HOLLAND, Mich. — A woman who thought she bought the perfect birthday gift for her mom now says a West Michigan business conned her.
“I felt like I got scammed,” said Gina Valente. “I felt like she literally just took me for my money, which left me heartbroken because I’ve never been scammed before or thought that could happen to me.”
In January 2021, Valente, who works as a flight attendant and lived in metro Detroit at the time, discovered Samantha and Company Decor through a Facebook ad.
According to its website, Samantha and Company Decor makes dogs and other creations from wood shavings.
Valente and her mom share a basset hound named Ivy, so she thought it would be a unique, sentimental gift to give to her mom for her upcoming birthday.
“I thought it would be an awesome gift for my mom’s birthday instead of a bouquet of flowers or cookies,” said Valente. “Something meaningful that she could keep for a very long time.”
Valente paid $65 for a custom order, which, according to the company’s website, could take up to six weeks to make. Valente said she waited, but when the mid-February deadline passed, she began to worry.
“Several weeks go by [and] no update, no word,” said Valente. “At that point it was when I started to send her emails asking for any updates on when she expected my creation to be done and sent out.”
Shortly after sending her second email requesting an update on her order, Valente got a generic email that said her item had shipped. However, Valente says it never arrived to her mom’s house in Illinois.
By March, Valente requested a refund, but she never heard back from Samantha and Company Decor.
“It kind of makes me feel like the bad guy for having to report someone, but at the same time, that’s my money,” said Valente. “I felt like I needed to say something, and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
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OTHER PEOPLE ALLEGEDLY SCAMMED TOO
The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan has received five complaints about Samantha and Company Decor since last April.
According to one report filed, a person says they spent $190 on a Christmas gift for their family member in December 2020, only for it to have not been shipped or delivered despite numerous calls, voicemails and messages.
Another complaint listed on the BBB’s profile for the company said a person ordered a wood flower box only to lose $89 dollars and get blocked on Samantha and Company Decor’s Facebook page.
“Those different complaints all claim the same thing,” said Katie Grevious. “[They] ordered a product, never got it, can’t get ahold of anybody. To this day still, almost a year later, we still are not able to get a hold of anyone at that company.”
Grevious is a communications specialist with the West Michigan BBB. She says the BBB sent multiple notices over several weeks to Samantha and Company Decor.
When the business failed to reply, the BBB changed their accreditation to an “F.”
Over the past week, FOX 17 has called and emailed Samantha and Company Decor in an attempt to get their side of the story, but did not hear back.
Records show no registration papers on file for the company with the state’s licensing agency, LARA. Any prior social media profiles now appear to be deleted.
On Tuesday, FOX 17 went to an address in Holland possibly connected to Samantha and Company Decor. Despite cars being parked in the driveway and multiple knocks, no one came to the door. However, FOX 17 could see some of the products advertised on the business’s website sitting within the house’s front porch.
“It’s not right,” said Valente, who eventually received a refund through her credit card company.
Valente says even though the incident was a year ago, the transparency issues still frustrate her. “From what I see, you do beautiful artwork, so just be honest with yourself and your company.”
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