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On Your Side: Consumer group says ‘use caution’ with Ozark, Mo. online kids clothes store

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 4:14 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) -The Better Business Bureau asks you to use caution with an online kids clothing store based in Ozark.

One mother says she paid nearly $200 for her daughter’s Christmas gift and it never arrived. Amara’s Apparel had an online Black Friday sale. Felishia McFarland lives in Ohio and says her clothes were supposed to arrive in mid-December.

“She could have just sent out all of our stuff and it would have been a done deal,” said McFarland. “She could have just provided the stuff that we paid for.”

McFarland says she asked for a refund and never received it. She filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have no income. That was my daughter’s clothes for Christmas. I then had to just try to find some money. I had to sell my clothes so I could buy her some new clothes after I did not get my $178 refund,” she said.

On Your Side went to the business address in Ozark. The space has a new tenant.

Amara’s Apparel has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. There are more than thirty complaints about delivery issues. The BBB sent out this warning.

On Your Side called and emailed the business. We got an email response. It reads in part:

Amaras Apparel actively issued refunds to those who requested to the best of abilities.

There’s a Facebook group for upset customers. It has more than one thousand members.

The statement says ‘group members encouraged bullying of the owner’s mental health, pregnancy, threats towards our family, and involvement of the owner’s child’s welfare.’

“Now she’s acting like she’s the victim. It just doesn’t make any sense,” said McFarland.

On Your Side emailed the business again asking for an on-camera interview and if they’ll refund all orders. We have not heard back.

On Your Side advice for online store shopping.

Do your homework. Check reviews. If there are no reviews, that’s a red flag.

Be wary of sales and prices that seem too good to be true.

Pay by credit card. That way if there’s an issue, you might be able to get your money back.

As always, read the fine print. Understand refund policies.

You can read the full BBB warning here.

From Amara’s Apparel:

Here is our statement/response to the BBB alert.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a comment.

The majority of accusations have stemmed from a locally competing business that had closed down weeks prior to the beginning of the accusations towards Amaras Apparel, started by that business owner and her friends. This individual has also made it clear numerous times both in writing through social media, as well as on video that she intended to “ruin” the owner of Amara’s Apparel. It should also be noted this individual has never placed an order with Amara’s Apparel. The false accusations that originally came from the individual has caused panic and mistrust in our business, leading to an influx of refunds requested and issued. False claims were being encouraged by this group and ultimately led to business accounts being locked and order information to no longer be accessible. Amaras Apparel actively issued refunds to those who requested to the best of abilities. Amaras Apparel had also been actively cooperating with the BBB by giving responses to the claims, up until it was discovered a BBB employee was a part of a Facebook group of which the group members have previously encouraged bullying of the owner’s (of Amaras Apparel) mental health, pregnancy, threats towards our family, and involvement of the owners child’s welfare. This employee would notify the group members what was happening “behind the scenes” at the BBB regarding Amaras Apparel, and stated they were attempting to make sure the owner of Amaras Apparel could not own another business in the future. We found this inappropriate and have since not engaged with the BBB, which resulted in their article being published.

The result of this entire process has ultimately led the family to relocate and the small online business to no longer be operating. We sincerely hope this is an experience no other business owner, or anyone for that matter, should ever have to go through as it has led to significant emotional, physical, and mental health impacts to our family.

A lawyer has been contacted previously regarding the harassment, defamation, and monetary loss that has stemmed from this, on behalf of Amara’s Apparel.

We request, for the family’s safety and the safety of any new residents of previous properties; that personal information such as email address, previous addresses listed for the online business, or any other personal and private information not be shared publicly.

This systematic attempt to ruin a small business and the family running it, is an extremely devastating example of how far a competing business can go and we hope that others are able to speak out against bullying/harassment like this before it gets to this level. We are mostly worried that the next victim of an attack like this will result in much more tragedy than a loss of business and emotional damage. Bullying is very much real and active, especially online. And this is an example of how powerful social media can be, when used maliciously.

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