Party refund problem: Ruth to the Rescue responds
Detroit's James Eberheart is a devoted big brother who tries to keep his little sister on the right track.
He says his family doesn't have a lot of extra money, but he wanted to do something special for kid sister's "Sweet 16th Birthday".
"She's a good girl, you know. She's been on the honor roll. She's been doing good in school, staying out of trouble ... she's the captain of her step team at school," he said about 16-year-old Nikira Robinson.
In order to celebrate her birthday in style, he reserved the VIP section of the After Dark Teen Club in Canton for the night after her birthday, Feb. 15. He paid in full, $375 in cash.
Shooting Outside the Club!
Sadly, on Feb. 8 there was a shooting outside the club in the parking lot that left a teenage boy injured. Friends and family saw the story on the news and warned Eberheart there could be a problem with the upcoming party.
"I didn't panic. I'm like okay, you know that's outside the club. They're not going to shut the club down," he told Ruth to the Rescue.
However, club owner Fred Hussein did decide to voluntarily close the club. Canton police say he's accused of ten code violation, and is facing a court hearing. Suddenly, Eberheart had to scramble to make other plans to celebrate his sister's birthday. He says he also started calling the club to get his money back, money he needed to plan something else for his sister.
"I gave him a call Friday, no answer. So, I'm like okay. Gave him a call Saturday, no answer. I called him from different numbers. I called him from work. I called him from my personal phone."
Eberheart says he tried everything he could think of, "I went on Instagram to get the number that's on the After Hour Teen Club ... I left messages just answer the phone. He says the lack of response made him worry he'd never get his money back, so he called Ruth to the Rescue, and within hours of the consumer unit getting involved, Eberheart was given his refund, plus $25 for gas.
Club Owner's Response
Ruth to the Rescue tried to contact club owner Fred Hussein for his side of the story. He spoke with a Ruth to the Rescue producer on February 19th, promised Eberheart would get his refund, and he did give make the refund hours later. Hussein agreed to meet with Local 4's Ruth Spencer on Feb. 20.
However, when she showed up she was met by Hussein's attorney, Freddy Sackllah. The attorney said he was authorized to speak for his client about the situation surrounding Eberheart's refund.
"Please understand that we're sorry. It was not our plan or intention to close the nightclub," said Sackllah.
The dispute over the refund came down to two basic points. Why couldn't Eberheart contact someone with the club? And, did he receive his refund in a timely fashion?
Sackllah said if Eberheart just had the right contact information, he would have received a refund more quickly. However, Ruth Spencer asked, how were customers supposed to have the correct information, if the club was closed and the phone wasn't being answered?
"I would go knocking on the door, or I would go knocking on the door of other tenants next door and say, 'Hey, do you know the actual owner or contact information?" said Sackllah.
That seemed like a lot of effort for the customer to go through, and Spencer asked if the club could post a contact number on its doors, so other customers would know how to reach someone. Sackllah said he would post the number to his office, and promised other customers in situations like Eberheart's would be compensated.
Sackllah also defended the speed of the resolution.
"Within 14 days, when you got a whole business and everything closing down, it takes a little bit of time for everyone to put their ducks and Q's in a row."
For Eberheart, it was the lack of communication that made him so concerned. He said if someone from the club had contacted him, and reassured him that a refund was forthcoming, he may not have contacted Ruth to the Rescue.
"$375 to a lot of people is not a lot, but it's a lot of money when you don't have it," he told Ruth to the Rescue.
If you made reservations and paid money to the After Dark Teen Club in Canton, please contact this number to talk to someone about a refund: 248-348-5555. Please contact Ruth to the Rescue if you run into additional problems at 313-298-WDIV or firstname.lastname@example.org