Consumers Claim Boot Seller Reneged On Orders
A NewsChannel 5 investigation found dozens of people claiming they were ripped off by a Nashville man selling boots online.
Consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus talked with the victims and tracked down the man behind it all.
In downtown Nashville, you'll find lots of country music and cowboy boots.
And all along Lower Broad, you'll find people who've come to Music City not only for the music but in search of boots.
"Nashville's a great place for cowboy boots," says Blythe Knechtel.
Knechtel, who lives in Seattle, wanted boots from Nashville and since actually coming here was out of the question, she turned to the Internet.
She found Aaron's Bunk House Boots selling boots online right from the heart of Middle Tennessee.
"They have a huge selection," Knechtel adds.
Knechtel says she found the boots she wanted, ordered them, paid for them, and then waited, but nothing ever came.
"I didn't get squat," Knechtel insists.
"This is the way this company does business," says Kathleen Calligan of the Better Business Bureau.
The organization has received dozens of complaints about Aarons from customers around the country said the same thing happened to them.
Others have complained that they got the wrong boots.
"It'll be one boot of one kind and then the left one will be of another kind," Calligan notes.
Knechtel says she "got really mad."
But what really upsets customers is when they try calling Aaron's, "no one called back," Knechtel says.
Or if they tried sending emails and faxes to the customer service line, Knechtel said it's the same reaction: "No reply."
When trying to find out where their boots are or get refunds, some consumers said Aaron's doesn't respond.
"They're just taking people's money," says Dane Browder.
Browder lives in North Carolina. He ordered boots to replace an older pair.
"My credit card's been charged," Browder says.
But the company never sent his boots and never answered his calls.
"That says, ‘I've got your money, thank you and I'm done with you,'" Calligan insists.
That's why the Better Business Bureau has repeatedly included Aaron's on its list of companies to avoid.
"It wouldn't surprise me if we saw the people behind this company selling out of the back of the car," Calligan says.
Kraus tracked down the man behind Aaron's Bunk House Boots and found he actually runs the company out of his living room.
He sells boots right from the front porch of a rented house near Brentwood.
"Sir, all of these people complained to the Better Business Bureau, saying that you didn't send them their boots," Kraus says to Steve Hedrick.
But Hedrick insists he sends customers their orders just as fast as he can.
"They're getting their boots," Hedrick claims. "Some of them don't get out just as quick as they want them."
And customers, he says, need just need to be patient.
"It's been a whole year," Knechtel responds.
Hedrick insists, "Their boots are coming to them."
Browder said he couldn't contact Hedrick.
Hedrick said customers just need to understand that he has neither the time nor the patience to deal with each customer individually.
"I can't answer all of them," he says. "There's too many of them."
"That's not how a legitimate business operates," Calligan says.
Calligan said Aaron's is doing is giving folks around the country the wrong impression of Nashville and how we do business here.
"It's like you put your trust in somebody and then you feel like you're getting the shaft," Browder says.
Hedrick admits he's made some mistakes.
He says he apparently forgot to place the orders of the Browder and Knechtel. And while he never did give either of them a refund, they did get their money back through their credit card companies.
To avoid similar problems, consumers should know who they're buying from and check with the Better Business Bureau as well as research online, such as searching on Google the company's name. Chances are if there are problems, you'll find complaints.
Also, carefully check out the company's website. With Aaron's Bunkhouse Boots, there's no phone number listed, only an out-of-state fax number, which should be a red flag.