By Mike Rush
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Newlyweds building their lives together hit a bump and call 5 on Your Side for help.
Mike Rush confronts a business that's built a reputation bad enough to warrant an alert from the Better Business Bureau.
The beauty and wonder of a new refrigerator. It's magnified for Laura and Jonathan Merchant by the fact that, for a while, they didn't have one at all.
"We had a little tiny picnic cooler and we took everything out to the porch so we could actually keep it from spoiling," said Jonathan.
To know why, you need to know a running theme with this couple is "new." They're newly married, just moved into their new home, they even have a new puppy, Kilobyte. But when they needed appliances, the Merchants went off script.
"Most of what I buy is used," said Laura. "I don't buy things new very often."
So, in December, they went to Big Frank's Discount Appliances in Florissant. They picked out a washer and dryer set and a refrigerator at Big Frank's, and put down a $500 deposit.
But once Big Frank's had its money, they didn't get their goods.
"The delivery actually never happened," said Laura. "We would call back like often and they said okay they're on the next truck.
"I can't believe they're still in business to be honest," said Jonathan.
"And they'd say it wasn't on the truck. I don't know who was on the truck, but it wasn't," said Laura.
Tired of the runaround, the Merchants bought what they needed elsewhere and say Big Frank's agreed to refund their deposit. But months later, they never got it.
They reported their problem to the Better Business Bureau, which says many of those hot deals often come with heated complaints.
"Fifty three complaints in the past three years," said BBB Spokesman Chris Thetford. "F grade with the BBB."
The Merchants also contacted 5 on Your Side.
When Mike Rush called Big Frank's, a man identifying himself as Kevin Davis, a manager, told Mike they called the Merchants more than a week earlier and told them their refund check was there.
The Merchants say they never got that call. So to make sure they got the check, Mike went with them to Big Frank's.
The guy who was there, who identified himself first as Devin, and later as Batman, said the manager wasn't there and gave Mike a reception about as cold as the refrigerators he peddles.
Rush: "He said it was waiting for them. Is it here? We can just pick it up?"
Guy: "Okay, well I have to have the boss unlock the safe so I can get it for you. And please step back there, thank you very much."
But instead, he called the police.
Rush: "So, why did you tell me you were calling your boss to open the safe to get the check when all you're really doing is calling the police?"
Guy: "Actually, I was until you totally disrespected me and got beyond where I said this is a service area only."
The quality of our conversation never increased, but the next moments remained eventful. The man made another call.
"I've got Channel 5 here, I'm waving," he said to someone on the phone.
The police showed up and didn't see a reason to make us leave and my new friend tried to make me a customer.
Guy: "What can I help you guys with? Would you like a washer/dryer or anything?"
Rush: "Not from this place. You guys have a lot of complaints."
But the foolishness led to a big finish. The store agreed to credit the $500 back to the Merchant's credit card.
"I'm glad it's over with because that was just crazy," said Laura.
"The only guys that called us back were you guys at Channel 5," said Jonathan.
Rush to the guy: "Don't you owe it to your customers as to why this has happened?"
Guy: "I don't owe you anything."
Rush: "I'm talking about them."
Guy: "You want to be a customer, I'll be glad to sell you something, but you're not my customer and I'm done talking to you."
Rush: "You do understand I'm talking about the Merchants, right?"
Guy: "No, I'm special. I don't understand nothing."
A man identifying himself as customer service for Big Frank's called Mike Rush after Mike's visit. The man disputes the BBB's tally of complaints, saying most happened when the business had a different name and different owners.
But the BBB stands by its findings. An investigator tells Mike it appears the same family has been tied to the store, under various names, for a number of years.