Woman says Holland cheated on her

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HOLLAND, Mich. – A woman who thought she bought her mother the perfect birthday present now says a West Michigan company scammed her.

“I felt like I was cheated,” Gina Valente said. “I felt like she literally just took me for my money, which broke my heart because I’ve never been scammed before or thought that could happen to me.”

In January 2021, discovered Valente, who works as a flight attendant and was living in Metro Detroit at the time Samantha and company decor via a Facebook ad.

According to its website, Samantha and Company Decor makes dogs and other creations out of wood chips.

Valente and her mother share a basset hound named Ivy, so she thought it would make a unique, sentimental gift for her mother for her upcoming birthday.

“I thought it would be a great present for my mom’s birthday instead of a bouquet of flowers or cookies,” Valente said. “Something important that she could keep for a very long time.”

Valente paid $65 for a custom order that could take up to six weeks to make, according to the company’s website. Valente said she waited, but when the deadline passed in mid-February, she began to worry.

“A few weeks pass [and] no update, no word,” Valente said. “That’s when I started emailing her asking for updates on when she expected my creation to be ready and shipped.”

Shortly after Valente sent her second email asking to update her order, she received a generic email saying her item had shipped. However, Valente says it never arrived at her mother’s home in Illinois.

In March, Valente requested a refund, but she never heard from Samantha and Company Decor again.

“I kind of feel like the bad guy because I have to report someone, but at the same time it’s my money,” Valente said. “I felt like I had to say something, and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else.”

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OTHER PEOPLE WERE ALLEGED TO BE FRAUDED ALSO

The Better Business Bureau of West Michigan has received five complaints about Samantha and Company Decor since last April.

According to a filed report, one person said they spent $190 on a Christmas present for their family member in December 2020, only for it to not be sent or delivered despite numerous calls, voicemails and messages.

Another complaint listed on the BBB profile for the company said one person ordered a wooden flower box, only to lose $89 and get blocked on Samantha and Company Decor’s Facebook page.

“These different complaints are all saying the same thing,” Katie Grevious said. “[They] ordered a product, never received it, never reached anyone. To date, almost a year later, we have still not been able to reach anyone at this company.”

Grevious is a communications specialist at the West Michigan BBB. She says the BBB sent several notifications to Samantha and Company Decor over several weeks.

When the company didn’t respond, the BBB changed their accreditation to an “F”.

For the past week, FOX 17 has called and emailed Samantha and company Decor to get their side of the story, but received no response.

Records show that the company has no registration papers with the state licensing agency LARA. All previous social media profiles now appear to be deleted.

On Tuesday, FOX 17 went to an address in Holland that may be linked to Samantha and Company Decor. Despite the cars parked in the driveway and repeated knocks, no one answered the door. However, FOX 17 was able to see some of the products advertised on the company’s website on the home’s porch.

“It’s not right,” said Valente, who eventually received a refund through her credit card company.

Valente says even though it’s been a year since the incident, the transparency issues still frustrate her. “The way I see it, you make beautiful works of art, so just be honest with yourself and your company.”

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