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.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.
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.
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.