Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our tax dollars at work -- in the DA's office!

After the ordeal we endured for our kitchen countertops, I had brief (5-10 minute) phone conversations with some attorneys, who advised me to file a complaint against Eco Design Resources (old website). It would be useless, they told me, to file a lawsuit for this amount of money.

I finally got around to requesting a copy of the canceled check, then assembling a package (the quote from Eco Design, a letter acknowledging receipt, credit card receipts, etc., and sending the whole kit and caboodle off to the DA's office -- consumer and real estate fraud unit.

Yesterday I got a call from a Mr. Finney, who had some interesting information for me.

First, Eco Design Resources is, according to a fictitious business name notice, owned by the same Michael Schaeffer who owns the Green Building Exchange, which you can read about in this September article and this announcement. Mr. Schaeffer apparently has an office there, at 1 Chestnut Avenue South San Francisco, 650-588-1113.

Mr. Finney also said that he talked to Ernestine Jensen at Scan-Top, who apparently are owed some $36,000.

He seemed quite concerned because this sure looks sleazy -- Schaeffer apparently has not filed for bankruptcy, contrary to the signs that my wife found at the old building in Redwood City. It might be a police matter, but we don't yet have enough information to know whether that's the case or not.

The Green Building Exchange is re-opening today in South San Francisco. I plan to head on up there soon, with copies of the quote from EDR, the canceled check, and the complaint filed with the DA's office. I will show these to Mr. Schaeffer and ask for my money back.

I'll also have several more copies to hand to any reporters who happen to be there, in case he doesn't come through.

So if you hear I've been shot, or my body was found in some random alley or in the bottom of the bay, it won't be an accident or some random violent act. But hey, my life insurance (not with AIG) is paid up, and I know where I'm going, so what's the worst that could happen? (H'm, I suddenly remember that film A River Runs Through It).

Update: what happened

Well, I asked a couple of people if Michael was around; they seemed to think he was wandering around somewhere, but I never did find him. I talked with one young fellow who was working there ("I'm out $5,000 myself," he said), essentially volunteering, because he believed in the idea of green construction practices, building materials, etc.

Here's what I think: I think he's working for a very persuasive fellow. He's volunteering right now essentially -- reading between the lines, it looks like he just hasn't been paid. The hope, he says, is that business will pick up and Schaeffer will be able to pay people what they're owed. I don't know how much business he'll have to do to pay his bills, but it looks like right now he's just not paying people.

I told this young innocent (who said that Michael "did what he had to do to keep the business afloat") that you can't take one person's money and use it for something else.

I did wander around a bit, looking at some displays and chatting with one or two of the vendors. Whole Foods had donated some food -- I enjoyed a tasty apple.

I could have tried harder to find Michael, but confrontations like this are not my idea of a good time.

No comments: