State officials file complaint against flooring business

The N.C. Attorney General’s Office has filed a complaint against Flowers Flooring Inc., alleging that the company defrauded its customers by using deceptive business practices.

The attorney general’s office also is asking the Wake Superior Court to issue a preliminary injunction against the company, according to the complaint. The business operated a store on West First Street in Winston-Salem.

The Cornelius-based company is accused of accepting payment from customers for materials that were never delivered or floor installations that were not started or completed, the attorney general’s office said.

“People work hard for their money, and home renovations are expensive,” Attorney General Josh Stein said. “I’m taking Flowers Flooring to court for failing to deliver on its promises and so they can’t take advantage of any more North Carolinians.”

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Jeremy William Flowers of Mooresville, the company’s manager, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The N.C. Department of Justice has received more than 80 consumer complaints against Flowers Flooring for their allegedly unlawful practices, the attorney general’s office said.

The complaint contains an affidavit from a Forsyth County woman who was a victim of the company’s alleged fraudulent actions.

The attorney general’s office repeatedly notified Flowers Flooring officials about these complaints, but the company failed to provide “substantive response to these communications,” the complaint said.

The attorney general’s office filed a 14-page legal action against the company in Wake Superior Court in Raleigh. The attorney general’s office says that Flowers Flooring violated that state’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“(Flowers Flooring) was deceptive in its dealings with consumers,” the complaint said.

Flowers Flooring operated a residential flooring company from stores in Winston-Salem and Cornelius in northern Mecklenburg County, according to the complaint.

The company accepted customers’ down payments for materials that were never delivered and flooring installation that was never performed, according to the complaint.

The company had contracts with at least 73 consumers, and it falsely promised to complete flooring installation projects, requiring that consumers pay a deposit for about half the projects’ cost for materials in advance of flooring installation, the complaint said.

“After securing the advance from the consumer, (the) defendant either failed to provide the materials and/or performed no work,” the complaint said. “When consumers contacted the company to request status updates on installation dates, they were told materials were on back order from the supplier.”

“Some consumers requested refunds while others were told by the company that refunds, would be issued,” the complaint said. “(The) defendant ultimately failed to complete work or issue refunds, and unlawfully retained approximately $400,000 in consumer advances and deposits.”

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams of Clemmons signed a contract for a flooring project for her home, consisting of carpet for two stairwells, flooring for the living room and flooring for the basement on Feb. 19, according to the complaint.

Williams declined to comment further about her dealings with Flowers Flooring.

Williams prepaid $3,721 on Feb. 16 and $2,425 on Feb. 17 for the materials and services, the complaint said.

The company told Williams that an initial estimate for completion was three to four weeks, but no later than 30 days from the date of her contract, which would have been March 21.

The company installed the vinyl flooring in the basement on April 20, the complaint said. Several months went by without the rest of her project being completed.

Each time Williams contacted the company she was told that the materials ordered were not in stock or on back order, according to the complaint.

On May 31, Williams cancelled the remainder of the contract and asked for a refund of the remainder of her deposit, the complaint said. The company agreed to refund the remaining deposit and told Williams that it would take 30 days to process.

The company never refunded Williams’ deposit, the complaint said. Williams hired another flooring company and selected the exact same materials that she had ordered from Flowers Flooring, with the new company completing the work within two weeks.

“(Flowers Flooring’s) acts, practices, misrepresentations and omissions have harmed consumers by causing them to incur costs and delays in attempting to have repairs made to their homes and property,” the complaint said.

The company, which was incorporated in 2013, operated until mid-August when Flowers Flooring shut down its website, closed its stores and ceased communications with its customers, the complaint said.

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