Frustrated customers of a Bushwick-based startup selling real-time personal subway countdown clocks are turning to the state attorney general’s office for help amid growing fears that the company has closed up shop without fulfilling orders.
Once regularly active on social media, NYC Train Sign has not posted to any of its branded accounts since the end of March. The company’s website was recently shut down, and several customers claim NYC Train Sign has stopped responding to requests for order updates.
“The last thing I heard from them was on April 6,” said Sean R. Douty, referring to a mass email that went out to customers warning of another six-month delivery delay.
NYC Train Sign derails, leaving customers empty-handedThe founder of NYC Train Sign said the company is not closing and will issue refunds to everyone who requests one.
The email, sent by co-founder Timothy Woo, also suggested customers who were unhappy with the wait could dispute the charge with their credit card or bank, a move that sparked even more concern.
“It just became really clear that they didn’t have any money,” Douty said, adding that he took the company’s advice and disputed the charge with his bank.
At first, Douty said he was issued a refund but then he got a follow-up call from his bank in early May informing him NYC Train Sign disputed the charge-back and told his bank the product was delivered.
“It was straight up shocking to me,” he said, adding he never received a train sign, a shipping notice or a tracking number.
The 34-year-old Carroll Gardens resident, who purchased a train sign for $230.79 on Black Friday as a Christmas gift for his wife, is among a growing group of customers who say they’re filing complaints with acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office out of desperation.
Ed Doherty Jr., 38, of Washington Heights, said he purchased a beta test sign in December for about $108 but has since disputed the charge and filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office due to a lack of communication.
“The website being down really put me over the edge,” he added. “I don’t think that this was meant to be malicious. I think they thought they had a great idea with the signs and got way in over their heads.”
A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said they have received a number of consumer complaints against NYC Train Sign and are looking into them.
Ryan Somerfield, a 30-year-old resident of Boston and chief operating officer of the Association of Independents in Radio, said he also filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office after waiting roughly six months for a sign he purchased for his employees.
“I ordered it for the organization because a lot of employees here take the red line,” he explained. “The staff is super bummed at the office. They’ve been waiting for this since January.”
Woo, who did not return several requests for comment on the company’s current status, told amNewYork in April that he intended to issue refunds to customers who requested them and fill the orders that were left.
Blaming poor business organization and an inability to keep up with a sharp influx in purchases since launching in August 2017, Woo had also claimed the company was not closing up shop despite a photo posted to its Facebook page showing an empty NYC Train Sign office in Bushwick.
Somerfield said he was willing to wait another few months for the sign to be delivered, but the photo of the empty office was a tipping point for him.
“That was the final straw: coming to find out that they were closing down operations and not even hearing it from them but through a Facebook group,” he said.
Douty, Somerfield and Doherty are not alone in seeking accountability from NYC Train Sign. Dozens of people have taken to social media to demand information from the company and several comments left on NYC Train Sign’s Facebook page include a link to the state attorney general’s consumer complaints form.
“The way things have been going, I don’t expect to see much,” Douty added.
It’s unclear exactly how many customers are still waiting for signs. In early April, Woo said he could not provide a specific number of outstanding orders.