Austin-based Threadstart.org promotes itself as a way for non-profit groups and individuals to create, buy and sell custom T-shirts and other apparel. Unfortunately, consumers and non-profit groups told BBB ThreadStart did not deliver products after taking payment and did not give promised donations. Consumers also allege they haven’t received promised refunds.
Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin, has closed 17 complaints about ThreadStart in the last year as of Dec. 17. Recently, BBB has also received complaints that are pending a resolution.
The business is owned by Zachary Folk of Austin, who is also a director of a non-profit corporation called Common Threadz. According to Commonthreadz.org, the charity is “a non-profit helping disadvantaged children & rural villages in the developing world through community development programs that empower the kids, their community, and the local grassroots organizations that support them.” According to BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance (give.org), the charity chose not to disclose requested information.
Folk responded to some BBB complaints by promising refunds and in some cases delivery of the consumer’s order and a refund. However, some complaints were closed unresolved because consumers stated the business already made similar promises and did not follow through.
A BBB investigator contacted several complainants who said the company promised to refund their money, but did not actually issue a refund. Consumers typically stated they ordered products in an effort to benefit a charity which had promoted ThreadStart via social media.
The BBB investigator also contacted complainants who said ThreadStart had made arrangements to sell custom clothing and contribute a portion of the proceeds to their charity. However, the complainants told BBB that ThreadStart never contributed to their organizations and had charged their supporters for products that were never delivered.
A BBB investigator contacted Threadstart by phone on Dec. 4 and left a voice message saying BBB had questions about unresolved complaints, but has not received a return call as of Dec. 17.
ThreadStart.org’s website was active on Dec. 4, but as of Dec. 17, the website’s main page is blank except for the words, “Coming Soon.” However, links to fundraiser pages for various organizations appeared to be active as of Dec. 17.
ThreadStart is not registered with the Texas Secretary of State, but Folk told BBB in March 2014 that it is a sole proprietorship that is in the process of being incorporated in Nevada.
Folk is also a registered agent for Scholartees.org, an apparel-related website with the same address as ThreadStart, in a residential neighborhood in Austin. Scholartees.org states that teachers and students can design T-shirts and receive $8 for their classroom projects for each item sold. The website is still active as of Dec. 17.
Tiffany Fisher said ThreadStart agreed to produce clothing to support a cancer-related charity in Canada, but people who ordered to support the fundraiser did not receive their items. She said the company has made many promises to refund consumers, but hasn’t done so after more than a year.
“It was an initiative I spearheaded,” Fisher said. “People with our organization paid several thousand dollars. They said they would design the T-shirts for free. ThreadStart said a percentage of the sales would go back to the charity.
“I lost $500. My brother lost $500. I think people supporting our organization lost a total of around $5,000, but that’s a guess. I can’t tell how many people bought from them to support us. He won’t tell us. Everyone I asked didn’t get their order.”
Joanne Zimmermann of New Jersey said she ordered $74.95 worth of merchandise from ThreadStart to support an animal rescue organization and never received her order. She ordered two shirts and a pair of sweatpants.
“The rescue group posted a fundraiser on Facebook,” she said. “You could order different clothing with dogs and $10 per order was to go to the rescue group. I placed an order. It had been a while and my order didn’t come in. When I first contacted them, they said they had problems with a printer and assured me it would come. I let it go a little more. A couple of months later, they still promised a refund and an extra item. They still haven’t sent the items.”
When buying merchandise online, BBB offers the following advice:
- Pay with a credit card. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed up to 60 days after the purchase.
- Keep documentation of your order. After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or an email confirmation. Save any receipts for future reference.
- Know your rights. Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.
- Do your research. Check the company’s BBB Business Review at bbb.org before making a purchase to see its complaint history, details about complaints and any advertising-related issues.