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Grieving families upset with Greenfield headstone company over delays

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Posted at 12:24 AM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 20:56:21-04

GREENFIELD — Grieving families are raising concerns about a monument-making business they say has been slow to deliver headstones and refunds.

WRTV Investigates has learned Greenfield Police is investigating Greenfield Granite after receiving numerous consumer complaints.

Greenfield Granite has been fixture in the community for more than 120 years, and the company’s longevity is one of the reasons customers say they trusted the company.

Mary Collins is still struggling with the death of her husband of 40 years.

Norman Collins passed away in September at the age of 72, and is buried at Park Cemetery in Greenfield.

"I'm coming out to a pile of dirt,” Mary said. “I can't sit with him."

On February 11, Mary paid Greenfield Granite $1,859 for a park bench memorial.

Her contract with the company says the memorial would be placed in about 8 to 10 weeks.

After Memorial Day came and went with no bench, Mary started to worry but says Greenfield Granite’s owner Amie Strohl kept reassuring her.

"I said my husband's birthday is June 15 can you please have it set for that? She said ‘Oh yeah no problem,’” Mary said. “Didn't happen. I got a little upset and is said, 'What's going on?’ She said, ‘I promise you will have your stone for Father's Day.’ I got nothing."

Mary filed complaints with Greenfield Police, the Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau and WRTV Investigates.

"This was the last thing I could buy for my husband, and she took it," Mary said.

Mary already paid another company to do her husband’s bench, and sent a certified letter requesting a refund from Greenfield Granite.

“It's been awful. I can't explain it,” Mary said. “At the beginning, I thought I was the only one. When a friend posted about the company on social media, we started getting so many people respond that it's happening to them. It's happening to so many people."

WRTV Investigates has talked with half a dozen other Greenfield Granite customers with heartbreaking stories about delayed headstones or refunds.

Sheila Carson ordered her mother’s headstone from Greenfield Granite a year ago, on August 11, 2019.

"We've missed all of these holidays with her to have somewhere to go and visit and put flowers out,” Sheila said. “It's just been excuse after excuse."

Melissa Rieskamp said she’s struggled to get a refund which she requested after she had a hard time getting ahold of Greenfield Granite about her son’s memorial.

"It's unfortunate that we have to revisit that day that we lost a loved one,” Melissa said. “It's unfortunate that we have to relive this. The only thing we get is excuses."

Kathy Diefenderfer told WRTV Investigates she’s been waiting 10 months for a headstone that should have taken two months to deliver, per her contract.

"It's been a nightmare,” Kathy said. “I just want closure for my son. We can go see him, and it's not there. It's just really hard."

WRTV Investigates scheduled an August 12 interview with Greenfield Granite’s owner Amie Strohl, but she canceled the day before.

On the phone, Strohl blamed the pandemic and told us she was working on rectifying the situation.

"I understand there are some people who have been upset about some things, but I'm trying to correct that as we are speaking right now,” Strohl said.

Strohl said was trying to get customers refunds.

“Things have been different this year with the way COVID has ran,” Strohl said. “We are getting people money back. We are trying our best to get people taken care of.”

Strohl referred WRTV to her attorney who told us, “Amie has resolved her customer issues and has explained what was behind the problems. She will not participate in an interview."

Amie Strohl posted a fundraising link on Gofundme on June 8 asking people to donate to her business that’s been “hit hard by COVID-19.”

WRTV Investigates has requested more information from Strohl and her attorney about how COVID-19 impacted the memorial-making business, but they have not responded.

WRTV Investigates checked with Tyler Rankins, Greenfield’s Street Commissioner who oversees Park Cemetery who said the only restrictions put in place at the cemetery were for walk-in customers at the cemetery office only.

“There were never any restrictions from working on cemetery grounds, such as foundation work, burials, weed eating, etc.,” Rankins said in an email to WRTV. “The only restrictions that were put in place at the cemetery was during the first 6 weeks of the pandemic. This restriction limited walk-in customers from the cemetery office only.”

Greenfield Police Department Lt. Nichole Gilbert said they’ve received multiple complaints from consumers about paying money upfront for services that were only partially or never completed.

“Our case is still very much active,” Gilbert said.

Amie Strohl also has one pending small claims filed against her by Bessie Williams, a Greenfield woman who says she paid $2,800 for a headstone ordered last fall.

A bench trial is scheduled in Hancock County court on September 8, records show.

After WRTV Investigates started asking Greenfield Granite questions, some families started seeing results.

Melissa Rieskamp received her $2,504 refund from Greenfield Granite.

Sheila Carson said work has finally begun on her mother’s gravesite, but she is still waiting on her headstone.

Mary Collins is still waiting on her refund, and Kathy Diefenderfer is still waiting for her son’s headstone.

“It’s not even the money,” Kathy said. “We want closure for our loved ones.”

Families we spoke with say they want Greenfield Granite to offer an explanation and an apology, and consumers want to warn others about the company’s business practices.

CONSUMER TIPS

  • Ask for references
  • Run the business name and owner’s name through MyCase to check for criminal or civil cases
  • Never pay everything up front; hold back at least half the payment until the product is delivered or the job is finished
  • Pay by credit card; it has a lot more protection than cash or check
  • Get a written contract
  • Keep all records related to your project. This includes the contract, change orders, warranties, and correspondence.
  • If problems continue, put your complaints in writing and send them to the contractor. Be sure to keep a copy of these complaints for your records.

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