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eBay Vendor Accused of Defrauding Antiques Dealers

You might not associate the notorious Quran-burning Rev. Terry Jones with eBay, but a Florida newspaper made the connection 4 years ago, pointing out that he operated an eBay business called TS and Company out of the same address as the church, calling it “a for-profit, limited-liability corporation that sells furniture through eBay.”

Now the pastor is receiving attention yet again as his eBay-focused furniture-moving company, TSC Moving, is accused of collecting money and failing to deliver the furniture as promised.

Website Brandenton.com said antique dealers from across the country were sharing their stories of not being able to get answers from the Rev. Terry Jones on whether they will ever get their possessions back.

An EcommerceBytes reader said TSC Moving had been running a special promotion during the holidays (20% off their services) and believes they would have raised a lot of cash, since customers pay for orders when they are placed. “The messes created for both sellers and buyers could certainly involve tens of thousands of online transactions (and perhaps more) just in recent months alone.”

Some sellers had displayed a widget on their eBay Stores allowing shoppers to get a quote from TSC Moving to determine how much it would cost them to ship the item from the seller to their location. One such seller feels she unknowingly let her customers down by promoting the company.

The TSC Moving website currently displays a message stating it is insolvent and unable to continue doing business. It states customers can pick up their items in Delaware or Atlanta on certain dates. “Proper identification and paperwork will be required to receive any items.”

Prior to the insolvency message, the website did not disclose a relationship with Rev. Jones or his church. The company had described on its website that it had been one of the largest sellers of Mid Century Modern and Design Furniture on eBay.

“In 2008 we started to increase the deliveries we made ourselves out of frustration over the limitations and difficulties of the shippers on the market. Either the prices were prohibiting profitable sales, or the shippers unreliability damaged our customer relationships or numerous damages were hard to make up for. In no time we found out many sellers of vintage and design furniture went through the same ordeal and after a short while TSC MOVING was growing so well that we stopped the selling altogether.”

On its FAQs page in answer to the question, “If the items are prepacked, does TSC MOVING still insure them,” the company stated, “Yes, we provide full coverage in the event of destruction or loss. If the box or container does not show any signs of damage on the outside smaller damages inside like a broken piece of glass or cracks and scratches will not be covered, though. This is because our teams had no opportunity to inspect the item before picking it up.”

In 2010, TaxGirl blogger had written about the pastor and his eBay business. “Former church members have accused Jones and his wife of using “volunteer” labor from the church to support his eBay furniture sales company. According to the Gainesville Sun, Jones’ company, TS and Company, operates out of the church’s building.” And she noted that a related venture, TSC Moving Company, had the same address and phone number as the church’s address.

“If it feels like a little improper commingling, you’re right. In fact, as a result of all of this messy “for profit” nonsense, Dove has lost part of its tax-exempt status for local purposes,” she wrote.

In 2011, the Telegraph newspaper said Jones’s daughter called the church a cult and accused it of financial and workplace abuse. “Dove World Outreach is funded by the pastor’s furniture firm, TS & Company, which buys vintage items from Europe and sells them in the US,” the article stated. “The employees are members of the church, who are understood to work for no wages and live rent-free in run-down properties owned by the pastor and his wife.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.