Shopping Network Runaround

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Barbara Berg of Clinton said a television home shopping business seemingly disappeared with her money.  The Troubleshooters dug deeper and found Berg is by no means alone when it comes to complaints against the business.

    Berg said Direct Shopping Network, based in Glendale, California, owes her nearly $1,100 for a strand of pearls she returned for a refund.

    The Better Business Bureau has compiled nearly 260 complaints against Direct Shopping Network, including allegations of delivery delays, customer service issues and difficulties obtaining refunds.

    Direct Shopping Network, also known as DSN, specializes in jewelry and gemstones.  Berg said because of DSN's return policy, she bought the pearls knowing that she could send them back.  But she said when she received the pearls, they were not exactly what she had seen on television.

    "It was similar to what they had showed.  But when I put it on, I realized, oh, this isn't for me," Berg said.

    Berg said she followed the return policy but got the run-a-round instead.

    "I must have called fifteen times and nothing," Berg said.  "I've been waiting a year to get my money back."

    Berg filed a small claims court lawsuit against DSN.  However, the lawsuit was dismissed after Berg could not make the trip to California to represent herself in court.

    Meantime, DSN's creditors have initiated involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against the company.  DSN is fighting the proceedings and the company is still in limited operation.

    The company recently moved out of its administrative offices at Glendale Studios.  According to a representative of the studio, DSN had not paid rent for a year.

    “We gave them notice,” said facilities manager Eric Fischer.  "They were here for 11 years, so I think out of a courtesy, we've tried to kind of give some leeway to let them get out of their funk."

    DSN continues to produce its programming, which runs online and in a few east coast markets.  DSN ran for years on DirecTV until it was pulled last October for non-payment.

    However, owner and host Art Garabedian said his company still has a good relationship with DirecTV.  He said DSN is downsizing and plans to come back strong in the near future.

    Garabedian said a dispute with a credit card processor led to the customer refund mess.  According to Garabedian, those issues were recently resolved and those DSN customers seeking refunds will get their money back.

    Garabedian said that includes Berg.

    If you run into a similar situation with a business that seemingly disappears, don't give up on your refund.  See if the manufacturer's warranty covers you.  If you paid by credit card, you may be able to dispute the charge to get your money back.  Also, be sure to keep your receipts and consider the courts or law enforcement as last resorts.

    What happens if you have an unused gift card to a business no longer operating?  It's often up to the courts to decide if a company has to honor the gift card.  The BBB said the best advice is to use it while you can.