kristi_muller

Designer/Furniture Store Took My Money and Won't Deliver

Kristi Muller
May 9, 2019

Hi - I've been in a home renovation project since Jan with a GC and a Designer. In February, our Designer took $20,000 from me for an invoice full of all the furniture for our updated rooms. She installed about 9K worth on 3/9, and said the rest would be in the following week. As several delivery dates came and went, I asked for tracking number, then order confirmation numbers, and designer became hostile - and quit, but with $10K of our money still in hand. I have been able to confirm via 1 vendor, and later by the Designer herself as she attempted to "cut a deal" and give me $2200 of the 10K in furniture, if I agreed to give her another $2500, then later an offer to give me 4900 of it (but wrote she'd have to order or go buy it) for $2500 - which tells me she spent my money months ago .


Once company, Destination Lighting, worked hard to get me answers, but ultimately they can't deliver the items I paid for. Alder and Tweed Furniture wrote on my Insta account they'd help, but they have not responded (of the items received, most is there, and one item is damaged and another non-functional - a table the top won't screw on to - maybe two different tables. Uttermost says they can't discuss the details of direct customers transactions, but I called there a month ago and a rep on the phone has already admitted that my orders were never placed.


I'm trying to find out if this is a common problem? If so are there groups advocating for change? The big furniture companies seem to act like it's not big deal, and I'm shocked by that - makes me think it's an issue they are comfortable dealing with.


I'd love any feedback or experience shares around this.

Comments (168)

  • Sammie J

    Nothing to add...just want to say all of your posters are brilliant! I'm learning a lot!!

  • Kristi Muller

    The items were left here as "loaners" she originally wrote, but later wrote that "you said you wanted" those items. That is entirely not true - they don't go with my design at all. But she did have a number of them in different vignettes in her showroom. I wasn't here when she brought them in, but the VERY next day (and yes I have screenshots :-)) she posted same chairs as deeply discounted floor samples on her Facebook page (me rolling eyes and shaking my head). The showroom is hers (been in our town for 1 year), unfortunately, so there is nowhere to take them, but that was a good idea if there were a showroom here!


    I did listen to you guys though and went into a REAL furniture/design showroom today. A large one with an incredible reputation and a long long history in the area. That was GREAT advice! I believe she/this store will help me finish out these rooms, and I am going to pick different items so I don't have to be constantly reminded of this whole nightmare. LOL


    PS - I have documentation that these items were never ordered, so they def came from her store (just can't confirm if they were boxed or floor samples), so there are no tracking numbers, etc. And still no reply from A&T - they could at least help me figure out why this table won't fit together - like is it the wrong top to the bottom, and help me make that right. The lack of accountability at all up the supply chain is strange to me. Destination Lighting at least offered me discount pricing to replace the items. That would have been GREATLY appreciated from these other vendors.


    I was just so busy at work, and with the renovation and not living at home with 3 kids - I REALLY screwed up! But I've also never encountered someone who just dug in their heels and refused to attempt to fix things. I woulda thunk she would have gotten those orders in the moment I started asking for things like tracking numbers/order numbers a month later.


    Insurance Adjuster comes next week! Once I figure out if this works, I'll explain how they filed it for us!

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  • jlynn

    following



    Kristi Muller thanked jlynn
  • pink_peony

    Maybe I missed it in the plethora of responses since you posted, is this person still in business? Does her store still exist?

    Kristi Muller thanked pink_peony
  • Kristi Muller
    @pink_peony. Yup. Still in business. Open 1 year per the Facebook page of the business.
  • Mrs. S

    I want to chime in and say that the only thing I would do in addition to what you've done, is perhaps try to go in the store (or send someone you trust, if it's safe), and talk to the employees. What you would like to learn is WHERE she banks, WHERE her assets are: car, home, previous addresses, aliases, business partners, etc. The employees may be a wealth of information.

    Had a terrible experience with a fraudulent person once, and it turned out to be a serious druggie situation, and that person was circling the financial drain (so to speak). If there are ANY assets left, you want to know where they are. Likely she hasn't/ won't pay her store rent, might not be paying employees, but they could be a source of information. She's probably lied and cheated them too.

    If she has no assets, no money, and no way to squeeze anything from her husband, exhusband, or whatever, then I don't recommend paying an attorney. There may be nothing left to get. People like this borrow cars, or lease cars, lease homes, and have an entirely fake life.

    Kristi Muller thanked Mrs. S
  • pammykb
    Following (all the way from Sydney Australia so I can’t really offer any help but just wanted to let you know that someone from far away has her fingers crossed for you)
    Kristi Muller thanked pammykb
  • Jora

    I can't offer any advice, but I'm SO angry for you. Point is not 1 dollar or 100K, rather the principle. I'm glad to hear that you won't allow her threats to push you into muteness. Sending you good thoughts. Continue to fight, we are all on your side!

    Kristi Muller thanked Jora
  • Dawn Martinez

    "Yup. Still in business. Open 1 year per the Facebook page of the business." Wondering if you've checked her website page, in the section called "about us", it would appear she belongs to a larger group based out of Salt Lake City. Try that office for assistance... Just a thought. Best of luck to you!

    Kristi Muller thanked Dawn Martinez
  • pink_peony

    How is everyone figuring out who this person is?

    Kristi Muller thanked pink_peony
  • Holly Stockley

    How is everyone figuring out who this person is?

    Kristi's Instagram account and some Google-fu.

    Kristi Muller thanked Holly Stockley
  • elunia

    Go back through the thread - a place name is given, there is a photo of an invoice with a signature...

    Kristi Muller thanked elunia
  • allison0704

    I can't read the invoice, but the screenshot of the IG account in this thread shows the name instead of being scratched through, like the OP's IG account photo. Her IG account shows almost all gray interiors. Is that all she does? I have to sit on my fingers not to comment on any of her IG pics, considering....

    She mentions (name) Interiors on her personal FB along with the company mentioned before. Have you researched it as well?

    Kristi Muller thanked allison0704
  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    Guess they're not kidding when they said no frills.


    We are a no frills warehouse chic showroom in Frisco, TX

    Kristi Muller thanked Lori A. Sawaya
  • DLM2000-GW

    Haha! I think most of us have become quite adept at following breadcrumbs!

    Kristi Muller thanked DLM2000-GW
  • bbtrix

    I’m curious, what’s the problem with one of us just stating that name? I am so tired of unscrupulous people that lie, cheat and live without a moral compass; that do whatever they please because people fear calling them out.


    Good luck persuing this Kristi. I also would do everything in my power to expose this person and have these wrongs on her record.

    Kristi Muller thanked bbtrix
  • Helen

    I don't understand the business model. This is a furniture store (Designer Warehouse or Bauhaus LOL) that seems to have some kind of affiliation with other furniture stores in the US and forms a Design Collective or Kollective LOL.

    So the "designer" aka furniture sales person in your local store shows you photos of furniture and she orders them for you - or in the case of OP takes your money and DOESN'T order them.

    Am I missing something?

    Kristi Muller thanked Helen
  • Holly Stockley

    No, Helen, I think you've about nailed it. :-) As a business model, it was never going to work.

    I suspect the "affiliation" is a loose one, with individual boutiques mostly paying the "kollective" for advertising and website design and maintenance. It all looks more professional than working out of the trunk of a car or the back of a truck.

    Kristi Muller thanked Holly Stockley
  • bbtrix

    That’s what I’m understanding. The Kollective is a website for selling/marketing. From the website:

    PURPOSE

    Design Kollective brings together brick and mortar furniture retailers with buyers seeking unique pieces of furniture from local and national retailers

    FOR THE SELLER

    Design Kollective is an online space for you to sell your in stock inventory, host your own flash sales, create your own online boutique and promote your business to the online community.

    1. List your products at your price and market your store online.
    2. Keep your inventory moving by hosting flash sales.
    3. Reach more customers locally and expand your reach regionally.
    4. Get insight on your performance to direct future buying decisions.”
    Kristi Muller thanked bbtrix
  • Dawn Martinez

    Point taken, but this Collective (with a K) isn't going to be thrilled one of their own is behaving unscrupulously. Might be worth contacting their main office, as it's listed on the web page. Smart business people don't want to be associated with other businesses that cheat clients, it's bad for everyone in the group.

    Kristi Muller thanked Dawn Martinez
  • girlnamedgalez8a

    Kristi, you need to do what you can to get the word out about her. As long as you tell the truth then you have nothing to fear. I would be posting on her FB page about what she has done to you. In other words hit her where it would hurt her the most , in her wallet. As long as you stay quiet she can cheat others out of their money. This is how my referral service in Dallas worked and I had contractors threaten me a time or two but that was all they could do because what I said or wrote about them was the truth. She might even find a way to get your money back to you if you make enough noise.

    Kristi Muller thanked girlnamedgalez8a
  • iamtiramisu
    Wow this is insane. So glad you’ve gotten such great advice and continue to pursue. Cheering you on from the northeast....
    Kristi Muller thanked iamtiramisu
  • salonva

    I just looked at the FB page and was so very tempted to post something....but I did not. It links to her personal page too. OMG

    Kristi Muller thanked salonva
  • Holly Stockley

    I strongly suspect she has just gotten WAY in over her head, rather than that she intended to set up shop as a con artist. She couldn't keep the plates spinning.

    Kristi Muller thanked Holly Stockley
  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    The design business is hard work and if you don't have a foundation at the business level, I think it is easy to get in over your head. I've had several moments over the years where I considered shutting it all down, walking away and never lookin' back.

    Kristi Muller thanked Lori A. Sawaya
  • lindacottonwood

    Lori, I for one am glad you not walked away. If that means you wouldn't have posted here, then that would be a darn shame. I have gained so much knowledge from you and

    others. I'm very grateful.


    Kristi Muller thanked lindacottonwood
  • Kristi Muller

    You guys are amazing! I totally thought about the Design Kollective, but it also looked more like a web hosting/portal sort of thing. Plus I've been SUPER careful so long as legal proceedings are outstanding, to not contact anyone who is NOT a directly "party" by being referenced on my invoice, or looped in by this person on emails regarding the conflict. Once it is over - I'm posting as any disgruntled customer would (although factually and truthfully, and nothing I've said or would ever say is anything that can't be backed by writing). :-) But trying to not be a distraction to the other processes.


    I've been threatened with legal action for Tortious Interference for contacting 2 of her vendors to see if my orders were placed, and stated, "I made payment on this date, this is what I received, this is what I am missing".


    You guys have only seen the top 30% of the issues so far (have barely started on the reno work, just because to me the furntiture purchase is so black and white), and about 10% of the photos/videos text info I have. Just showing an abundance of caution right now about what I say/do, so as not to be a distraction to the legal process. :-)


    But I'm SERIOUSLY - picking up new angles every day from you guys. I'm amending my suit tomorrow based on feedback I got last week, so please keep it coming!


    Holly Stockley Lori A. Sawaya I thought the same thing at first. I was gobsmacked when she came at me so defiantly when I caught the fact that the orders hadn't been placed 25 days later. Gobsmacked by the hostility that is. I expected she'd come clean about what she'd done with the money (if she used for an attorney or new house or her new teeth, or 7 day cruise ;-)), or just that she didn't get it done - and I actually would have worked with her, had she. We all make mistakes. But what I got was very different than that. I actually got a text (attached) that she is not afraid of the police or the courts so don't threaten her - but I HADN"T threatened her. In fact - I know better than to threaten anyone with litigation. Do it, after you've tried every means of resolution - but judeges don't like threats of litigation (which she's thrown at me numerous times, included the day after I first asked her for proof my orders were made).


    She was a stay at home mom - re-entering the workforce after 10 years, and told me a story of managing construction for Marriott when she met her husband- which I haven't been able to confirm, or not confirm, but I don't see anything about that pubilcly. And i ONLY thought I was safe because of the retail storefront in our hometown. I thought I was doing a good thing helping another woman. Then after it happened/while it was happening - I thought - "this woman doesn't understand business, but I'm sure she will be rational when she figures it out", then I checked some history prior to her recent marriage, and thought "omg -what if he's been keeping her out of trouble".


    I could post once a week for close to a year on this, but trying to go slow. Ugh.


    girlnamedgalez8aCould I chat with you sometime for a few mins? We are about to get an inspection on the actual reno, and barely anything works fully. I'd love to get some insider info on the business. If so will you email me kristictr@gmail.com. Thank you!


    Tomorrow I'll post about another room of "what we bought - what we got". Thanks for the continued support! My husband and I are so grateful - and I'm just dripping out bits slowly for now.....


  • Kristi Muller
    Ps- did y’all notice the page is STILL using the photos from my IG account ( she’s never seen my house at this state of progress, these “comments” with my photos were posted on her page a day or so after I snapped them and put them on my IG. It’s creepy to me.
  • Jennifer Hogan



    Owning your own business is hard and it is easy to get in over your head. That does not give you the right to steal money from a client. Lots of people get in over their head for many different reasons and don't resort to theft. There is no excuse for her behavior.

    Kristi Muller thanked Jennifer Hogan
  • allison0704

    Love the part of her text "we obviously will both need to compromise." Why should you compromise for less than what was previously agreed upon/what you expected?! I get so mad for you every time I revisit this thread. I am glad you are fighting this and so sorry it happened to you and your family.

    Kristi Muller thanked allison0704
  • Kristi Muller

    I wish I could post more of the screenshots from this 2 day period (4/17-4/18) after the subpeona was served, but the others reference things about where she was, why she needed time to get stuff together that I feel like aren't part of the suit, they are personal details, so I shouldn't publish. But basically it went from- I want to fix everything - to what you see in the text above - to an offer for not quite half the items (that she needed to still buy most of/order with 4 week lead time), if I drop the suit and take down my IG. And went on to write "This is a MORE THAN FAIR compromise". Some may say I should've taken what I could get, but the truth is, she's had a chair, light and fan for a month and I've asked her to drop those off many times, and so I just don't believe that anything she says she has to order would get here ever. AND - half of a property purchase is only half. We need to feel like we can go to a store in our town, purchase merchandise, and ALL of it be delivered.


    Also - I've repeatedly written to her that if she completes the project (as agreed) and all items are in, then I will pay her the remaining 2500. However that $5000 fee (I paid 2500 up front) came with numerous written agreements, that didn't happen, and it covered part of the reno management (and deep discounts on items which I didn't get), so I would pursue her seperately for a refund on that - but I DID write I would honor my original agreement when all items were delivered all along.


    And PS - SHE kept texting me on these 2 days, while I kept saying "focus on what you have going on right now, and let me know tomorrow". I finally had to say "I'm not texting you, you are texting me".

  • pink_peony

    There is a difference between a crook and a small business owner. Case in point. I just witnessed the woman i work for take out of her own pocket additional funds for fabric. She had quoted the pillows being made for our client needed a yard and a half per fabric. The work room quote came back asking for 3 yards per fabric. Instead of going back to the client and admitting her mistake she took one on the chin bought the extra yardage and the client never was even told about it. Her thought was , “I should have waited for the work room quote to come on before making that call so this is my fault”. Integrity. People still have it. Obviously not this woman.

    Kristi Muller thanked pink_peony
  • gtcircus
    Please show me the Texas law that forbids threatening litigation? If you are planning on suing someone because they haven’t performed pursuant to a written contract, it is a normal course of action to send a letter which states that “unless you perform per the contract, a lawsuit will be filed for breach by a set date.” A court isn’t going to be upset by that course of action because what if the party performs? And there is an old saying “you can’t get blood out of a turnip” - what I fear is that you spend the money on legal fees and this individual heads into bankruptcy leaving you worse off.
    Kristi Muller thanked gtcircus
  • Mrs Pete

    Question: Does she have a brick-and-mortar storefront?

    If so, hear a story about my uncle:

    After retiring from the police force, my uncle went into Real Estate. A law abiding citizen and businessman, he had an escrow account at a national bank. Someone -- we think it was an inside job -- cleaned out that escrow account, leaving him in a bad way. The bank was dragging its feet, not seeming to be all that concerned about making his situation right ...

    So he waited 'til the busiest day of the bank week: last Friday of the month, and this was about a decade ago before everyone had direct deposit and everyone went to the bank on Fridays.

    He arrived early before the lunch rush, and he nabbed a prime parking space, popped up an Easy-Up tent and set out his lawn chair. His sign simply read: Ask me about how {insert bank name here} handled the hacking of my account.

    He only sat outside for about 5 minutes before the bank manager joined him, suddenly very interested in his problems. He had literally spoken to no customers.

    The question is, HOW and WHEN can you hit this person hard in the wallet? What's her currency?

    Another thought: You have saved those "I'm not afraid of the police" texts, right?

    Last thought: The thing about tax evasion is nothing short of brilliant.

    Kristi Muller thanked Mrs Pete
  • PRO
    Lori A. Sawaya

    No one implied that getting in over her head was an excuse for what happened.


    Instead the point is maybe she got in over her head is the reason for the situation to begin with and she's so far under it is now the reason why she is unable - professionally and financially - to make things right.


    Thus all the points are valid questioning what there actually is to go after. e.g. blood from a turnip.


    Kristi Muller thanked Lori A. Sawaya
  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    I would also check your contract about using photos of your home and the rules from Instagram.

    This story keeps getting better!

    Kristi Muller thanked Debbi Washburn
  • blaze_1508

    following


    Kristi Muller thanked blaze_1508
  • pink_peony

    Instagram has a "courtesy" that if you share a photo other than your own and you KNOW the source of that photo you tag the source or state the source in your post. Most social media platforms go by this rule which is admittedly a very loose one.

    Kristi Muller thanked pink_peony
  • Dawn Martinez

    My GC wanted to use photos of my house after a major kitchen and master bath renovation; he came to me first and asked permission. It's the right thing to do; his work but my home.

    Kristi Muller thanked Dawn Martinez
  • pink_peony

    The photo disclosure is in our contract. I thought we were talking about the rules of instagram. The contract our clients sign when they hire us has a line that says Do you give permission for XXX to take photographs of the work we completed in your home? Followed by Do you give permission for XXX to use the photos to promote our business on our website and on our social media accounts? This includes but is not limited to, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. these have boxes with a yes or no after them.

    Kristi Muller thanked pink_peony
  • salonva

    Dawn wrote-: he came to me first and asked permission. It's the right thing to do; his work but my home.. That's where it gets lost here. The "professional" in this case is anything but and is not doing anything really to correct what has been "effed" up. No courtesy no doing the right thing. Desperate times and desperate measures. ( I am referring to the "professional"- not Kristi).

    Kristi Muller thanked salonva
  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    We too ask for our customer's permission. This is different - the "business" copied the photos off the customer's Instagram account... I don't know about whether they referenced anything or not...

    Kristi Muller thanked Debbi Washburn
  • PRO
    RL Relocation LLC

    I went to her IG and didnt see them? is she posting and then taking them down?

    Kristi Muller thanked RL Relocation LLC
  • allison0704

    They are on the company's FB page.

    Kristi Muller thanked allison0704
  • Jora

    I went on her FB page and sure enough the pictures were there, however I didn't see any reference to the pix. If I hadn't read this post, and I came across the 'professionals' FB page, I'd believe it was her work!

    Kristi Muller thanked Jora
  • Kristi Muller

    New “what I bought - what I got” post up on IG @designdreamordisaster thanks for the support!!

  • Kristi Muller
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>The poster who commented about all the grey interior this person does will love this! I also told her I don’t want a grey bedroom but it’s not in writing so I didn’t post it. But you are so right!
  • Liz

    I've been following along and am wondering if you've made any further progress, Kristi? I sincerely hope you have!

  • DCF440

    Following. Holy cow.

  • cpartist

    Any updates?

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