Hey, wait a minute. Wasnt this a Twilight Zone episode?
A woman walks into a department store, buys a gift and returns it the next day because it has a scratch. She tells the leery salesman she purchased it on the eighth floor, only to be told, We have no eighth floor.
It gets weirder and weirder from there.
So does the case of Muriel Dorvilier, a Raleigh woman who said she went into the Aarons furniture store in Knightdale and handed over $2,400 cash to a salesman for some furniture for her new house, only to be told when she went to inquire about the furniture that the salesman doesnt work there.
What it feels like
Oh, he used to be in their employ, the manager said, but no longer. He is gone. So is any record of Dorvilier spending any money in the store, the manager said.
Thats what it feels like, like The Twilight Zone, Dorvilier told me Wednesday when I told her about the classic TV episode, or that Im being punked.
Dorvilier, a 30-year-old researcher at an area hospital, said she had just signed a contract to purchase her first home in May when she e-mailed Aarons to get a quote on a couch shed seen online.
In a letter to Aarons CEO in Atlanta and in an interview Wednesday near her job, Dorvilier said a salesman who said his name was Timothy Padrick Knightdale police say he also goes by Timothy Patrick: a bad sign for a salesman, no? called me back and informed me they were having an amazing Memorial Day sale and that I should stop by the store. He promised me they could hold the furniture for me until she was ready to have it delivered.
She gave him cash, she said, and he gave her a large envelope containing printed-out pictures of her selected furniture and receipts. She strolled out, blissfully looking forward to the day she moved into her fully furnished first house. I worked my butt off to be able to afford that, she said.
No record of purchase
When she returned to the store in September to find out why her furniture hadnt been delivered, she said, she was told there was no record of her purchase and that Padrick or Patrick was history there.
Dorvilier looked up the name online and found that Timothy Patrick is wanted elsewhere for swindling customers. It took me snap that long to find his mugshot and to see that hes a fugitive from another state.
There are at least two other cases involving customers at the Knightdale Aarons and at least one in Georgia, detective Orlando Soto of the Knightdale Police Department told me.
David Perry, general manager at the Knightdale store, said whatever transaction Dorvilier made with Patrick, It wasnt anything in the store. She didnt make a purchase with my company.
She didnt pay for anything in the store?
No, he said. It was all outside the store. She has no receipts for me to look at or anything. ... None of them even say Aarons on them. She came in to talk to me, but I have nothing to show that she even paid any kind of money, so ...
So, shes up the creek without a sofa.
Dorvilier was incensed when told what Perry said. Thats the first Ive heard that I wasnt in the store, she said.
The two sales receipts Dorvilier showed me do not have the stores name on them, but they do have the stores I.D. number (C-1595) and a name stamp for Padrick and a signature for sales totaling $2,469.35.
I asked why she paid cash. I had the money, and I didnt see any reason to use a credit card, she said. Im not dumb. I just never thought something like this could happen with a reputable store.
Who would, especially with one that has 1,800 stores and is publicly traded on the N.Y. Stock Exchange?
My efforts to get someone from Aarons corporate office in Atlanta to comment were unsuccessful.
Soto, who said it isnt unusual for customers to pay cash in such a transaction, said Aarons general manager told him the store conducted a background check prior to hiring the apparently felonious furniture hawker, but the worker may have provided a phony Social Security number. If so, Soto said, he could be charged with impersonation as well as obtaining property by false pretenses. Knightdale police are trying to find him.
Youve got to hand it to Patrick/Padrick for his ability to make people hand over their money. Soto said he apparently promised some of the customers that he could get them an employee discount if they paid him in cash. Dorvilier swore he made her no such offer.
Since no one knows what his real name is, lets just call him Casper, because whatever else he is, hes a ghost now. Whatever name he is going by, he ought to be ashamed of himself for ripping off hardworking people who are trying to make a comfortable home for their families and themselves.
Youd think Aarons, upon realizing it had unwittingly let in a wolf to pluck unsuspecting sheep who walk through its doors, would make things right by the victimized customers. Wouldnt you?
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