My question involves a consumer law issue. Can an individual write their own civil demand letter to demand a store return their money? Or does it have to be done by a lawyer? I am in Washington DC and the store is in Florida. I found the item on a National Art website and then called the store in Florida to agree on a price. My problem is below. If any one has any thoughts about the situation I would be interested to hear.
I paid two payments towards a purchase of an artwork #1) for 15K on credit card and #2) 10K by check. The store was supposed to reserved the art work for me but continued try to sell it on their website for twice what we agreed to. I have saved all the screen shots. I still had 5 more monthly payments to make to complete the purchase. When I told the owner I didn't like what he was doing he became hostile hanged up the phone. He said I would have to buy the art piece or lose my two payments which he know tried to call "Deposits." He further added that I could try to do a charge back on the 15k but the 10K would have to be used as a credit in the store. Of course this is a policy or term anywhere to be found not on the invoice nor the website.
I filed a BBB compliant against the store, owner said he would pay for me to come down to FL pay for the item and take it. When I agree to that and tried to book the flight he then spent the next 1.5 months avoiding me and not allowing me to go to the store and complete the purchase. I ask him to sell the artwork or return my money. He said he would return my money. He returned the first payment which was on a credit card by reversing it but when it came time to return the rest of my money that was made with a check he out of no where asked to me to respond "yes" to an email that confirmed if I were to ever go legal and take him to court I would have to do it in Dade County Florida and the loser would pay all court costs. I told him no, the option was sell the the art or return my money freely, not hold me money hostage, steal away my legal rights, then return my money. The problem was I could say yes to him and then he could not pay me and then I would have no choice but to chase him down in Florida.
I called the police of the city where the store was located, their economic crimes unit, and they would not help me really. They were stupid and really lazy. They kept on saying it was civil not criminal. I said he never intended to sell me the art. He retains my money, it's like a scam that you have to pressure him to get your money back and the only way he will do it is you sign away all your right against him. They said they would pay him a visit and ask him about what was going on as a courtesy but they tried 2 times and he wasn't there and gave up and then just ignored me.
Once he got wind of the police coming to his store, he urgently emailed that he would have his attorney write a release. He then sent a release that is a crazy 5 page garbage that took away all my legal rights times 10. I emailed and said I would not sign the crazy document and return my money immediately with no attachment or sell me the art which still want. He did not respond and has continued to retain my 10K. it's now 10 months since I made my first payment to buy the piece. I have told him at this point I will not sign anything from him and the only way to resolve this where I am not damaged is for me to buy the piece since he will not freely return all my money without any attachment. I said that you have to live up to the offer to have me come to Florida pay for the art and hand over the art. Even if you have to take the return on funds and sign something option, I think you still have to go to Florida to sign the document and take a certified check from him at the same time. This person can not be trusted.
Some other information: There was no contract, just an invoice with my information and the amount for the particular item which could be considered an agreement. There is nothing on the invoice mentioning deposit or type of police. On his website there is a 14 day no questions asked return policy which i highly doubt this person will do that. I am in DC the store is in FL, I bought item after finding it on Artsy a national art website and then contacting him to negotiate a price where we agreed on a monthly payment plan
Some other questions: Can I fight this in DC courts? Is there a civil demand letter under consumer protection laws that would allow me to demand 3 times the amount retained. I can file up to 10k in Washington DC small claims. But by not being allowed to buy the art, my lost opportunity is anywhere from 25-50k in appreciation in value which are damages. Because I found him on a national online platform where he listed the item I think I should be able to use jurisdiction Washington DC.
If I were to use the Florida jurisdiction because the store is there. I could do Fl civil demand letter, were you send the letter and demand the money, if they don't give it to you in 30 days you can sue for 3 times the amount plus attorney fees in Florida courts to recover. If I do a civil demand letter myself is that still acceptable?
I would be interested to hear what others think I should do or what I did wrong or any suggestions. aw issue in the State of: