A Courtenay senior who paid a deposit for a retractable screen door wound up with nothing but a hole in her wallet.
Isabel Dumas purchased an AIRA door from Eclipse Technologies at the annual Comox Valley Home Expo in April. The company had a special offer.
A sales rep, Rhyannon Ness, took measurements at her home on the day of the show, in return for a $185 deposit, or half the amount down. Thinking this was normal for a custom-made item, Dumas handed Ness a $185 cheque April 12. It was cashed April 14. Dumas was told the door would be installed in a couple weeks, but she never heard back from Ness. She left several messages with Ness in early-May and with the manager of customer service later in the month.
By May 28 she had had enough. So she searched out the office in Nanaimo, but the door was locked at its Wellington Road address. Eclipse shows another address on Boban Drive, but it too was a dead end.
“I don’t have any hope of getting my money back,” said Dumas, who had not contacted police. “Lesson learned for me, boy. I’m not well off but I’m not hurting that much that I’m going to miss that money, it’s just the principal of the damn thing.”
Calls to Eclipse by The Record were not returned.
The company website advertises a “low-investment, high return business opportunity” for potential dealers.
Dumas assumed Eclipse was reputable, considering she found it at the home show, which comes at a price for vendors.
Terry Johnson, owner of the Home Shoppe in Courtenay, used to sell the same product. He would spend several hundred dollars to vend at home shows. Though no longer selling the doors, his business is still listed as a dealer on the Eclipse website.
“We used to sell a lot of them,” said Johnson, who sold his last screen door three or four years ago. “We just found the market wasn’t as vibrant as it used to be. We spent all our money in the home shows.”
Johnson notes the availability of the doors at various retailers, as the reason for the drop in sales.
“It was a paying proposition several years ago, but not anymore,” he said.