Local company under fire

By Thomas Garcia

Complaints of non-delivery and loss of money filed against a Tucumcari playground equipment company have been referred to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.

The 130 complaints were originally filed with the Better Business Bureau against Dome Climber, which is owned and operated by Rodney Ward of Tucumcari.

“The complaints were referred to the attorney general’s office because of the high number… and lack of response from the company,” said Gena Coldwell, BBB media relations director.

A spokesman for Attorney General Gary King confirmed Tuesday that an investigation is being conducted.

Phil Sisneros, King’s director of communication, said the Consumer Protection Division is reviewing the complaints.

Consumers claim they paid for the products Ward failed to deliver, in some cases for months. The 130 complaints range from $100 to $500 alleged losses to the consumer.

In each case, customers said they paid in advance for a geodesic dome but didn’t receive delivery.

A geodesic dome is piece of playground equipment shaped like half a sphere, constructed of many triangles or other shapes of differnet sizes.

Ward said Monday that he has had a few setbacks. He said he is still producing the domes and plans to continue selling them.

“Those issues have been resolved,” said Ward. “I had a good summer and sold many domes. But this winter I was unable to keep up with the demand.”

Ward said he had to cancel and refund close to 100 orders that were placed for Christmas.

“It has been a hassle and I am sorry for that,” Ward said. “I am now working with a different strategy.”

Ward said he is building the domes in surplus and will once again be selling them cash on delivery only.

“I want to build a huge surplus of the domes to prevent any further delays or complications,” Ward said.

A toy company located in Albuquerque claims Ward’s actions created hardships for their geodesic dome business.

“He has directly damaged and affected the reputation and profits of Zia Toys,” said Wendell L. Jones, president of Zia Toys Inc.

Zia Toys, has been manufacturing geodesic domes since 2007.

Ward is a former Zia Toys employee and a co-inventor of the hub used in the construction of the domes, said Jones.

“The domes look similar in appearance, but we are not associated with Dome Climbers,” Jones said. “We have received numerous calls in the past year asking if our business was related to Ward’s in any way.”

Jones said one customer, who ordered a dome through Ward’s company, had not received it and was wary of placing an order with Zia Toys.

“She was afraid of losing her money,” Jones said. “She went over every aspect of the purchase, construction, delivery and payment with great detail.”

Jones said he directs people who call to the BBB Web site to compare the two companies.

Currently Zia Toys has an “A” rating while Dome Climbers has an “F” rating. An “F” rating from the BBB means the organization strongly questions the company’s reliability for reasons such as failing to respond to complaints.

Ward continues to build the domes in a section of a former elementary school at South College Street and East Aber Avenue.

“I am going to do this right,” Ward said.