Taking Action: Customers Speak Out Against Valley Appliance, Kitchens By Design

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A local appliance store shuts down, leaving behind a slew of unhappy customers.

Valley Appliance didn’t go bankrupt and didn’t leave town.  In fact, the same management team just opened up again under a new name.

In this Taking Action Investigation, WHNT News 19 discovers a lot of customers are out of a lot of money.  We're hoping we can help them get results in this hidden camera report.

"Spent $8,000.  Never received our appliances," said Adrianne Day.

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"Small claims court for $1,100," said Sherry McKinney. "No one appeared."

"Still don't have a rebate that was promised to me," said Phillip Bess.

"I actually got my appliances four days ago," said Robert Johnson.  "Still nothing on rebates."

"We got a check yesterday and took it directly to Valley Appliance bank, cashed it and it was NSF," said Mary Ayers.

"Still have not received our money," said Bradley Young.

The company all of these unsatisfied customers have issues with was once located in an empty building on University Drive in Huntsville.  It looks as if the business has closed down and pulled out of town.  That might have been easier for these consumers to swallow.

"First thing I am thinking is, they got away with robbing us," said Young.

He had big plans for his new kitchen.

"Refrigerator, microwave, a nice vent hood -- these are some of the amenities we wanted to have in our kitchen," Young said.

Young made a $5,000 investment in June 2012.  The promised rebates and goods would never come from Valley Appliance.

Young eventually forked out more money and bought the items elsewhere.

After weeks of tense conversations over the phone and in person with Valley Appliance employees, here’s what he did get:  A paper promise of a refund by late November.  That would hold no merit.

"They really sold the 'local family owned businesses'... really close-knit, everyone works for the same company in the family, and you find comfort in that," said Adrianne Day.

The group of customers we spoke with calls it multi-layered lies.

"Well, the guy you talked to isn't here, he is never there, we have to go find him, he may have went in the wash room, oh I guess he slipped out the back door," said Mary Ayers.

Valley Appliance closed the University Drive location in late December.  However, concerned consumers say the same people have opened up a new store at 3607 South Memorial Parkway.

Incorporation papers with the State of Alabama show a tweaked business corporation name of 'Valley Home Center, Inc.'

The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama says these two companies share a lot in common.

"Our biggest focus right now is helping the people that have turned to us with complaints," said Michele Mason, BBB of North Alabama President. "We are sending those to the address at Kitchens By Design, since the same principals are there, in hopes that rather than saying they are out of business, under the name Valley Appliance, that they will help these customers."

The customer on this day is WHNT News 19.

"I am looking for a fridge," our undercover producer says, armed with a hidden camera.

"I was looking online and it says it’s a family owned business.  Who is it that owns it?" WHNT News 19 asks.

"It’s owned by Maxon Bromley," says Bill Hall, an employee.

WHNT News 19 checked this and found Maxon Bromley appears to be the general manager.   Records show James Bromley as the registered agent for the Kitchens By Design location.  Peter, Tim and Michael Tyrka are listed as the Board of Directors.

We also have Valley Appliance paperwork from 2005.  It also lists the Tyrka trio.

"Are you guys accredited with the Better Business Bureau?" our undercover producer asks.

"We are in the process of getting accredited with them," Hall replies.

That could prove to be difficult for 38 reasons.  The company has that many complaints and an 'F' rating with the BBB.

WHNT News 19 called Peter Tyrka several times, but his voicemail was full.  We also called Kitchens By Design, but got no response after 48 hours.

So, our team went to the business in hopes of finding the managers.

"I am looking for Peter or Tim Tyrka," WHNT News 19's Carrie Marchese said.  "What about James Bromley or Maxon Bromley?"

The sales associate said his bosses weren’t around.

We were searching for answers about them and wanted him to know WHNT News 19 had found a connection between Valley Appliance and Kitchens By Design.

“What’s your connection to Valley Appliance?” Carrie Marchese asks the sales associate.

"I don't have anything to say," said Hall.  "You need to leave."

"Cameras out!" another man said, escorting us out of the store.

Back at Bradley Young’s house, we ask him, "Why did you call us?"

"I would like to see justice, I want to see satisfaction of justice," Young replied.

We also asked the same of the big group of disgruntled consumers.  "Jail time, jail time, jail time," the group chimed in.

Since we got involved and started asking questions, we’re pleased to report results for a few of the consumers.  Late Monday, Bradley Young and Adrianne Day received money orders for the full amount of their refund.  The Ayers resubmitted their check to the bank and it finally cleared.

In the meantime, several new complaints have come into the WHNT News 19 newsroom.

We urge anyone who has had unsatisfactory business dealings with Valley Appliance to contact the Better Business Bureau WHNT News 19 Consumer Action Line.

Email Your Complaint: info@northalabama.bbb.org

The local number is 256-850-0719.  Outside of Huntsville, you can call it toll free by dialing 1-866-94-BBB19 (that’s 1-866-942-2219).

Valley Appliance previously had other store locations in Athens and Decatur.  We've driven by and both are closed.

Currently, the Huntsville Police Department, the Better Business Bureau and the Madison County District Attorney's Office are investigating this case.

Have you had a problem with this business?  Contact WHNT News 19's investigative team.

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