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Advice with "Lost" Picture


Dmiles23

So this is the situation I am in, and I'm not sure how to proceed... so I'm hoping someone has some advice for me.

 

So a while ago I took a couple signed canvas into a store to get framed. I had done business with this store owner a number of times in the past and had a good relationship with him. For the first few months after I dropped the canvases off, I would stop into the store and he would say "Hey... I apologize. I have to sharpen the blades on my saw. I'll try to do that this weekend and give you a call when your canvases are done." And I was patient with him because he'd framed other things for me and I had bought numerous things from him.

 

After about a year of this, I finally told him that if he wasn't going to get to my canvases in the next week, I wanted them back and a refund. He told me that he would get them done for me to pick up that week. So I stopped in that Friday and he had one of them complete for me, but when I asked about the other one, he claimed that I had taken it back to get more autographs on it. I told him that wasn't the case, and he said he would do some more looking. That was about 6 months ago.

 

I was patient with him again for a couple months, but for the last 4ish months I've started to get frustrated. He has stopped returning my calls. He doesn't return my emails. I have stopped into the store many times, but he has never been around. I ask the person working to leave him a message to call me, but he never does. So last week I stopped in, and made the person working call him... and he actually answered for her. He still claimed that I had taken it back, but asked the gal working to give me his card and have me email him to discuss this. She gave me the card, and it's the same email I've tried to email him before without a reply. So Saturday morning, I emailed him again... and still have not heard back.

 

Any recommendations on how to handle this situation? I would just keep stopping in, but the store is out of my way... but I'm thinking that's probably the best bet. When I was explaining the situation to the gal working the store, she surprisingly recommended that I should contact the authorities. But I'm thinking that's not going to help matters much. I don't know how to proceed!

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Wow! Better Business Bureau perhaps?

 

I'd give him one more chance to make it right, and if not, go to the police. This kind of stuff just sucks. You'll probably never get your picture back, and even if he pays you for the loss, it just isn't the same as your picture.

 

I'd look into the BBB as well as call the police.

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You could also try to contact the news team of a local station and see if they would be willing to do an investigative piece on this. See this type of stuff all the news...like "4 on your side" or "Consumer action I team" or something like that.

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This kind of stuff just sucks. You'll probably never get your picture back, and even if he pays you for the loss, it just isn't the same as your picture.

 

This is exactly my thought. It was actually a canvas of Prince Fielder from "The Bomb" game where he's standing on home plate with his arms up. I was at that game, Prince Fielder is my favorite player, and now he's in Detroit and not accessible to try to get it signed again. That's part of the reason why I'm giving him so much time. I keep telling myself "Maybe he'll find it." I would rather have the canvas than any other compensation he could give me. But I think it's time to start to move past that and realize that it's gone.

 

Thanks to everyone for their recommendations!

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Wow! Better Business Bureau perhaps?

 

I'd give him one more chance to make it right, and if not, go to the police. This kind of stuff just sucks. You'll probably never get your picture back, and even if he pays you for the loss, it just isn't the same as your picture.

 

I'd look into the BBB as well as call the police.

 

The BBB is pretty much a joke. I wouldn't expect any recourse through them. Contacting a local TV station might be worthwhile. Personally, I'd probably just make myself a total pest and constantly show up at the store whenever I could, and loudly ask around other customers, "Hey! Did you guys find my picture yet? It's already been XX months!" Make it really uncomfortable for the owner and the employees.

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I would say first call the police. I could see the police asking you to prove that you gave it to them, and if you can't prove it, may decide they have better things to do.

 

If that doesn't work, stand outside of the store front on public ground (sidewalk) holding up a sign that says, "(store owner's name or business name) won't return my signed canvas". Be careful what you put on the sign, make sure it's factual so that he can't sue you for something. Saw this once in CA - a couple standing on the sidewalk in front of a used car dealership on PCH holding up a sign that said "(business) sells lemons" and waving at busy rush hour traffic crawling by. They weren't there later that day. Business owners will quickly realize this can cost them a lot more than they stand to make on you and will work to resolve it very quickly. If you do something inside the store or on private ground, they can call the police on you.

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That's just crazy. If he's avoiding you and not answering your texts, then chances are he did sell it. I don't know where you went to get this done, but there is no way it should of taken this long for them to do it. I'd contact the BBB and give one of the local news stations a call. Chances are you probably aren't the only one that this has happen to at this place of business.
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Unless you see the picture being sold online or something I'm not sure the police are the best option. The whole criminal aspect, which is what they deal with, requires them to prove that the picture was stolen before they can do anything about it. If the pic cannot be located it is going to be hard to prove that the framer guy actually stole it. What would happen if the police even responded is that you are going to say you dropped it off and he is going to say he gave it back. They'll have zero evidence to actually do anything about it unless, like I said, you see the picture being sold.

 

I think a much more effective strategy would be to contact a lawyer and go about this civilly. Essentially, sue the guy.

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Paul- That was my thought as well if I called the police. I believe I do still have the receipt... but it doesn't give any information at all. I'll be in the area again today, so I'm planning on stopping in again. We'll see.

 

The place is called Onto the Field in Madison. I believe their main location is in the East Towne Mall, but I think they have kiosks in a few other places in Madison.

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Unless you see the picture being sold online or something I'm not sure the police are the best option. The whole criminal aspect, which is what they deal with, requires them to prove that the picture was stolen before they can do anything about it. If the pic cannot be located it is going to be hard to prove that the framer guy actually stole it. What would happen if the police even responded is that you are going to say you dropped it off and he is going to say he gave it back. They'll have zero evidence to actually do anything about it unless, like I said, you see the picture being sold.

 

I think a much more effective strategy would be to contact a lawyer and go about this civilly. Essentially, sue the guy.

 

 

This. I would contact a lawyer and if they recommend going to the cops do so but it looks like a lawsuit is your best course of action.

 

Just out of curiosity, what is the dollar value for the missing item?

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A lawsuit is going to cost you money. If the value of the item is less than $1000 you can file in small claims court and not have to pay an attorney. But the risk with a lawsuit of any type is that if he wins the suit (or you can't prove your case) then no only do you not get your item back but you also have to pay legal fees and court costs for both you and him, and that will be the end of it.

 

I would recommend going to the police first. If nothing else, he will be forced to talk to the police - if he dodges the police it will make him look guilty and could get him arrested if he doesn't talk to them. Hopefully you still have a copy of the emails you sent him in your Sent folder; print them out (as far back as you can) and bring them with you when you talk to the police. That will make your case much stronger. You don't have to claim he sold it or did anything with it; you just have to claim that he didn't give it back. It's your property and if he won't give it back that's theft.

 

If the police do nothing, then protest outside of the store. Bring the emails with you in case mall security gets called. That's another idea - if the store is in East Town Mall, go to mall management with copies of the emails. The owners of the mall don't want to lease to bad businesses, it's bad P.R. and will steer customers away from the mall so they will likely listen.

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I wonder what kind of records the guy keeps? If he records when people take their stuff back without getting the work done he would have to show that. Since he doesn't have anything that says you took it back (or if he does it's fraudulent) and you have proof you dropped it off, he is going to be on the short end of the "his story vs. your story" argument. I think you have most of the proof on your side in the way of emails and phone records primarily since he claimed that he was going to have it ready numerous times and then changed his story all of a sudden. Like Louis Ely said, if the item is not worth a king's ransom then small claims court might be the way to go. I still think consulting with an attorney is a wise course of action if you can get free advice.
"Dustin Pedroia doesn't have the strength or bat speed to hit major-league pitching consistently, and he has no power......He probably has a future as a backup infielder if he can stop rolling over to third base and shortstop." Keith Law, 2006
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If you can get "free" advice, it doesn't hurt. I just question how many attorneys are going to tell you to not file a lawsuit since filing lawsuits and taking legal action is how attorneys get paid. Maybe one of the attorneys on this board would be kind enough to chime in (perhaps change the title of the thread and add "legal advice needed" to encourage any attorneys to read it). The police will definitely give you free advice.

 

Did this guy ever reply to any emails? I know you said he doesn't return them now, but any written documentation you have from him will strengthen your case.

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To get caught up on some of the questions...

 

I honestly don't know what the value is. I would say between $300-400. But then I also paid $100 to get it framed.

 

I'm pretty sure that when I dropped off my items, he just used a basic Excel spreadsheet with very basic information (name, number, item) for his record. I'm not sure if he does the same thing, but that's what he did back when I dropped it off.

 

I do have some emails he replied to. The last one I have was the one of him telling me that my one canvas was complete and that I took the other one back. I have 6 emails including the one I sent last week, and another I sent today, that he did not reply to.

 

I stopped into the store again today, and he was not there. I was somewhat in a hurry and the one worker was busy with other customers, so I didn't ask. But I did email him this afternoon telling him I was going to try to contact him one last time before I called the police and possibly filed a claim in small claims court. I actually have a week off of work in 2 weeks, so I may just have to stop in and hang out there for the day. :)

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Don't let this guy off the hook.

 

Next time you stop in and he isn't there, ask an employee when he will be back next...

"I'm sick of runnin' from these wimps!" Ajax - The WARRIORS
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The official name of the outfit is On 2 the Field and it has East Towne and West Towne Mall locations (both in Madison for those not familiar).

At least one other person has been unhappy after doing business with them, if not quite for identical reasons: http://local.yahoo.com/info-33014822-on-2-the-field-madison

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It would seem small claims court is your best bet. If you do go with an attorney their fees will more than likely eat up most if not all of the $500 you would recover. This way you can represent yourself, force this guy to answer for what he has done, and if he doesn't show up you win.
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I'd put the guy on blast via the local media. Im not sure how the news outlets are up in Madison, but at least here in Phoenix the news channels eat these kind of stories like candy.

Channel 3 in Madison has this "call for action" thing where they will investigate consumer complaints. The contact information is part of this page.

Remember: the Brewers never panic like you do.
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Nearest I can tell though, there is no actual proof here, correct?

 

If thats the case, sure go to court to make your point, but I don't see what you can reasonably expect to accomplish. Sorry, this situation sounds pretty disappointing in general.

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