BBB Investigation: Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales cleans out consumers’ possessions

ID-1008377Liquidating an estate is a difficult time, especially for those who have lost a loved one. Unfortunately, San Antonio-based Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales has made a hard time even worse for some families by conducting estate sales without turning over the proceeds.

The company claims to liquidate properties through estate sales, but consumers report receiving excuses, incomplete inventory of sold items and no money. Consumers typically find the Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales through the company’s website and advertising in online directories and forums.

As of April 3, 2014, Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin received 20 complaints against Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales in the last 12 months. The business has failed to address consumers’ concerns regarding 25 complaints. The business resolved some complaints by making payments to the consumer. However, the business has not responded to BBB complaints since August 2012.

Complaints about Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales had a common theme: Consumers said the business did not deliver the services it promised. Complaints state that consumers hire the business to sell estate items, but never receive payment. Complaints also state the company is unresponsive when consumers inquire about when the payments will be made.

BBB contacted the business by mail and phone about its pattern of complaint, but received no response. Calls went directly to voicemail.

Keri Rutherford of New Braunfels said she contracted with Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales to conduct an estate sale. She said she never received any money from the sale and is owed approximately $7,000.

“She [owner Janet Holland] came to the house and gave a really good talk. I arranged to have her conduct a three-day sale in October. I contracted with her and was to be paid Nov. 15. That came and went a long time ago,” she said. “The first day before she started the sale, there were already a few items missing. She said she had taken some items home. I said ‘You’re going to pay for them right?’ and she said she would bring them back.”

Rutherford said the company also failed to turn over promised receipts for unsold items that were to be donated to charity.

“I got no money, not even an itemized list,” Rutherford said. “I called her several times and always got some excuse. Then she stopped answering. The office number was disconnected and she wouldn’t answer her cellphone.”

Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to help select a trustworthy estate sale service:

  • Start with trust. Check out any business at bbb.org to view their BBB Business Review free of charge. There you will find the company’s history of complaints and contact information. For a list of Accredited Businesses, go to checkbbb.org.
  • Shop around. Set up appointments to interview at least two or three services. Ask a trusted realtor, banker or attorney for recommendations.
  • Do your research. Before setting up an initial consultation, ask how long the estate sales agent has been in business, whether they are members of professional associations, if they are bonded and insured, and if they can provide professional references.
  • Ask about fees and commissions. What percentage of the proceeds will the business keep for commissions? Will you be responsible for any up-front or out-of-pocket costs (appraisals, security measures, trash removal)?
  • Find out when and how you will be paid. When are the sales proceeds paid to you and how (cash, cashier’s check)? Will you receive an itemized list of everything that was sold?
  • Know what you’re signing. Do not sign a contract unless you understand the services to be provided, out-of-pocket fees you’ll be charged and how and when you’ll receive payment of the sales proceeds.
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6 Responses to BBB Investigation: Clean Sweep Estate & Garage Sales cleans out consumers’ possessions

  1. Mary Miller says:

    I read on another blog that Janet Craig Holland may still be conducting estate sales through Antiquen.com. I know she was arrested in San Antonio in March 2014 for theft from an elderly person. Bexar County arrest records indicate she was also charged with fraud and burglary.

  2. Mary Miller says:

    This is the info I found on another site regarding Janet Craig Holland. I have copied it word for word:

    Janet Craig Holland of Clean Sweep Estate Sales is now operating under a different name from a different location. It is called Antiquen Treasures, in Converse, TX. Her name doesn’t appear anywhere, but her home address (where I sent certified letters) is linked to the Facebook page. Her name is not there, and you must enter YOUR information on the website for someone to contact You. She was arrested after the Troubleshooters report aired. But she just changes her business name and location and moves on! How in the world can this woman continue to do business?

    • Gail Wylie says:

      That is my post above. There has been no activity on her Antiquen Treasures Facebook page since April. It is also shocking that her staff continues to work with her. They have to be aware of what is going on. My brother went to one of her subsequent sales looking for her, & told her staff we hadn’t gotten paid, and she wasn’t answering calls. She was on a cruise at the time! She got more than she bargained for with us ~ we threatened (and did some artful bluffing about video & lists made before & after the sale) until she finally paid. For others not quite so tenacious, maybe now there will be some justice.

  3. Hope Dufner says:

    Yep, we got ripped off too. Has had our stuff since January and we’ve never been paid.

  4. Gail Wylie says:

    She is now under investigation by the Attorney General’s office. I suggest you turn over anything you have to them to assist with their investigation.

  5. Anne Hardin says:

    My mother and I got ripped off as well. It took months to get paid, and many items were missing from the list that we finally got. She is a crook and a liar.

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