WEST PALM BEACH - After 50 years, a well known sandal maker's factory is dark. Is Stephen Bonanno out of business?
Consumer Watchdog Jenn Strathman tracked him down to find out, but he drove off. A few minutes later, he returned and answered the questions that have surrounded Stephen Bonanno Sandals since the company held a rare fifty-percent off sale in January.
"We're not closed, first off. We are just moving to a new location. We have two places we are looking at right now. That's why we have all the boxes. Right now we are moving them into the new place," Bonanno explained.
"Were you evicted from this old location?" Strathman asked.
"We were not," Bonanno explained.
Calls to the real estate company were not returned, and nothing is filed in court.
Bonanno is under fire because nearly 197 women paid for sandals in January, but still haven't received them.
In September Stephen Bonanno Sandals told us he's not going anywhere and he will deliver the orders, but his doors are locked and the factory is cleaned out worrying customers.
Customers from Kansas to Atlanta have called the Consumer Watchdog for answers.
"That is some really shady business," said Meghan Weems from Atlanta.
Weems got caught up in the backlog when she sent two pairs of sandals to get re-soled.
"I owned those shoes for 10 years so I'd like to have them back even if they are not repaired, because it's my property," said Weems.
Weems is a government contractor who was furloughed for 17 days during the shutdown, and won't be paid for the time she didn't work due to her contract. She value her property that's missing and the repairs at over $300.
"I want my sandals back or I want my money back so I can buy new sandals," said Weems.
Many customers say their credit card company won't offer a refund because their cards were charged more than 60 days ago. Many women have been waiting since January.
Bonanno said 4,000 orders were placed during that January sale, and he never expected such a response.
Strathman asked, "People are losing trust at this point. How can they be assured they are going to get them when you are closing your storefront?"
Bonanno replied, "Our storefront is not what makes the sandals. Our factory makes the sandals."
He says he hopes to have a new factory location within a week, but doubts there will be a retail store.
Strathman said, "You know customer service is the most important thing and you lost a lot of customer through this?"
Bonanno replied, "I know customer service is the most important thing. That's why we lasted 50 years in business because we gave great customer service throughout 50 years. This latest tailspin has hurt us and has hurt our customer service as well as our brand. Of course, we want it back. We want our customers to believe in us again, and we will get that respect and appreciation back from our customers again," Bonanno said.
Bonanno said his company will call all the customers still waiting for orders and offer refunds if they want.
"Everyone will be taken care of," Bonanno said.
Strathman replied, "We're going to hold you to it."
If you would like to contact Bonanno call 561-502-7970.