BOSTON – Rebecca and Justin Avery have been married for years, but they feel a lot like the couples WBZ’s I-Team exposed after they were jilted on their big day by a now defunct wedding vendor.
“We were going to have roses and climbing flowers go over,” explained Rebecca walking through her Southborough patio. She planned to transform it into an English country style dining area.
“Rebecca came to me and was like, ‘I found these people that make the type of furniture that we want,'” said Justin. It was an Instagram business, Free.Range.Farmhouse. A few messages later, the company agreed to make a custom archway and table. “It was a $6,000 job. He asked for $3,000 up front,” he said.
The furniture never came. At one point, the woodworker dropped off a rough loaner table, but messages from the Averys over more than a year show growing frustration. “When we got to a year, we were like look, we could probably grow the tree to make the table in the amount of time this is taking,” said Justin.
When the couple asked for their deposit back, the business promised a series of payments. “He sent $300. I was like you missed a zero,” said Justin.
By then, the Averys connected the dots to the I-Team coverage four years ago exposing another business called Rustic Weddings, run by the same couple, Joe and Faleesha Gaylord.
“How dare they? How dare they mess up the best day of someone’s life,” said Cara Katz back then. The bride was among at least six couples who told the I-Team the Gaylords took deposits, and never delivered what they promised would arrive by their wedding day. “I freaked out. I didn’t know what to expect,” she said through tears.
Years later, the Gaylords have filed for bankruptcy, and say they’ve relocated to Maine. Court records show they owed more than $265,000 from seven lawsuits including a more than $32,000 settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General. “I think he should have a warning label tattooed on himself to be honest with you,” said Justin Avery.
The Gaylords sent the I-Team an explanation about the most recent complaints. “In the spring, there were material delays, as have been common over the past year with multiple suppliers and supply chain issues…” Also adding, “…while awaiting the material, one of our daughters became severely ill.” Their Instagram account displays dozens of completed projects and complimentary comments.
Ed Dworsky of Consumer World says it’s best to avoid instant cash transfers when doing business with artisans who operate on social media.
“Under federal law, you can challenge a charge. You can ask the credit card issuer to reverse the charge if there’s a misrepresentation of the product, or if you didn’t get the product,” he said. “You don’t have those rights when you send a check and if you use Zelle.”
“It would be nice to get our money back,” said Rebecca Avery. “But really at the end of the day, I just don’t want him to continue to do this to other people,” she said.
Massachusetts Attorney General’s consumer office tells the I-Team, investigators are now looking into two complaints from customers of the Gaylords’ latest business, Free.Range.Farmhouse.