Ruth to the Rescue roundup: Consumers win refunds

Joy Breeze of Macomb has always enjoyed sitting by a warm fire, and last year she decided to hire a local business to build a new fireplace in her home. She paid $2,500 up front, and waited for the beautiful new fireplace to be build. That was in January, 2012, but she never got her new fireplace.

"Everything looked legit in every way. I just thought what a fine young man," said Breeze.

That fine young man was Peter Pone of Fireplace Design Center. Breeze had hired Pone to do some repairs on her current fireplace, and she had nothing but good things to say about that first experience. She says she never expected problems with the new project.

"To know that somebody just turns around and doesn't keep their word, doesn't show integrity, just broke my heart," she told Ruth to the Rescue. We first told you this story in late January. Back then, Pone did not respond to our calls about the situation.

Later, Pone told Ruth to the Rescue that he had mailed Breeze a refund last year. Breeze told us she never received a check, and Pone admitted his check was never cashed. He promised Ruth to the Rescue he would work with Breeze to make things right.

Three weeks later, Breeze tells Ruth to the Rescue she has her $2,500 refund.

"I am just so thankful to all of you. And to Ruth, my hats off to her with just great and joyous gratitude," said Breeze.

Bank refund battle

Denis and Patricia McCarthy were hoping to refinance their condo in Howell. They say an agent from Bank of America told them everything looked good, and they paid $440 for an appraisal, knowing it was non-refundable.

"A year prior to this, we contacted Bank of America about refinancing from a 15 year to a 30 years mortgage and they jumped right at it." Denis McCarthy told Ruth to the Rescue.

However, when McCarthy was told his application was rejected this time, because their condo subdivision was not yet fully built out, he felt the agent missed a glaring red flag in the approval process.

"I expected straight up forward questions that would have told us, ok- you're not going to get it because you're not built out," said McCarthy.

McCarthy says he even wrote a letter to the CEO of Bank of America, but could not get a refund. After Ruth to the Rescue got involved, McCarthy got his money back.

"If it wasn't for Ruth to the Rescue, this wouldn't have happened...And like I said, I'll give her a big hug and a kiss!" said McCarthy with gratitude.

All bank customers can learn a lesson from this story: ask any bank A LOT of questions before you pay for the appraisal. Try to learn what red flags might block the approval process, and don't spend the money if you think there's an obvious reason your application might be denied, and you'd lost that money.

Bank of America released this statement to Ruth to the Rescue.

Bank of America Home Loans is committed to providing mortgage applicants with a full view of the mortgage underwriting process, including issues that may impact the approval of their loan. Since the issues involved with Mr. McCarthy's loan approval may not have been fully understood and discussed during the initial stages of the mortgage process, we decided to refund the appraisal fee paid by Mr. McCarthy.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you have a consumer dispute you'd like Ruth to the Rescue to investigate: Either call (313) 298-WDIV or send an email to

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