If you’re old — or have grandparents — you’re probably very familiar with the popular PBS program “Antiques Roadshow.” It’s that show where people wait in line all day to have someone appraise an antique, collectible or pointless garbage.
In effort to reel in some of the program’s viewers before they die, KFOR Channel 4 created a rip-off called “Trash or Treasure.” It airs each Wednesday during Linda Cavanaugh’s 4:30 news broadcast and features local estate auctioneer and appraiser Lyn Livingston. I’ve watched a few clips online and this show is pretty boring. It makes watching Steve Lackmeyer watch the Devon Tower Cam look exciting.
Over the weekend, we received an email from an individual named Rich. He had some interesting info to share about “Trash or Treasure’s” resident appraisal expert Lyn Livingston. Check out our (slightly edited for clarity) email exchange after the jump.
“KFOR has a program called “Trash or Treasure” featuring Lyn Livingston who runs a consignment auction business here in OKC. This business has an “F” rating with the BBB due to a large number of complaints about this business failure to pay consignors for the sold goods…”
“Ms. Livingston has defrauded me, but fortunately not much money is involved. I know others who have suffered much worse damage. I know the DA has been contacted, but apparently prefers to sit on his butt, as does the AG consumer fraud unit (or what is left of it). I guess theft is now legal in OKC, and I guess it will even get you your own TV show.”
“Do you have a link to the BBB rating?”
Here is a link to what the BBB has online. My information came from a telephone call to the BBB last week and was much more damning of this business. I was told “on a rating scale of A to F, this business is rated F.”
Livingston essentially stole a whole house full of one customer’s furniture, and his lawyer is meeting with the DA next week. KFOR has been contacted several times (including by me several times) and they refuse to return phone calls or emails. Of course, we will always have crooked businesses, and it seems it takes a lot of complaints to shut them down (especially in Oklahoma, for some reason). The real problem is KFOR’s implicit endorsement of this business, despite all the complaints it has received about it.
“Can you go on record?”
“I can go on record that we consigned a bunch of goods to her, and she has never accounted for them all. Of course, that is her word against mine. But I can also go on record that she HAS accounted for items which she claims to have paid for by check, and we never got it. Also, I can go on record that she has accounted for items sold for which she hasn’t even claimed to have sent us a check…”
“I will also go on record and state that we have tried to contact KFOR’s consumer protection reporter via phone (calls not returned), its program director (calls not returned) and have emailed KFOR (no response). Does this crook’s show have good ratings? It must.. We have been in contact with an individual who is soon to sue Livingston AND KFOR. But I must say that my wife and I will go on record about our personal experiences, armed with letters from Livingston which clearly show that some of our items were sold for which we were not paid.”
Based on Rich’s email, I checked with the Better Business Bureau and Livingston’s Auction and Gallery does indeed have an F-rating. The BBB doesn’t list specific complaints, but there have been seven claims filed against Livingston’s over the past three years. So far, the auction house has only responded to two of them.
Here some things I find interesting about Rich’s email:
1. KFOR is partnering with the head of an F-rated business for a weekly news segment. That’s kind of shady. Maybe for their next feature they can bring in someone from Guaranteed Auto Credit to give some tips on how to negotiate a lower price for a used car.
2. According to Rich, KFOR never replied to his emails. I’m not surprised. We emailed KFOR’s News Director during the Jim Gardner to Channel 9 fiasco. She never replied. I guess the only person at KFOR who replies to emails is Mike Morgan.
3. If Lyn Livingston didn’t partner with Channel 4, you know they’d be all “In Your Corner” on this. Scott Hines would probably be knocking on her office door right asking about Rich’s money and demanding that she return the rest of his goods. Rich would then talk about the items he lost and how sad it all is. After that, some kind man would come to his house and remove the rest of the tree limbs in his yard at no cost…or something like that. Isn’t that how all “In Your Corner” segments end?
Anyway, I guess we’ll wait and see if anything happens with this. Maybe Channel 9’s I-Team will do an investigation or something. It would be kind of funny to see Amanda Taylor barge on the set while Linda Cavanaugh drools over someone’s 1989 Olympic Festival program or Penn Square Banko board game. That would be great TV.
11/21/2011 Update: It looks like Amanda Taylor did an investigative Consumer Watch report on Livingston and her company back in June 2009! Here’s the link: