BRECKSVILLE, Ohio - A 5-year mystery of missing heirloom furniture that plagued Pauline Rechichi of Brecksville has finally been solved.
Rechichi's prized antique furniture will soon be returned to her home, after a derailed refinishing job held her pieces in limbo since late 2006.
Rechichi said she hired Michael Fowler and Chagrin Station Antiques to refinish a 1940s armoire/chifferobe and a Victorian dresser. Rechichi claimed she paid Fowler more than $1,200 for the work.
However, Rechichi reports Fowler gave her dozens of excuses, year after year, as to why the job was never completed.
"I made 18 telephone calls, and he gave me crazy information," said Rechichi. "He didn't have the key to the warehouse, that the dresser was too sticky to move."
Rechichi claimed Fowler moved her furniture from warehouse to warehouse, so she contacted the Brecksville Police Department.
Rechichi was so frustrated, she even made drawings of her missing pieces, just so she could remember what they looked like. She explained the search for her heirlooms has taken countless hours.
"It's like another job in my life," said Rechichi. "I have been waiting for this man to return the two pieces since 2006."
The NewsChannel5 Troubleshooter unit took the case, and along with Rechichi's leg work, tracked the missing furniture to a Northeast Ohio antique shop.
The shop owner confirmed Fowler was renting space in their warehouse, but would not release any furniture without Fowler's approval.
5 On Your Side contacted Fowler, and within 12 hours Fowler made arrangements to finally return Rechichi's heirlooms.
Fowler has also agreed to a payment plan in working to give Rechichi a full refund. 5 On Your Side will continue to follow up on this case.
Consumers should keep a number things in mind before booking refinishing services:
- Always obtain full contact information from a contractor before signing a contract and issuing a downpayment.
- Ask for a complete contract, and get a "completion date" for the project listed in the agreement "in writing."
- Never pay "in-full" up-front for refinishing work, it is customary to only pay for the supplies needed for the job in advance.
- Ask for references, check the companies Better Business Bureau record, and ask to see samples of their work before signing a contract.
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