HOUSTON – A woman in Florida is speaking out, claiming she paid Christal Clear Designs over six figures for interior design work but the company never came to her home.
“They were supposed to do renovations, but they never even came at all. No one ever came and I never got any furniture. Nothing has been done. This has been going on since 2020,” Toyesha Smarr said.
For the past two weeks, we have told you about five other victims who experienced the same problem with the interior designer firm.
Several former employees have also spoken out.
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Here is what we have learned so far,
-The owners, Octavia and Jessie Christal, have not responded to our emails and phone calls.
-The Secretary of State involuntarily dissolved the business last year.
-The company’s warehouse on Old Katy Road has been locked because of failure to pay rent, and the website no longer works.
KPRC’s Re’Chelle Turner spoke to the Better Business Bureau, who says it is important to do your homework and research the company before you give them any money.
The BBB says you can search the business online and see if anything comes up that could be a red flag. The victim in Florida feels like she was targeted.
“My name is Toyesha Smarr, and I paid Christal Clear Designs $105,000,” Smarr said.
Smarr Face Timed Turner from her home in the Tampa, Florida area. She says she reached out to Christal Clear Designs after seeing their work on social media.
“I found them on Instagram and a couple of my followers actually got them to design their property, so I did a little bit of research and I felt really comfortable moving forward,” she said.
Smarr says the company gave her a detailed invoice with the cost for each project. She even picked out furniture and different pieces for her home.
“I start giving them deposits, $5,000 here…. $20,000 here…not all at once, everything was still going well,” she said.
Smarr shared copies of her receipts showing she sent Christal Clear Designs additional payments for $43,300; $15,000; $9,716; and $5,000.
“I knew it was a change when I gave them the last payment back in 2022. Conversation and everything stopped then,” Smarr said.
“We recommend you only pay less than a third upfront. Basically, it’s like the rule of thirds, no more than a third upfront and then as the work goes on then you can pay the next third and then only pay the final third after the job has been completed,” Leah Napoliello said.
Napoliello, of the Better Business Bureau, says never pay the full amount up front and ask for references. The agency has not received any complaints or reviews on Christal Clear Designs but says it’s important to investigate before you invest.
“Especially for a huge expensive job. So, take some time to look them up online. See what you can find. Look at the BBB to see if we have complaints or reviews and read them and see what other customers have said,” Napoliello said.
The BBB says you can file a complaint or review by sending the information in writing. They will send it to the business or contractor. If the BBB does not receive a response, they will issue a report showing that they are unresponsive to the complaints.
As for Smarr, she is working with her to try and get her money bank. She also plans to take legal action.
The Better Business Bureau says it’s important to have a trusted and vetted contractor when hiring someone for a job.
- Research and gather information
- Ask for references
- Ask for multiple quotes
- Get it in writing
- Verify license and insurance
- Arrange a payment schedule
- Get a receipt
- Keep your contract
For more tips from the BBB, click here.