24 February 2010

Texts, lies and a final escape: when contests go bad

A little more than a year ago, I joined up with a company called Metallo Arts to host a give away of a $3200 gift certificate for a Metallo Arts custom range hood. I publicized the contest and Metallo Arts like crazy for the five weeks that the Dream Kitchen contest went on. How it worked was that anybody who wanted to enter had to describe or draw for me their idea of a fantasy kitchen. I wanted people to be impractical and creative, this was an exercise in dreams.

On 3 April 2009, I announced a winner. It was a woman whose fantasy kitchen was based on the designs of a Ukranian Easter Egg. She really threw herself into her idea and what she sent in was a concept even more fully realized than the concept boards I put together for my own clients. Here are a couple of still shots from her entry.






Lisa and her family were gearing up to renovate their kitchen and this range hood was going to make the perfect focal point. They'd have it, use it and love it forever. It was a perfect ending.

My contact at Metallo Arts was Chris Plummer, who was one of the two owners of the company. I connected Lisa to Chris and put everything out of my mind.

Fast forward a couple of months and Metallo Arts dissolved in a flurry of pointed fingers and lawsuits. I don't know any of the particulars and frankly I don't want to know them. I assumed that with the company gone, so was Lisa's hood since they hadn't started making it yet. Chris assured me however, that he was going to form another company and that all of his outstanding orders would be fulfilled by the new company. I believed him.

I corresponded with Lisa from time to time during the months that followed. He would give her the run around and she'd write to me and I 'd hear about it. I'd then write to Chris and he'd tell me that everything was under control.

Aside from a single Tweet to one of his former employees, I had no contact with anybody else from the defunct Metallo Arts. What ever happened with that company had taken a nasty and personal turn and I felt bad about it enough not to ask.

In January I received a bunch of text messages from Chris. He accused me of  "passing along info to people bent on personal vendettas." Interesting.  Once I convinced him that I had done nothing of the sort we texted back and forth a bit. He told me that he had taken on five new partners and had started a new company. I asked him again what he planned to do about Lisa's hood and he responded, "Lisa's hood ships this week."

This was taking place on 17 January 2010, a Sunday evening. On a lark, I shot an e-mail to Lisa and asked her if she'd heard anything about her hood. Lisa responded immediately, "Regarding Chris, I did manage to get in touch with him directly,and he did promise to help me out, but I've been unable to catch him since December."

That was odd since I'd just been given a shipping date a moment before in a text message. I copied Lisa's email into a text message and then sent it to Chris. Silence.

I went back through my archives and I deactivated all the links I had to Metallo Arts. Then upon further reflection I went back and purged around 20 posts that dealt with the contest and Metallo Arts. I deleted them completely. Then I wrote a disclaimer on the top of the last remaining post, the one where I announced the winner. You can read it here.

Yesterday I was forwarded an e-mail from Lisa. The e-mail was from Chris' new assistant. here's the bulk of the message. I left off the opening sentence because it contained the name of Chris' assistant and I don't want to pull in anybody else.
I understand you have contacted our offices about a prize you won through Metallo Arts. As of June, 2009, Christopher Lee Plummer was no longer associated with Metallo Arts.  Shortly after Chris left, the business folded.

Unfortunately, there is no way to collect the prize you won. I am sorry to break this news to you but we do not have any recourse as Metallo Arts no longer exists.  The sole owner of Metallo as of June, 2009 was Sheldon Gruber. You may want to contact him and see if he would be willing to honor his commitment to you.

Please accept our most sincere apologies as we are very sorry that you were impacted negatively by the closing of Metallo Arts.  As a newly formed company, we are not in a position to fulfill Mr. Gruber's obligation.
Isn't that interesting. Lisa's disappointed of course and frankly, it's Chris' prerogative to do whatever he wants. It's the lies and obfuscations that bother me.

I wrote to Chris' assistant and told her that I was writing this column and that it would appear today. I asked her for a statement either from the company or from Chris to run alongside this blog post. I heard from Chris via text message at 7pm. His statement:
Here is my statement hire a good atty...
This whole situation makes me sick to my stomach. I feel awful for Lisa of course but I'm really angry for having been played a fool through all of this. I get it that companies go under but what's the point of lying? This could have been resolved last summer by saying sorry, all bets are off. But that's not what happened. Lisa and her family renovated their kitchen as this has been unfolding and everything's done except for the gaping hole over the range. A hole that was to have been taken up by a custom range hood.

And so ends the year-long saga of the Metallo Arts Fantasy Kitchen Contest. I apologize to Lisa and to anybody else I may have hurt though this. I can't fix it, any of it, and that's what's so bothersome. So be careful when it comes to big ticket items given away on blogs. And bloggers beware anybody offering big tickets items to be used as give aways. Nothing's ever free. Nothing.

63 comments:

  1. People. They're just no damn good.

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  2. Oh, Paul..and Lisa. I am so sorry you guys got hosed. People suck.

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  3. So sorry to hear about this -- hope I didn't twist the knife the other day when I emailed you about them :(

    I am thinking that maybe this situation can turn around -- my father always told me when I was growing up, "Get out of the problem and into the solution" -- so maybe we can make a mass appeal to other fabricators for a replacement hood for Lisa? Who knows, she may just end up with a better hood then MA would have given her!

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  4. It appears Mr. Plummer has a new company making custom metal hoods (google). Perhaps Lisa's advocate should contact them directly; a consumer protection agency or news channel. Unfortunately for the industry, it is the few rotten apples that give it a bad name. So many companies still must learn the lesson of dealing with customer service problems truthfully, openly and effectively, and how it ultimately leverages their reputation and brand.

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  6. Jesus, what an asshole. I'll will make sure to steer clear of his new company.

    Why did he string this poor woman along?

    Reminds me of an old saying: "The talentless sociopaths are in jail, the talented ones are in business."

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  7. Interesting story! It always is so fascinating to me to see how different people deal with businesses closing or failing, job layoffs, etc. I have found in my experience that those type of business situations bring out the true essence of a person.

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  8. Yikes. Why exactly is Chris threatening YOU?? Let's see... you ran a contest on your blog promoting his company and his products. You wrote multiple posts about how much you liked his products. You did your best to get Lisa the range hood that she won fair and square after Chris went AWOL. Sorry for the language, but the guy is a delusional dick and HE'S the one who should be getting threatened with lawyers!!!

    Thanks for sticking to your guns and posting this, Paul. You've done a lot of people a huge favour by calling out this guy and showing him for the liar that he is.

    Kelly

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  9. Paul:

    Take a deep breath and take solace that karma is a bitch......your intentions were pure, his not so much and his attorney threats..project much?

    e

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  10. Sleaze is as sleaze does. Good for you for hunting this dog down and then using this space to wipe the poop from your shoes

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  11. I hate when people who know that they're in the wrong turn it around like it's YOU who've been the douche this whole time. What a jackass. I'm sorry that you both had to go through that :(

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  12. Geez, all the guy had to do was say, at some point, "I can't do this after all, and I'm sorry." But for some people that seems to be like removing their own spleen or something. Kudos to you for doing everything you could think of to help Lisa; I hope no more sh*t splashes onto your shoes from this whole mess.

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  13. Wow guys thanks, I appreciate the vote of confidence. When you're embroiled in something like this for a while it's easy to forget who's wearing the white hat. What a mess!

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  14. Good call, Paul.

    Sucks when good opportunities end up in the toilet.

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  15. Paul,
    Keep the faith baby! He'll get his. Assholes always get their payback, and the beauty is they usually do it to themselves and don't even realize it!

    You're always the one wearing the white hat in my book.

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  16. You know, there's nothing I'd like more than for this to get a happy ending. It's a stretch, but I love your idea Adrienne. Maybe someone somewhere will step up to the plate and become a hero.

    Melody: And to think, you almost went to work for that guy!

    Chuck: Thanks for the sleuthing. You said everything I was avoiding saying.

    Raina: Great old-timey saying. I think I'll borrow it.

    Sharon: Ain't it the truth?

    Kelly: Just think, you came in second in that contest. I felt bad about it so I helped you with your kitchen as a consolation prize. It sounds like you won after all!

    Elizabeth: Thanks, and yes it is pure projection.

    Nancie: You have a catchy turn of phrase and I love it.

    Nim: I have no patience for assholism. None.

    Anna: I hope so too. I want this to be over.

    Nick: Thanks for the support.

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  17. Paul, thanks for sharing this.

    Just amazing. What could have been an absolutely positive beginning for a new company rising from the ashes of Metallo Arts becomes a PR debacle beyond repair.

    How hard would it have been for Chris' new biz to honor the contest winner? Super FAIL on their part - could have been a fantastic public relations coup now it will cost them so much more in lost good will (and future sales - can anyone say google....).

    Anyways, as Adrienne mentioned this is an opportunity for a great company to step in help this family get their hood.

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  18. Yes what an asshole for trying to do something for free for whom he had no obligation. It's funny that chris just finished a project for me despite his life being turned upside down with alot more tragedy than you bother to mention here. I have worked with chris for at least five years and have never had any issues. I am sure there is more to this.

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  19. I like your idea Adrienne. And then perhaps this would be a good idea for an article in a print industry mag...
    Unfortunately in my experience pathological liars are some of the most creative and entertaining people out there. It's unfortunate because sometimes the black (not to denigrate black, it's my favorite color) balances out the white and... not to get too heavy, you have to throw the baby out with the bath!

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  20. Paul, I am confused here, You are condemming this person for not saying he couldnt do a job, but isnt that what he did?

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  21. Carmen and Sara: I hope so too I'd love a happy ending to all of this.

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  22. OMG. I can't help but say "hood-winked". Oye, what a mess. "Christopher, what were you thinking? Have you lost your mind?" Come on, pull it together and redeem yourself quickly.

    Paul, your hands are clean of this mess. Adrienne is right, what a fabulous idea for another vent company to turn this into a PR plus.

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  23. I shudder to think that I almost got embroiled in that mess. I am so glad I listened to my gut when his Facebook postings started making me smell a rat.
    Laurie, bravo on the hoodwinked funny! Good one!

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  24. Thanks Laurie, I appreciate it.

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  25. Melody, Mess is the right word.

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  26. Wow. There's got to be more to this than what's just here. What's really interesting here is that here is a guy who has been in the business for years and probably knows more about the design than most ever will. The company is torn apart and personal tragedy dictates that everything has to start over again. Exactly how much detail about the company's demise did you look at before you decided to crucify Chris? This is not like he took money, but you gave him advertising... as a different company. Is it possible that he tried to make this situation work but the resources he was counting on simply were not there as his business has to quite literally, start over? Could Chris have done things different? Yep. Could his old business partner who still has the old company had fixed this? Um... Yeah.
    Lisa is the unfortunate victim of a horrible business collapse. Where are the other parties in this, or is this a band wagon? Out right, the situation sucks. For everyone. No one walked away unfettered.

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  27. thedon,I realize businesses collapse, but that's no excuse to suddenly abandon integrity and honesty.

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  28. You're right, businesses do fold and things don't get paid etc. But it's all in the way it's handled. He had a loss of power around this, and responded defensively. It's very unfortunate all the way around. And makes me really think hard about giveaways in the future.

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  29. Wow. Let's hope anyone who googles the new company finds this post and realizes that what is promised might not always be delivered.

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  30. Seriously, the piling on here is ridiculous. I am the "assistant" that wrote to Lisa because once we realized we truly could not fulfill the commitment, it was the right thing to do. While this situation is very unfortunate, I have also have a list of clients that are thrilled that, even after the demise of the business, Chris completed their projects.. at his own expense. Chris fulfilled commitments only for the sake of integrity and that it was his name on the line. I'm sorry for Lisa and this situation but there is much more to this story and it is very unfair to trash someone in this manner without having all of the facts.

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  31. Is this blog an attack on Chris, or an attack on Metallo Arts? They are not one and the same; Have not been for quite a bit. There is a lot of name calling here of Chris because he could not uphold the commitment of a company that was usurped. But nowhere here does anyone... ANYONE say anything about the responsability of the (old) company to uphold its end of the bargain.

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  32. Where's the integrity when you go around the web posing as a consumer, pointing people to the MA site? Where's the integrity when you're tricking thousands of people into thinking you're a reporter to get the MA name out? There is none.

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  33. thedon said...
    "Is this blog an attack on Chris, or an attack on Metallo Arts?" Yes on both counts. They may not be one in the same legally at this point, but it was Chris (not his old partner) who continued to string Lisa and Paul along after Metallo Arts was defunct... His choice --bad call.

    AA (anonymous assistant) said...
    "While this situation is very unfortunate, I have also have a list of clients that are thrilled that, even after the demise of the business, Chris completed their projects.. at his own expense. Chris fulfilled commitments only for the sake of integrity and that it was his name on the line." Really? Could it have possibly been that he had their deposits in his pocket and he feared they would likely have gone after him for them? Lisa had no such investment with him... she just got suckered into a promotional contest. Paul just spent hours of his professional time and promoted the Hell out of Metallo Arts. Integrity? Really?

    Lying is still lying. Personal tragedy not withstanding (everybody has them). It's no excuse. AA: You might want to dust off your resume. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I'd think twice about putting my career in his hands.

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  34. I'm sure thatTheAssistant and TheDon truly believe Chris has good intentions, but they'll quit humping Chris's leg one of these days when they figure out what kind of guy he is. It takes some people longer than others but, inevitably, it will happen.

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  35. I was working for Metallo Arts back at the time the contest happened. Looking back on it, I seriously doubt that Lisa would have ever gotten her hood, no matter what happened with the business. Chris certainly never expressed any interest in her ideas, he just kept brushing it off, saying stuff like, "We'll send her something we have on the floor, and she'll be happy."

    Paul was just another in the long line of people suckered into doing PR work for Chris. Some, like Paul, just did it out of good will. Some were promised money and then never paid. Some actually were paid... and these were the times when the employees of the business weren't getting paid, the bills weren't getting paid, etc. At no time during my experience with the business were clients' needs, or even basic ethics, taken one one billionth as seriously as Chris's public image. Maybe this situation will force that to change? Hopefully.

    LOL @ TheDon and TheAssistant above. Nice.

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  36. I would like to share with you some public knowledge. I would have wished someone would have called us.


    My motive is to try to stop the continuation of fraud and deceptive business practices and personal destruction perpetrated by Christopher Lee Plummer.


    Another Christopher Lee Plummer drama unfolds. He has a whole life of them, but let’s get one thing straight from the get go, all of the “tragedy” mentioned here has been single handedly without question been brought on by Chris’s erratic behavior.



    His business folded this past Summer because he decided, after getting his 21-year old personal assistant pregnant (watch out Don), that he needed an out. He looked up a past girlfriend on Facebook and split town inside of two weeks to go live with her in Beaufort, South Carolina leaving behind, a wife and a three year old child saddled with massive debt incurred by Chris. He left vendors with large outstanding balances, a host of unsatisfied customers, and disgruntled employees to whom he had made big promises.



    Chris Plummer is a common con artist.

    Raina Cox said:

    Reminds me of an old saying: "The talentless sociopaths are in jail, the talented ones are in business."

    Do a Google search of Christopher Lee Plummer, anarchist and you are in for a real treat. Chris is a felon was in jail for a very long time where he created a false persona as a political prisoner to raise money for himself. Lies. Lies. Lies. Here is the truth.....He was not a political prisoner....He was convicted for - car theft , burglary of a habitation and car theft again

    He has led a life of using people, stealing from people and lying, he was married and knew he was married when he married our daughter.This is called bigamy, therefor he is a bigamist.

    His work is shoddy many of his clients have been dissatisfied with his work.

    Anyone who has known Chris Plummer for more than a blip, knows what he is. To his new “friends and family” and his supporters of his latest endeavor ''Plumm Design,'' or ''CLP Design'' which is located in Beaufort, South Carolina. I would strongly advise that you heed the warning of those of us who have experienced, first-hand, the destruction this person causes to those around him.

    He threatens everyone with lawsuits, and that he is known for bullying tactics...
    "Get in line Paul, he has threatened to sue everyone, including me his mother in law"Barbara J. Hanlon.

    It brings us great comfort to know that the realities of this individual have been revealed as he has hurt many people and will continue to do so.

    I might add those who are currently defending him, how long have you actually known him? Remember the best forecaster of the future is history.

    For those who have been burned in business by this man Christopher Lee Plummer it is most unfortunate, but for us the personal victims we have paid and will continue to pay the ultimate price.

    Barbara Hanlon

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  37. yeah - he still owes alot of folks money - total liar that one. I will never ever ever do business with him again, and suggest others support businesses with integrity and talent, not this schmuck's.

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  38. Well Paul, I hope that any guilt that you may have felt for this whole thing not going well is now gone. You're lucky this whole thing didn't turn out worse :(

    Makes me wonder who the "commenters" speaking up on his behalf really are. Having worked in online marketing for a long while, I'm well aware of how often people pose as "happy customers" or employees to say good things about *themselves*. Maybe that's just the skeptic in me talking, but something to consider.

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  39. Barbara, thank you for providing the full story. Good luck to you and your family; it sounds like you will be in need of it. One more small note in defense of Paul: I won the lovely Michael Graves-designed tea kettle provided by Alessi. It is a nice little piece of "art" for our kitchen and it is very well-used! My experience with Paul and with his vendor have been nothing but excellent.

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  40. Barbara and Than, thank you. Pam, Anon, Nim and Kathy; thanks to you too.

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  41. Wow!!!This is a big step up to how much of a trail Chris "pretty boy" plummer has left behind. My name is Gary and I was one of the first ones he used once he got out of prison. He needed someone with credit to get a business started and I was one of his support groups while he was in. Moved to Austin, TX in hopes of helping a fellow Anarchist to get back on his feet and deal with the outside world again.
    Within months he had convinced me to start up a business of "Faux" painting with the name Faux Reality. Well, it did not take long before Chris had racked up close to $4,ooo worth of, well I am not sure what the "f" he bought. In a year he had burned too many bridges in Austin and stole a dear friend from this community by bringing her to other states to begin what has led us to this point.
    I still have his debt and he is still spilling lies.
    Believe me, there is a LOT in between this that makes a real good story. He has hurt many a more good people than me. I just hate the @$#%#$%

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  42. Gary: Someone's trying to reach you, would you please e-mail me? Thanks and thanks for your comment.

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  43. CLP's face book page is interesting, appears he is LEAVING the industry. I I am sure that there is more to it.

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  44. Holy bat breath! I cannot resist going and looking up this guy! And the truth is most everything you want to know about someone is on the internet somewhere...if you know where to look. I suggest anyone getting "into bed" with some business guy like this do a good research..hopefully, and not always, you might find any skeletons. Paul, you should be commended for having the courage to speak up on your forum. Many would not and I think it is a good thing and might save someone else from a similiar predicament.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. George, can you please contact me? Thanks.

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  47. Wow, I too have known Chris most of his/my life, lived with him in Houston and NYC. I know He has had issues, and led a pretty rough life early on but this all seems a tad bit excessive. There is alot of untruth here.
    Feel free to ask me.

    PS hi george... from what i remember you dont have alot of room to talk, but that was all in like 8th grade right?

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  48. Anonymous, a lot is 2 words.

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  49. Hello - I thought people might be curious to know that it seems he has another new company - called Bastille Metal Works. It has some same info as the CLP designs site. It links to other new companies also so maybe the idea is to have a series of related companies

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  50. Hi everyone!!!

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  51. Wow! I really hate that I did not see this blog prior to entering into a “contract” with Christopher Lee Plummer (Bastille Metal Works AKA Metallo, etc.) to build a custom zinc hood for my personal kitchen. I own a kitchen and bath showroom in NC and was searching for a unique custom range hood to be the focal point of my kitchen. My Designer found Chris on the internet and I fell in love with the pictures of the work featured there. After discussing the project and seeing a sample of the cast zinc product, I excitedly hired him to build my custom hood. That was July, 2010. It’s now October 12, 2010 and I was expecting him to deliver and install it today. Only, he’s no where to be found and totally unresponsive to any form of communication. Now, I’m at the completion of my remodeling project with no hood and starting over with my search to find the perfect hood. Fortunately, I paid by credit card and so I have some consumer fraud protection. But, I’m left trying to understand how and why someone could do this. I should have trusted my instincts from the beginning. I hope that his next “victim” will find this blog prior to doing any business with him.

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  52. Tonya, can you drop me an e-mail? Somebody would like to talk to you about this.

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  53. I just found this thread when google searching chris plummer. I do that every so often to see where he is because some years ago chris stole alot of money and property from many people in texas. Just as this other person experienced, chris usually followed theft with threats and games, only the threats in texas were physical.
    sorry that yall had to deal with him...

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  54. Chris did a fabulous job at our home, not sure where people get this info, But he was helpful to say the least.

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  55. Wow. Just wow.

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  56. All I know about the guy is that he got out of prison and ended up living/fucking a 16 year old girl~ I believe that is statutory rape...Though I could be wrong~ Also...If you look at/or know of the details of why the company went over you need to examine how his business partner...Possibly with out due cause...Ousted him out because he decided to estrangre his child and wife for a lost connection with an old flame~ Don't much trust the guy...Though local anarchy groups call him a poser~ Oh...He can stand in line...CLP that is...For I am sure he will be waiting in line in attempt to secure some type of financial settlement for the people I know he has fucked over for sure!

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  57. I too have been a victim of theft by Metallo Arts aka Christopher Lee Plummer aka Plumm Design. $3,100.00 deposit and a lot of empty promises. He was brazen enough to demand the other 50% before he would deliver. I then got a call from an applogetic employee that the hood was never made. This guy is a true con artist. STAY AWAY FROM HIM OR ANY COMPANY YOU MAY THINK HE IS ASSOCIATED WITH. We are contacting the Beaufort County Magistrate and Sherrif's department.

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  58. Chris hasn't been in Savannah for too long and has managed to acquire this:

    http://savannahmugs.com/mug/christopher-lee-plummer

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  59. Paul (the author of the post)
    Can you please add that Christopher Plummer is currently the CEO of Bastille Metal Works in Savannah - so folks who are about to hire him see this.

    www.linkedin.com/pub/christopher-plummer/46/109/49a

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  60. And this...a TEDx talk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-99f5fCyKg&feature=autoplay&list=SP909D2FBCCEC3CDFF&playnext=1

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  61. Paul,

    I have been approached three times in the last few weeks about writing a post on the new company and it's products. I told the head of PR I would write something because she sent images of installations that look beautifully executed. If the story that's told here and in your readers comments is true, I won't even consider doing it. Your post comes up at the top of a Google search and I'm sure he's aware of that. Am I correct to assume that you are connecting the people you've asked to email you to someone who is interested in his activities? I'm going to DM you on TW, so please let me know if my instinct to walk away is correct.

    Thanks,
    K

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