BBB Releases Mid-Year 2008 "Dirty Half Dozen" List

In the first half of 2008, consumers have filed 7,485 complaints against businesses in the Southern Piedmont area of North and South Carolina with The Better Business Bureau in Charlotte. "Although 83% of these complaints were resolved satisfactorily, there are businesses in our area that do not respond to consumer complaints in a timely manner, if at all," said Tom Bartholomy, President & CEO of The Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont. "The businesses that have made the BBB's Dirty Half Dozen list have the most unanswered complaints for the first half of 2008 which earns them the worst possible rating with the Better Business Bureau," Bartholomy added.

The BBB wants to alert consumers to know who they are doing business with. "Aliases and frequent business name changes should be major red flags for consumers," said Bartholomy. "As complaints and government actions mount against bad businesses, the business owner may close down the business, then re-open it under a new name, at a new address and start all over again," Bartholomy added.

The BBB's Dirty Half Dozen list includes businesses with six or more unanswered complaints from January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 and includes two repeat offenders:

1)     Netwinner LLC - (Charlotte, NC) - Mr. Matt Coapman, Vice President - Netwinner LLC operates an internet gaming site at www.netwinner.com where online gamers can play Banko and Moneywheel to accumulate points to be redeemed for prizes.  In May, 2008, citing financial hardship, the company abruptly changed the prize structure to eliminate guaranteed awards which created an uproar with faithful players who had earned points that they expected to cash in for debit and gift cards. Netwinner has 58 unanswered complaints and 92 pending complaints in 2008 and a total of 229 complaints in the last 36 months. Status: Currently in business.

2)    Place Settings (Matthews, NC) - Owner, Robert J. Marossy - Place Settings is an internet-based business that sells china, crystal and silver and other gifts via www.placesettings.com.  Place Settings has 49 unanswered complaints and 11 pending complaints in 2008 and 265 total complaints in the last 36 months. Repeat Offender. Status: Unknown.

3)     La Bella Sposa (Charlotte, NC) - Owners, Brian and Shannon Starcher -- A high-end, couture bridal shop located in Southeast Charlotte, La Bella Sposa abruptly closed in June, 2008 leaving dozens of brides without wedding dresses for which they had paid thousands of dollars.  La Bella Sposa has 42 unanswered complaints and 1 pending complaint in 2008 and 45 total complaints in the last 36 months. Status: Business closed and under investigation by multiple government agencies.

4)    Computer City also dba Deals Direct (Charlotte, NC) - Owner, Lissa Yan - Computer City/Deals Direct sells electronics and computers over the internet from www.dealsdirectinc.com. Consumers nationwide have filed complaints stating that the merchandise received was not the name brand merchandise purchased. Further, consumers have been unable to reach the company, exchange the merchandise or get a refund.  The BBB has a physical location address on Independence Blvd., but mail to that address has been returned as undeliverable, and a business address leads to a rented mailbox in Southeast Charlotte. These two business names have 14 unanswered complaints and 1 pending complaint in 2008 and 34 total complaints in the last 36 months. Repeat Offender. Status: Currently in business.

5)    Rolland Elliott Studios (Charlotte, NC) - Owner, Rolland Elliott - Rolland Elliott Studios provides photography services. Complainants allege Mr. Elliott did not fulfill the photography services under the terms of their contracts. Rolland Elliott Studios has 8 unanswered complaints and 5 pending complaints in 2008 and a total of 25 complaints in the last 36 months. Status:  Currently in business.

6)     Weir Builders (Shelby, NC) - Owner, Lawrence Sam Weir, Jr. - Home Improvement Contractor - Also doing business as Crete Magic, Sun Masters and Weir Grafix. Mr. Weir has had warrants issued for his arrest in Lincoln County and Mecklenburg County for failure to perform work after being paid and was arrested in Lincoln County on June 15, 2008. He has defrauded 25 homeowners in eight counties in NC and SC out of more than $100,000. Weir Builders has 6 unanswered complaints and 3 pending complaints in 2008 and 14 total complaints in the last 36 months. Status: Out on bail from Lincoln County.

The Better Business Bureau has information you can trust.  Consumers can check out a business and get a free Reliability Report online by visiting the BBB website at www.bbb.org.  For more information, please call the BBB (toll-free in NC and SC) at 1-877-317-7236.