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Company sends debt collector to fire victim for not making payments on something that was destroyed

The KVUE Defenders helped a woman deal with a company that wouldn't listen to reason.

AUSTIN, Texas — Don't ask Grace Richardson "What's new?" unless you have some time.

"This little shelf is new," she pointed out, "a beautiful new couch and chair."

It's new – as well as her speakers, record player, microwave and television. In fact, everything in her apartment is either new or new to her.

But Richardson is not flaunting good fortune – oh no, quite the opposite.  

"It really does feel like the phoenix rising from the ashes," she said. 

Last September, her South Austin apartment burned. 

"I looked out my bedroom window and saw that my balcony was on fire," she said.

The massive fire destroyed two apartment buildings. She, her roommate and their dogs got out, but everything inside and outside of her home, including her car, was destroyed.

It is overwhelming just processing the precious things she lost, including a pair of silk pajamas her grandfather had gotten for her grandmother during the Korean war.

But something with no sentimental value at all is what's been giving Richardson the most grief – the washer and dryer.

Ever since the fire, she's gone round and round with the company where she rented them from.

The company is called Appliance Warehouse. Grace said she contacted them soon after to tell them about the fire, "just to pause the account so that we wouldn't keep getting bills."

But that didn't work. She was still being billed for a washer and dryer that didn't exist anymore. That's despite repeated email conversations with Appliance Warehouse over a period of months. And then, Appliance Warehouse sicked a debt collector on her.

"It was like all humanity was taken out of it," she recalled.


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She contacted the KVUE Defenders.

"I had seen a piece you guys had done before, helping out somebody else," she said. 

KVUE called Appliance Warehouse. The person Richardson had been communicating with took KVUE's information but then hung up. 

KVUE left a few more messages and fired off some emails and it worked.

Richardson said, "KVUE Defenders definitely solved the case for me."

Appliance Warehouse wiped the debt clean, called off the collector and threw in a $100 gift card as an apology.

"I wouldn't have been able to do this on my own," said Richardson. "I've been trying for six months and it took you guys less than a week."

It's a development as new as, well, everything else in her life.

If you have an issue you'd like the KVUE Defenders to investigate, let us know. Send an email to defenders@kvue.com or give us a call at 512-533-2231.


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