“Hey Derek. I heard you closed the business. 'Yes, we did',” says Derek Watford.
Derek Watford, co-owner of American Cargo Trailers Inc., says his company's closing has come up during his campaign for Bleckley County Commissioner.
“The risk was just outweighing the reward,” says Watford. Watford says that's what led to closing his doors.
“When it came to that last week of July is when we had to sit down and look at the hard facts and address the issues and come up with a solution,” says Watford.
Watford says when they closed August 1st, 94 percent of their customers received the trailers they ordered, but he says 6 percent had problems. He told us that is fewer than 50 people.
“You know they're frustrated, and I get it,” says Watford.
One person in that six percent, Scott Pello of Oswego County, New York, filed a New York State police report on August 4th of this year. He says he is owed $10,000 and, "My attempts to either receive the trailer or get my money back have been negative."
“They’re going to have some options there. I really don’t know what options they’re working out right now, but they’re going through the proper channels,” says Watford. Watford says he and his legal team are trying to make things right.
“Let them know what to expect from here, and what they can do,” says Watford.
Watford could not say whether that meant the customers would get their money back. We asked Kelvin Collins, CEO of the Better Business Bureau in central Georgia, what people should do in situations like this.
“Contact credit card company first. Talk with the business contact. Then find out what plan they've put in place. If it's a plan you can’t work with, you probably want to look at small claims court,” says Collins.
We spoke to Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney, Tim Vaughn, and investigator Allen Watson of the Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office. Both told us that they are investigating American Cargo Trailers after getting complaints. Collins says that is typical.
“Letter, emails, things like that to be able to determine when was it decided, 'OK, we’re going out of business,' and sales stopped,” says Collins.
Watford says he is not under investigation and the company stopped taking payments August 1, the same day they closed.
“Nobody has done anything to be under investigation,” says Watford.
Watford says he has been upfront and honest and blames his political opponents for spreading stories about the business.
“Because the opposition has chosen to stoop to a level to try and sling mud at us. That's what the issue is,” says Watford.
Bleckley County has a single-commissioner form of government. We called the incumbent, Bob Brockman, and he said, "I don't know anything about the trailer company,” and he declined further comment.
Mary Grace Shaw, 13WMAZ