Problem Solvers: Business shuts down, customer left without layaway item or refund

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-26 18:22:57-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--It has been a frustrating month for Aletha Patton, who has spent several hours trying to track down the owner of Discount Mattress & More.

Patton put more than $400 toward a mattress that was in layaway at the store, located on 28th Street in Grand Rapids. Three weeks ago, when she showed up to make another payment, she found it was deserted.

"I'm working pay check to pay check, so I'm thinking I just got ripped off," Patton said. "I can't afford to just have money like this go down the drain."

The store went out of business without a warning and without as much as a sign on the window.

However, with merchandise still inside, Patton spent hours waiting at the doors hoping the owner would some day show up to claim it.

"I drive up here every day," she said. "Every couple of days, and sit and wait."

When Patton's not at the store, she's working from home to find out where the owner went.

"I get up and I just call around every day," Patton said. "I'm on the internet all day long."

Patton said she's called the city of Grand Rapids, Better Business Bureau and that she's even talked with neighboring business, but that no one seems to know who the owner is.

So, she contacted the FOX 17 Problem Solvers. After going door-to-door and placing multiple phone calls, FOX 17 finally got the owner on the phone. Merrill Reece Jr., who lives in Indiana, said the business went under last month. However, he said customers who had items in layaway should've been contacted.

Reece Jr. agreed to ship Patton the mattress.

"I talked to her and I told her if she sends me a copy of her receipt I'll be happy to fulfill the Discount Mattress obligation to the customer," Reece Jr. said.

Not only will he honor the store's obligation for Patton, he said he'd do the same thing for any other customer who can prove they had items in layaway.

As for Patton, instead of waiting at the business' front door and losing sleep over money wasted, she'll be getting plenty of rest on her new mattress.

"I'm like, relieved that I'm getting my mattress in a couple days," Patton said.

While trying to contact Reece Jr. FOX 17 reached out to a business with a similar name. Discount Mattress Sale and More is also located on 28th Street. A spokesperson there  said the two stores aren't affiliated, but that they've gotten several calls from customers like Patton after Discount Mattress & More went out of business.