A Madera auction company that claims to specialize in everything is nowhere to be found. The new business in town appears to be the Grinch that stole Christmas from dozens of customers.
West Coast Public Auction moved to Madera at the start of summer. It relocated from Tennessee. Five months later it looks like West Coast skipped town, owing a lot of people money.
West Coast sold a tractor for Benjamin Baca at its November auction. Since then he's gotten the run around. "But she never pay me. She says come back Friday. Last Friday I come in here. She no pay me. Now she says Monday. I show you paper she's waiting to pay me Saturday. But she already left."
Baca says the owners, Rod and Tina Settles owe him $5,400. Money he was counting on to buy Christmas presents. The business in northwest Madera was nearly empty when we dropped by late Thursday.
Only a boat and trailer sit in the back parking lot along with a piece of heavy machinery. Ken Knoske is out $1,600 for auction items sold in November. "Now I found that she took off in the middle of the night with her stuff in a trailer. Everybody got...it's called seller beware instead of buyer beware."
Knoske wanted to file a report with Madera Police but was told his case and others are civil matters. Knoske needs the money. "I was gonna pay some bills with it that are overdue cause I was diagnosed with cancer in June, and I'm trying to get through all of that cause I don't work anymore. I try to make a little extra money by selling things."
West Coast Public Auction was an accredited business according to the Better Business Bureau back in June. Now the people who it owes money feel cheated. "It's just I want my tractor back or my money. But I need to find this lady," said Benjamin Baca. "It's not right you know?"
The two customers who have not been paid aren't ready to throw in the towel. They are determined to track down the owner and they say the fight is far from over.
Rod Settles has been in the public auction business for 27 years.
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