Sunday, October 12, 2003

Shop's new owner working to replace wedding gowns



By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - Some of the brides walked down the aisle at Traders World Flea Market Saturday in tears, others with smiles, and still others more uncertain than ever whether they will ever get their wedding and bridesmaid dresses.

The former Bridal Shoppe opened Saturday under new ownership as Charmain's Bridal, with a room full of angry brides, receipts in hand showing they paid hundreds of dollars for dresses they have yet to receive.

HOT LINE SET UP
Ex-bridal shop owner Jill Dixon has set up a hot line for dissatisfied customers.

The hot line was established even as The Bridal Shoppe at Traders World, now known as Charmain's Bridal, opened Saturday for the first time since the customers' complaints were publicized.

Dixon says the shop's sales agreement makes the new owner responsible for fulfilling prior customer agreements.

Nevertheless, Police Chief Ernest Howard said Dixon issued a statement urging unhappy customers to call the new hot line, (937) 372-8030 - and, "We will personally make sure that all orders are fulfilled with no extra out-of-pocket expense."

Charmain Jones, manager of Charmain's Bridal, said at least 173 brides-to-be purchased gowns from former owner Jill Dixon. But Jones said Dixon's records did not have names, addresses or telephone numbers to go with the orders. A handful of the dresses were in stock, but most were not.

Jones leafed through a 10-page list of last names searching for each of the 50 or so customers who arrived Saturday. If a name was on the list, the dress was either in stock or on order. If the name wasn't on the list, the gown had not been ordered.

Jones had several suggestions Saturday for the women not on the list:

• If the gown was bought with a credit card, dispute the charge and get your money back.

• If bought with cash, call the Montgomery County Prosecutor's office at (937) 225-4715and file a complaint.

The shop is offering dresses - either off the rack or through special order - at $150 to those customers.

"We're going to absorb a $100,000 loss out of our own pocket for this," Jones said. "We can't do better than that. If we do, we'll go bankrupt."

Jones dismissed Dixon's hot line, established last week to field complaints from customers who haven't yet received their gowns:

"Why is it on the customers to call when she has taken the money, the names and the phone numbers at the time of purchase?" Jones asked. Dixon was unavailable for comment Saturday, but her hotline number is (937) 372-8030. Dixon is still responsible for delivering dresses purchased from her Dayton store, because Charmain's Bridal did not buy that business.

Tiffanie Faulkner, a 26-year-old Monroe resident getting married in May, was not on the list. She thought Jones handled the situation as well as could be expected, but Faulkner still wasn't happy.

"She was very nice, but I'm not getting my dress," Faulkner said. "I put mine on Visa, and I've already talked to them so I'm getting my money back. But this is one of the most important times in my life, and I just can't believe it. I feel sorry for the girls with a wedding this month or next."

Melanie Behler, a Springfield Township resident who is getting married in November 2004, left the shop in tears. She'll get her money back, but not the $700 dress she fell in love with.

"It's the dress I wanted and I don't know if I'll be able to find it anywhere else," Behler said.

E-mail dklepal@enquirer.com




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