Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Carolina Farmhouse/Cecil Mack Co. status update

It has been quite some time since I've updated with information on the ongoing situation.  In fact my last update was back in June.

I still have new customers reaching out to me that want to know what to do.  I was trying to continue to update with what the status is to date.  Honestly I will say it just emotionally had me drained.  It is such a negative energy that I am tired of having in our life.  So... unfortunately there isn't anything new that is positive.  I am providing the email status from the attorney that represents the Utt-Grubbs as they move forward.

There's much I'd like to say (concerns mostly), but I think the status updates speak for themselves.  I haven't heard anything since August 9 (almost a month).

My husband & I have come to the conclusion that we probably will never see the almost $2,000 we paid them ever again...it's devastating!  I can't lie...I am angry, bitter and seething with disappointment, but I need to move forward with our lives with positive things.

So if you are curious about where & what is going on...

From: John Szymankiewicz
To:
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 2:35 PM
Subject: Carolina Farmhouse Refund List - Update 2

All -
You are receiving this broadcast email because you are owed money by Carolina Farmhouse and you have an established place on the "Refund List." Please read the following carefully:

 Updates and Backround
I have updated my website (at http://www.jslawcenter.com/carolina-farmhouse/) with additional FAQs as of today, July 12, 2013.

 Additionally, if this is the first time you’re receiving this type of communication, please review the website above and the previous communication(s) there.

 "What's next?"
As I said, I've spoke with many of you directly already on this issue.
 I can tell you all that the time since the last communication (on June 19), many thing have not improved or changed substantially for Carolina Farmhouse, Cecil Mack, or the Utt-Grubbs generally.
 For example, the total orders for Carolina Farmhouse / Cecil Mack in the past ~30 days were only a few hundred dollars. This represents the only income for the companies and the Utt-Grubbs. Much of the income that has come in for the company is going to materials for orders.
 We are still hopeful that we will begin paying Refund List customers within the next 30 or so days, though how that will happen is not entirely clear at this point. Additional work is being done to try and increase orders through marketing, social media, etc.
 The Utt-Grubbs are also looking at additional employment opportunities to generate income to pay Refund List customers.
 Living Too Well
I have heard from several folks that the Utt-Grubbs are going on lavish vacations, buying new cars, and generally “living too well.” I can assure you that this is not currently the case. The Utt-Grubbs have taken vacations earlier this year (paid for largely by their family to visit them) and did replace their cars (last year), when the business was in a much better financial position.
 That I am aware of, there are not substantial assets that we’re “trying to hide.” To my knowledge, the Utt-Grubbs are trying to pay their living expenses (with limited success), that is all.
 I understand that many, if not all, of you may feel cheated or robbed. I can assure you that was not the intent of anyone at Carolina Farmhouse or the Utt-Grubbs. In fact, the Utt-Grubbs continue to assure me that it is their intention to see that everyone that is owed money is paid back.
 Now, what does that mean for those on the Refund List?
 I understand that many people feel that they want Carolina Farmhouse and/or the Utt-Grubbs punished. (as a personal aside, not being sure how you’re going to pay your bills next month, I argue, is a pretty significant punishment especially with school age children). First, in the absence of “intentional fraud,” “malice,” or “theft,” there is no criminal conduct here and, even if there were, I doubt there would be jail time associated with any such conviction. Also, I use quotation marks around those the words “intentional fraud,” “malice,” and “theft,” for a reason – these are legal terms of art with specific definitions and standards of proof, not that you feel that they stole from you or that you believe there was fraud.
 Second, your private right of action against Carolina Farmhouse, Cecil Mack, or the Utt-Grubbs is a civil matter, feel free to hire an attorney and pursue legal action. Past customers have done so and are also waiting on being paid (and are on the Refund List). At this point, legal action will not get you paid substantially faster and may only result in you additional expense of attorneys fees and court costs.
 Disclaimer: I am not your lawyer. I represent Carolina Farmhouse and the Utt-Grubs. I believe your best chance of receiving your refund is to wait your turn on the Refund List. It has been made clear to me that the Utt-Grubbs do not intend to file for bankruptcy protection and they want to ensure that everyone is paid back.  However, if the Utt-Grubbs are forced to file for bankruptcy protection, I assure you that no one on the Refund List is likely to receive any substantial payment and any underlying debts would be discharged. Please consult with an attorney, or have your attorney contact me, if you would like to verify this statement.
Conclusion
Again, I understand this is frustrating and painful for everyone. I’m sorry that we are not able to provide you with a full refund immediately. I am sorry that it will take some time for you to receive your refund. I am sorry that you feel cheated or lied to. I can only ask for your patience in this process and to relay the information that I have.
 My website at http://www.jslawcenter.com can be a resource (there is a page dedicated to Carolina Farmhouse issues) as we will be posting updates, announcements, and communications on a regular basis. My contact information is below. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Email is often the best method to reach me.
 Please look for additional communications approximately every two to four weeks for the Refund List and more frequent communications individually as we near your position "in line" for refunds.
 Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation as we work toward getting you paid back as soon as possible.

John

*************************************************************************


From: John Szymankiewicz
To:
Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 1:23 PM
Subject: Carolina Farmhouse Refund List - Update 3

All -
 You are receiving this broadcast email because you are owed money by Carolina Farmhouse and you have an established place on the "Refund List." Please read the following carefully:
 Updates and Backround
I have updated my website (at http://www.jslawcenter.com/carolina-farmhouse/) as of today, August 9, 2013.
 Additionally, if this is the first time you’re receiving this type of communication, please review the website above and the previous communication(s) there.
 “What’s going on?”
 I've spoke with many of you directly already to let you know the status of refunds or your particular place in the refund list.
 However, I am sad to report that financial issues for Carolina Farmhouse, Cecil Mack, and the Utt-Grubbs continue to deteriorate in many respects. For example, I can report that the Utt-Grubbs are in the process of being evicted from their home. The landlord has refused to renew their lease in part because of the comments and phone calls they have received regarding Carolina Farmhouse and in part because they would prefer to sell the home and the Utt-Grubbs are not in a position to purchase it. Additionally, the lender has repossessed one of the Utt-Grubbs’ vehicles.
 As such, while not “delayed” per se, we are not able to pay off as many people as quickly as we had hoped. Some of you who were communicated a target payment timeline (such as 30-60 days) may see that extended somewhat. We are still working diligently to try and acquire funds to pay back former customers as quickly as possible, but because the business(es) only received ~2 orders in the last 45 days, it is becoming more difficult.
 “What are you doing about it?”
Both Kelly and Sam are actively looking for full time, salaried positions, rather than relying on the business to “pick up.” That said, the Utt-Grubbs are committed to the business and will continue to make high-quality, hand-crafted furniture, though on a part-time basis until the current financial situation is addressed.
 Other Developments
Additional individuals and families continue to come forward with requests for Refunds. Approximately half of these are valid or are entitled to full refunds. Some customers received partial orders and some who received partial orders are demanding full refunds. We don’t believe this is fair to the Utt-Grubbs nor is it fair to the other customers waiting for refunds. We’re working on developing a process for slating partial refunds into the Refund List so that we can pay customers what they are owed and not adversely impact others who have been waiting as long or longer for Refunds. For example:
Let’s say Customer A ordered a table and bench on August 20, and they received their table on time but have not received their bench at all. Let’s say that Customer B ordered a table on August 21, but never received any furniture. Should Customer A get a full refund? Should Customer A get their refund before Customer B, even though Customer A has had their table for more than 7 months and Customer B never received anything?
I’m sure that everyone can appreciate that dealing with this in a fair and equitable manner (as best as we can) with limited funds is an issue. We want to do the best we can for everyone involved and we appreciate your patience.
 We have been contacted by a commercial customer who is owed a substantial refund (over $12,000) and who has been waiting for some time. This customer has threatened a lawsuit to assert their claims. We’re working with them to avoid court action which would involve expense and distraction from paying those on the Refund List. We will keep you updated as we resolve this issue.
 Additionally, we have been in contact with the North Carolina Department of Justice (NCDOJ) regarding the numerous complaints that have been filed against Carolina Farmhouse at their office. We are cooperating fully with their investigation and want to share whatever information we can with the NCDOJ to address their concerns about refunds, business practices, and recovery on any claims asserted.
 Conclusion
Again, I understand this is frustrating and painful for everyone. I’m sorry that we are not able to provide you with a full refund immediately. I am sorry that it will take some time for you to receive your refund. I am sorry that you feel cheated or lied to. I can only ask for your patience in this process and to relay the information that I have.
 My website at http://www.jslawcenter.com can be a resource (there is a page dedicated to Carolina Farmhouse issues) as we will be posting updates, announcements, and communications on a regular basis. My contact information is below. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. Email is often the best method to reach me.
 Please look for additional communications approximately every two to four weeks for the Refund List and more frequent communications individually as we near your position "in line" for refunds.
 Thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation as we work toward getting you paid back as soon as possible.

John



 ~ Lynn

2 comments:

  1. Lynn - this is terrible...I am new here so not all that familiar with this situation, but it sure seems that this lawyer is working for the Utt-Grubbs and not in your favour at all...sorry you are facing this situation. I believe you are doing the right thing by trying to keep this negativity at bay

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

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    Replies
    1. Cheryl - Thank you. It has been a struggle to keep the anger & negativity at bay for sure. We have been dealing with this for far too long and there have been so many others that they have their money as well. It is the feeling of many in regards to your statement about the lawyer. I truly believe in karma & that life is about the choices you make.

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