We, and others we've spoken with, have had similar bad experiences with two businesses in Dominica, Stevens Creations and Dragon Doors. Our advice to others is to avoid doing business with either of them. Below, you can read about our experiences with these companies.
We were shopping for a small dresser with mirror and found one in the Stevens Creations showroom. It was an attractive 3-drawer dresser with mirror, and appeared to be well-made. It was on-sale at EC$500, a price considerably below that of any similar dresser in other stores.
It was May 2005, and we were preparing to leave Dominica the next day, and did not have $500 with us. So, we agreed with Stevens Creations that we could put $50 down and have the dresser on layaway. We also tod them that we would send a check for the balance of $450 to our property manager in Dominica as soon as we had returned to the U.S. We did this because Stevens Creations does not take credit cards. We also let Stevens Creations know that we'd be shipping a barrel of goods to Dominica in the summer, and that our property manager would bring the payment balance to Stevens Creations when she came to Roseau to fetch our barrel, which would arrive in July or August.
Further, we informed Stevens Creations that we would be returning to Dominica in December 2005. It should be noted that there's a sign painted on the wall at Stevens Creations saying "Your factory order will be ready in a minimum of 90 days". Also, that Stevens Creations informed us that they made six of our model of dresser at a time on a regular basis at the Stevens Creations factory in Roseau. They told me that they did not deliver and we'd have to transport our dresser ourselves, but they told my wife Ruth that they do deliver, and for no charge.
When our property manager called Stevens Creations in August to tell them that our barrel had arrived, Stevens Creations replied that our dresser was ready to be picked up. But in September, when our property manager went to Roseau to fetch it, Stevens Creations said that they'd mistakenly sold the mirror from it. So, our property manager left another deposit payment of $350 with Stevens Creations and informed Stevens Creations that they would make arrangements to take the dresser and mirror and pay the $100 balance as soon as both were ready. Our property manager then repeatedly contacted Stevens Creations about every week until December, but every time Stevens Creations replied that the mirror was not available - and then in December that they'd "mistakenly" sold the dresser!
When we arrived in December, we went to Stevens Creations just before Christmas and we were told that they'd deliver it to us on January 2. We asked them if they were sure about that date, because January 1, 2006 was a Sunday, and most businesses would be taking Monday, January 2 as a holiday. They replied that January 2 would be the delivery date. We wasted a day on January 2 waiting. Stevens Creations did not deliver, nor did they call, nor did they return calls.
We should point out that the Stevens Creations phone number on its business card had been disconnected. Stevens Creations also had a cell phone number, but it could not be reached. But Stevens Creations' business card also had the name of Elvis Stevens, Manager, with his cell phone number. He would answer that and return calls (up until we became adamant about receiving our goods or money, that is), and he gave us a cell phone number for the woman store clerk - but that phone number always appeared to be unreachable. We later found that both the clerk and Elvis Stevens appear to screen their cell phone calls, accepting calls from each other, but not from others whom they wish to avoid.
Anyhow, when we phoned Elvis Stevens on Tuesday, January 3 he told us that the January 2 delivery promise had been a "mistake" and that our dresser and mirror would "definitely" be delivered on Thursday, January 5. We spent that day waiting fruitlessly for delivery or a call as well.
But we had to make another 2-hour trip to Roseau on the following Monday, January 9. So, when we were in Roseau, we stopped at Stevens Creations and asked when our dresser and mirror would be delivered. (Note that they did not offer to let us pick them up at their factory.) Stevens Creations said that their truck would "leave Roseau with our dresser and mirror at 11:00 AM the next day, and that we'd have them by 1:00 PM because their truck was making no other stops, either coming or going". Again, we wasted a day waiting in vain, without either delivery or call, and were unable to contact Stevens Creations at the end of the day. But we left a voice message for Mr. Stevens that we would come to Roseau and remand a refund or our goods on the spot and would proceed to Police headquarters to make a complaint abut fraud if we did not receive one or the other. Mr. Stevens neve returned our call.
We had to make an unnecessary 4-hour round trip to Roseau on Friday, January 13. When we reached Stevens Creations we were informed that the dresser and mirror were at the factory but that the factory was closed (at 10 o'clock in the morning!), but that we could have them at 1:00 PM if we would just wait. The clerk also called Mr. Stevens, who we were told was at the bank and also could not appear until 1:00 PM because he "had a meeting to go to after his banking", and that there was no money in the store to give us. That left us no choice except to proceed to the police.
We returned from Police HQ with Constable James, who had written down our relation of the facts and noted our receipts and that our property manager could be phoned at home or work to support us. At Stevens Creations, the clerk repeated what she had told us that day, and told the constable a couple of pointless small lies. Constable James told the clerk that he believed us, and even if he did not, that Stevens Creations had no business selling something we'd put a layaway deposit on, and that even if Stevens Creations had made that mistake, Stevens Creations would have had plenty of time (more than the 90 days noted in its signage) from August to late December to have made another dresser and mirror to have ready for us. Ultimately, Stevens Creations, after being advised by Constable James that we were entitled to our goods or a refund on the spot, said that such could be arranged by noon at the earliest.
Accordingly, it was agreed that we and the constable would all meet at Stevens Creations at noon (it being 10:30 AM then). When we returned at noon, the clerk at Stevens Creations informed us that she had only $350 (not the $400 owed to us) available, and that she had been unable in the interim to contact Elvis Stevens (despite having said that she knew where his meeting was to be held, and despite him having a working cell phone and also being in Roseau). And, note that she did not say that the factory was open then with our goods, either, or that they made six dressers at a time.
We accepted the $350 as a partial refund, with the balance due. The clerk said, and the constable wrote down, that we would have a check for the $50 balance waiting for us when we return to Dominica in June 2006. We warned Stevens Creations that we would return with the police again and even go to court (asking also for compensation for our trips) if necessary if the check was not waiting for us. This was written in January 2006.
This is a July 2006 update. Stevens did not mail us a $50 refund check. Elvis Stevens had called our property manager during our absence to claim that it was all a mistake and that his clerk was attempting to cheat us without his knowing. And, that he was having her charged with a crime. Clearly that is untrue, because we had spoken with him numerous times. We went to Roseau in June 2006 and spoke with his his new clerk, who pointed Stevens out to us in the store. We had never actually met him before. We demanded our $50 and he at first stalled by asking us to return and speak to the police about how his former clerk had been stealing from his customers (apparently, only the white customers!) without his knowledge. We told him that we advised him to just pay us our $50 and let us go away and never hear from us again, because we'd only tell the police the story above (I had a printout with me) and it would implicate him. He reluctantly paid us, and we departed.
Dragon Doors are manufactured just outside Roseau, near the deep-water port. They are made of glass and vinyl and will not rust. However, the windows tend to come apart with use. The windows also have play in them even when they're locked. Also, it is impossible to get more keys than the two that come with each door (the key blanks come only from China, the company doesn't respond to e-mail, nobody has the blanks, not even in Chinatowns in the largest U.S. cities), and Dragon will try to demand you buy new locks if you want additional keys (which begs the question why they can't simply make you more keys).
Dragon will promise to come and repair the defective windows, but in our experience they simply break every promise that they make.
In June 2006 we discovered another problem with Dragon doors. Although they don't rot, rust or mildew because they're made of vinyl, they are hollow. And, they're not sealed well. So, hard rain fills in the door and the accumulated rainwater from inside the door then leaks out onto the floor inside the house.