Tellico Village residents wonder where restaurant coupon books are
DON DARE -6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator
TELLICO VILLAGE (WATE) - With so many restaurants in the Knoxville area, for years many people have enjoyed the popular Knoxville Lifestyle magazine that offers discounts to restaurants.
Many are now asking, where are their books? A group from Tellico Village contacted 6 On Your Side because the books were paid for last March.
The Knoxville Lifestyle magazine gives you the opportunity to taste dishes from a variety of restaurants at a discounted price.
The theory is you eat there once and if you like it, you'll return.
Civic groups and churches buy the books in bulk and sell them to raise money. That's what caught our attention when a group from Lenoir City contacted us.
"Oh, it was wonderful. When it first started, we would sell over a hundred books," said Marianne Hartman.
She is talking about a church fundraiser. A group from Saint Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City purchased 50 coupon books from Knoxville Lifestyle offering discounts to local restaurants.
The receipt from her church shows Lifestyle received $1,750. She says her church fundraiser anticipated money in return.
"He promised me that I would get the $500," said Hartman. "I have never gotten it,"
Seven people in Tellico Village pre-ordered their books last winter. At $35 dollars per Lifestyle book, all agreed that they had enjoyed visiting the restaurants over the years.
"Because we don't eat out a lot, it was a privilege for me to just go use our Lifestyle card," said Euleta Jeffrey.
However, the Lifestyle books everyone here bought 10 months ago never arrived.
"I looked at my own records and found out that I paid for it in March of 2013. The more I thought about it, I thought, this is wrong. We paid for this book. We still have gotten nothing," said Sylvia Liebbe.
Rosie Ratcliffe says last summer she contacted the book's publisher and owner Dennis Downs.
"'It's coming. I've got some good stuff coming in, you have got to give me a chance.' I said, 'Okay, I'll wait. I'm patient,'" said Ratcliffe, describing her conversation with Downs.
Karen Brown showed us an email she received from Downs in November, claiming the books would be released soon.
"The first time I emailed him, he said they'll be out in September. Then September passed and he said they'd be out in October," said Brown.
"The $35 is not going to break anybody, but to keep people hanging on for this length of time, let us know. Either we are going to get the books or not," said Chuck Giambrone.
6 On Your Side discovered the headquarters for Knoxville Lifestyle moved out of its former Kingston Pike office complex location more than a year ago. Apparently, no new office has been set up and the phone's disconnected.
"When somebody messes with me or an organization I'm involved in or a community, especially when you are dealing with seniors, we are pretty lethal because we have a lot of time and I don't like to get messed with," said Liebbe.
6 On Your Side sent an email to Downs last week and finally heard from him five days later. He declined an on-camera interview.
Downs apologized saying while the latest publication is late, he's at the mercy of decision makers, the restaurants and advertisers.
Downs lamented that every day the books aren't out is costing him additional money and time. He said, however, the book is 95 percent finished and he's waiting for the last bit to be completed.
Downs says he expects to hear some positive news within two to two and a half weeks.
"There has to be hundreds of people like us in seven or eight counties around Knox County," said Brown.
The church fundraiser at St. Thomas the Apostle raised more than $1,700 last year. Marianne Hartman says it's been a bust for them, but not for the magazine publisher.
"See he's had this money for all that time," Hartman said. "We didn't, so we lost interest that we would have gotten. Plus, we didn't get what he promised.
Dennis Downs said he "works hard" to get his customers "a lot of value" for his Lifestyle books. During his conversation he said several times that the books do not come out at any specific time. However, he is "actively working" to get the current book published and in the hands of present customers and future ones.
There are many people counting on his promise because they enjoy the books.