be a mirage.
Benfield ended up getting a floor, but it was totally different from what she had purchased.
After her complaints to First Quality went nowhere, she filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
First Quality’s response was shocking.
“I had gone on social media and defamed their name, which I had not made one post on social media,” Benfield said.
“He was saying the lies that I had done all of this and then they told the Better Business Bureau that they would be suing me. They were in the process of suing me for defamation of character or whatever that might be.”
That lawsuit never came but it was not the only evidence WBTV received of First Quality trying to keep customers quiet.
Two customers told WBTV the company would grant them refunds but only if they signed non-disclosure documents as part of a cancellation agreement.
One of the documents provided to WBTV showed that customers would not be allowed to discuss any of their experiences with First Quality if they signed it.
“The customer and any clients agree to at no time following the effective date to make any statements, or take any other actions whatsoever, to disparage, defame, sully or compromise the goodwill, name, brand or reputation of the Company.”
WBTV tried getting in touch with the owner but he has not returned our calls.
“Are you worried at all the way that they managed their reputation online to make you believe that they were a spic and span company?” Hodges asked.
“Oh yeah, I mean that is not good business practices, and it’s a lie,” Benfield said.
If you’re asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of a refund or settlement agreement, you may want to contact an attorney. An attorney WBTV spoke with said that a customer’s silence also has value that is worth more than just the price of the refund.
The document from First Quality also had customers agree that they had not previously made any disaparaging comments about the company, which could be tricky to navigate without the help of an attorney.
If you hired First Quality Interiors for a project and having issues getting in touch with them, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
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