5 On Your Side

Cary woman: 'Unprofessional' designer failed to deliver furniture

Posted December 14, 2010 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated December 14, 2010 7:04 p.m. EST

— With the upcoming holidays, many people want their houses to look just right. But one Cary woman says she has been waiting months to get $27,000 worth of furniture that she purchased.

Samira Tahtawi called WRAL’s 5 on Your Side after Showcase Windows and Interiors, a Greensboro-based company, failed to deliver her furniture.

Tahtawi hired Showcase owner Kelley Varner to be her interior decorator after seeing an ad in a Cary magazine.

“(Varner) was very energetic. She was very eager. She was here every week to take down some of the ordering that we had decided on. She was very helpful in designing how the room should look,” Tahtawi said.

From the end of May to mid-June, Tahtawi ordered everything from draperies to furniture to mirrors. She paid half up front and, according to the contract, the other half was due "upon installation." It was supposed to take eight to 10 weeks.

“Then when (Varner) came back and told me that the delivery was imminent, she requested the full balance be paid,” Tahtawi said. “And I made a comment as to, ‘Oh, I've never paid the balance until the items are actually in the house.’ She said, ‘I really can't get the items until you pay me in full.’”

“At the time, I felt like if I didn't pay her I wouldn't get the items, so I went ahead and paid the check,” she added.

Tahtawi said all she received from the $27,000 order were draperies. She said Varner had many excuses for repeated canceled delivery dates, including everything from health problems to family emergencies.

Tahtawi said the final straw was when Varner canceled the delivery at the last minute on Nov. 19.

“I left her a message and said, ‘I'm going to have to get more aggressive with you at this point, because this is unacceptable. It's unprofessional, and you've been paid for all this,’” Tahtawi said.

Tahtawi called 5 on Your Side, which found that plenty of other people were having problems with Varner. The Better Business Bureau listed 19 complaints, and most involved delivery issues.

When 5 on Your Side called Varner, she said she was "floored” and blamed the delays on her mother's illness. She said she missed the Nov. 19 delivery because "something came up." Varner also said she offered Tahtawi a free $8,000 sofa for her trouble.

“I said, ‘No, I didn't need a couch. I needed the furniture I'd already ordered,’” Tahtawi said.

Varner then left a message for Tahtawi saying she wanted to schedule a delivery, but she did not offer a specific date. Part of the problem, according to Tahtawi, is that Varner insists that, as the designer, she has to be there.

“I've said, ‘You don't actually have to be here. I know how things have to look, so I could be here with the delivery people,’” Tahtawi said. “At this point, I just want this taken care of. I just want her to do what she needs to do, and finish the job.”

After further conversation, Varner agreed to deliver the furniture last Friday.