Man seeks refund for $9K hot tub he did not get

Published: May. 11, 2018 at 3:46 PM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2018 at 4:51 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Nine-thousand dollars - that's how much a man fought to get back after he bought a hot tub, then changed his mind.

He says the Chesterfield-based company refused to reimburse him, even though the hot tub hadn't even been delivered yet - that is, until On Your Side investigator Eric Philips got to work.

"It's just unconscionable that somebody would think that it's how you do business," said Robert Lightner.

Lightner made a purchase in February that he almost instantly regretted. He purchased a $9,000 hot tub from Spa Blowout. The company was holding a sale at the fairgrounds in Rockingham County.

"I provided him a credit card, and at the time, he showed me an iPad and said, 'here's some information you might want to read' I think regarding the setup of the hot tub, and I told him I couldn't read it because I didn't have my reading glasses on,"  Lightner said.

"Took the iPad and handed it to me, and there was a box and he said 'just sign your name right here for the credit card.' I said alright."

With that, the sale was complete. Lightner went home, grabbed his glasses and began going through the paperwork. He said the signature he thought was for the credit card had been applied to a contract he'd never seen, nor had he been told about it.

But that wasn't the most alarming part.

"It stated in the contract that all sales are final. It stated that there would be a restocking fee of the full price," Lightner said.

He says none of that was every mentioned during the buying process.

Lightner says he went online and started seeing unfavorable reviews about the company, and at that point decided he didn't want to go through with the deal. About three hours after making the purchase, he contacted a company official.

"And I explained to them that because of the reputation your company has, I don't feel comfortable in purchasing this from you," Lightner said. "And he said 'that's fine, but we're going to keep the entire amount for a restocking fee.' The entire $9,000?  $9,104."

Lightner told them that was against the law, citing the Federal Trade Commission's Cooling-Off Rule, which gives consumers three days to change their minds on certain purchases. Specifically, those made at temporary locations - like a fairground.

"He responded by saying that that law does not apply to them," Lightner said.

Lightner followed up that phone call with a couple of letters to the company, but it made no difference. He hired an attorney who got involved.

"That's beyond belief, that a company would think that it would be entitled to keep a purchaser's money and provide nothing in return for it," said Lightner's attorney, Stephen Strosnider.

Strosnider said he tried repeatedly to reach Spa Blowout. He says the owner returned his call once, but he missed it and could not get him back on the phone. So he filed a lawsuit on Lightner's behalf.

Lightner tried appealing to his credit card company.

"They reviewed it and about a week later said this was a face to face transaction and they said they were going to go ahead and pay the company," said Lightner.

So he called 12 On Your Side.

NBC12's Eric Philips tried reaching Spa Blowout by phone, but never got a call back. So he paid them a visit.  A worker who answered the door said he had no comment.

Later that same day, Philips got a call from the company's attorney, Bill Bayliss, asking that NBC12  give him time to look into the situation and get back to Philips. Two days later, Spa Blowout settled with Lightner, issuing this statement on Mr. Lightner's behalf saying in part:

"I wish to confirm that the dispute I had with Spa Blowout has now been reasonably resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both myself and Spa Blowout..."

While Lightner says he cannot discuss the specifics of the settlement, he says he wishes it hadn't taken so much for Spa Blowout to do the right thing.

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