If you have not first read part I of this blog, please read part I before continuing...
After learning more about the story, I agreed to represent the tenants who had been placed by Showhomes into the home of a person that never contracted with show homes and did not want the tenants there. My first action was to call the Showhomes office in Dallas. I really thought that because it was a misunderstanding and an obvious mistake by Showhomes in Dallas that we could simply discuss the problem, cancel my clients' contract as tenants for Showhomes, get their money returned with a little extra to help find a new place and everybody could walk away laughing about the incident.
To my shock the woman in charge of the Dallas franchise immediately started denying any wrongdoing and started accusing me of lying and misunderstanding the situation. She then (and please don't ever do this to any lawyer who is calling you on behalf of clients with a potential claim against you) began to instruct me as to the law that would apply in this scenario. She did a wonderful job of not only offending me, but also managed to call my clients liars, cheats and thieves and then hung up on me in the middle of my attempt to resolve the dispute without even listening to my demands.
After several hours and a few dozen Valium I was able to calm down enough to convince myself that walking straight to the courthouse and filing a lawsuit against this woman and her company might not be in the best interest of my clients. Get this, my clients are getting married in just two weeks. Imagine how they must feel after signing this contract with Showhomes in Dallas and then getting placed into a home illegally by breaking in and changing the locks. As if that were not enough, the company that caused the problem would not simply apologize and try to get them in another place to live, but instead were running around telling every party involved a different story. Thus I decided that I would try to call the corporate headquarters of Showhomes to see if there was a more reasonable person I could talk to, and of course I spoke with a wonderful person in Alabama who apologized for the mix-up and gave me the contact information to one of the directors. Thus please do not hold the actions of the one franchise in Dallas against Showhomes businesses in other locales.
It gets even better. I got involved because the listing agent who was listing the house Showhomes broke into is a friend of mine. After realizing that she could not get a straight answer from Showhomes she went to talk with the would-be tenants (my clients) and gave them my name and number to call. Showhomes did not know of my friendship with the listing agent. This became obvious when five minutes after the Showhomes officer hung up on me, my friend the listing agent called laughing telling me that a Showhomes agent had just called her and literally BEGGED her to sign a new contract with Showhomes for no cost and with perks for her. Apparently they realized after hanging up with me that they might be in a precarious situation and attempted to cover their tracks by this end run. Of course, because the listing agent told me about their attempt, all it did was provide us with further laughs as to their idiocy and lack of any sense of moral or ethical conduct.
As of the time of writing this blog, Showhomes in Dallas has yet to apologize to my clients, has not attempted to contact me or respond to their demands (further invitiing a potential lawsuit) and has been caught in numerous lies and misrepresentations possibly rising to the level of fraud. They even tried to evict them from this house that they stuck them in illegally, even though they have no legal right to do anything in regards to this property. The director of their corporate offices seemed very nice and reasonable, and has agreed to help if possible. Unfortunately Showhomes in Dallas is an independent franchise, but he might be able to talk some sense into the officer of the Dallas franchise. My clients are still gettiing married in two weeks and I am in the process of negotiating a lease with the legal homeowner or finding them another place to live. Hopefully the Dallas Showhomes office will come to their senses, stop trying to cover up their mistake and help this young couple out. If they don't, I wouldn't use their services in Dallas. But then, if they make me, they might be facing a fairly hefty and easy to prove lawsuit.