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I-Team: Boston Interior Designer Who Owes Customer Money Skips Court Date To Walk Dogs

BOSTON (CBS) - Suzanne Bilello hopped on a train and traveled to Boston on Thursday to sit in a Charlestown courtroom.

The New York City resident expected to face the owner of an interior design business for her small claims case.

In late 2014, Bilello paid more than $8,000 to Amanda Zettel and her Homemade Design Corporation for furniture.

But nearly two years later, the sofa and chairs still haven't arrived. And neither has a refund.

"This has been really disheartening and really horrible," Bilello said. "It's a huge deal! It's a tremendous amount of money. And I've had an empty living room all this time as well."

Suzanne Bilello
Suzanne Bilello in Charlestown courtroom (WBZ-TV)

As the I-Team first reported in November, Bilello is not alone.

Brian Levenson, a homeowner in suburban Dallas, also paid thousands of dollars for furniture that never arrived.

Other customers reported similar stories on consumer sites like Angie's List, or filed complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

"When I heard there were other clients, I wondered what happened to all the money? Where did it go?" Bilello said.

Zettel never provided the I-Team with an explanation about what happened to the cash customers had paid for the home merchandise. But at the time, she promised people would receive refunds.

Amanda Zettel
Amanda Zettel (Image from Homemade Design website)

Months later, Bilello decided she had little choice but to pursue legal action.

The interior designer did not appear for her small claims hearing on Thursday, but Bilello and the I-Team spotted her walking her dogs a few blocks from the courthouse.

Zettel scurried inside her million-dollar Charlestown home when she spotted the news camera. She refused to open the door when Bilello knocked several times, trying to get an explanation.

Suzanne Bilello
Suzanne Bilello and Ryan Kath knock on Amanda Zettel's door in Charlestown (WBZ-TV)

"I think it shows this is a person who thinks she has a level of impunity that the rest of us are not held accountable to," Bilello said. "What gives her the right to take money from a working, single mother in New York and just not pay it back?"

After the I-Team's original story, Levenson received a refund check for $5,277.

Bilello should find out within a week if she will win a small claims judgement.

State business records with the Massachusetts Secretary of State indicate Homemade Design Corporation's status has been revoked for failure to file annual reports.

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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