My question involves real estate located in the State of: Washington
On both August 25th and August 26th, 2011, my fiance was on seattle.craigslist.org browsing rental properties. He saw an advertisement for a "licensed agency" that provides assistance in finding affordable housing for people with bad or no credit for a $350 deposit. He called the number provided in the ad, and made an appointment to meet with a man simply called "Terrence". He was given the address and told to bring his ID and a recent pay stub to the meeting.
On August 30th, 2011, he went to United, Inc - also called "United Relocation" - located at 1100 Dexter Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. He was told that Terrence was unavailable, so he instead met with a salesperson, whose name he cannot recall, who explained to him what exactly the agency offered as far as rental assistance. He asked what neighborhood we would like to live in, then showed my fiance a few properties that were available in that area. He then told him that they required a $350, fully-refundable deposit for their assistance in finding us a property which, upon finding a satisfactory property, would then become our security deposit. He also claimed that, should we need to move, we could come back to the agency and they would help us relocate at no additional cost and the initial deposit would be transferred to our new property.
This sounded promising to my fiance, so he agreed to pay the deposit. He was then told that they did not accept credit/debit cards or personal checks, so he made a trip to the ATM and withdrew $360 in $20 bills. When he returned, the salesperson told him they did not have any change to give, so our deposit was reduced to $340. For our $340, he was then given a stack of 47 stapled papers detailing 2,407 properties in the greater Seattle area. He then came home and discussed the meeting with me, showing me the property list and explaining what they were offering us, as well as the cost. After discussing it, we decided it was not worth the cost and he should request a refund.
On September 6th, he went back to United, Inc. and requested a refund. He was given a form that he had to fill out and sign to begin processing the refund, and told that they would mail us a refund check and that someone would be in touch with him within a few days. When we hadn't heard from them or received a check after a week or so, he went back to their office. We don't recall the exact date, although he knows it was a Wednesday, but he was told by the front desk representative that no one from their office had come in that day. We found this surprising as it was a weekday, during business hours. The front desk agent gave him the phone number he had on file to reach them.
My fiance called the number repeatedly, leaving multiple messages, but received no return phone call. Finally today, September 28th, he went up there for a third time and was told by the front desk agent that no one from their company had come into work for "some time", that they had "picked up and left, and left everything here", and no one from the company that leases the office space had been able to reach them. He also said that they were pursuing legal action against United, Inc. and he "recommended" we do the same. My fiance tried calling the company again, but the numbers we have are now disconnected, and when I tried searching the internet for alternate methods of getting into contact with them, I discovered a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau against this same company on August 16th, 2011 for "problems with product/service". We filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office, but are unsure how to go about filing charges against United, Inc./United Relocation.