A lot of East Texans aren't happy with this past weekend's Family Care Expo in Tyler. Vendors say the turnout wasn't what they were promised. But worse, some folks aren't getting paid. Plus, one woman thought she won a huge prize, but now believes she's a victim of a scheme that was planned well before last weekend.
"A show like East Texas has never seen." That's what the sign said. And mother of two, Sherri Eubanks wanted to earn a little extra money.
Sherri Eubanks recounts a phone call with a friend telling her about a weekend job at the Expo: "I said 'would that be 160 dollars?' And she said, 'Yes, that's what we're all going to get paid.' She said we get paid on Monday, because my son's birthday party is next weekend."
She got a baby sitter, and sold raffle tickets at the Family Care Expo. The raffle was for a boat and a car, and she was encouraged to buy tickets with everyone else. By chance, she won the car.
"They said my name and I was just beyond myself. I didn't know what to do," she says.
The Better Business Bureau's Kay Robinson says, "People thought they had the chance of winning the car and the boat, and nobody had the chance of winning the car and the boat because they hadn't been paid for."
It gets worse.
"No car. No paycheck," Sherri says. Neither she nor her friend have been paid for their weekend of work.
Robinson: "My goodness, he owes so many people in town money."
Kay Robinson is getting the phone calls, but not events promoter Jason Carr and his Total Quest business. He hasn't returned our phone calls or e-mails, and his door is plastered with unpaid invoices -- nearly $500 for valet services, and $3,000 for clowns.
"I understand the clowns didn't get paid. What a crummy deal," Robinson said.
No one answered the door at the business Thursday, nor can anyone get in. The doorknobs have been removed. Carr's company has a poor record with the Better Business Bureau, and Robinson says he bailed on two other conventions out of state.
Sherri says, "It's hard to believe that he put on such a big show, and everyone lost."
Vendors were promised tens of thousands of people, Sherri worked 16 hours, and thought she won a new car.
"I don't see how he [Carr] sleeps at night," Sherri says. She hopes something is done, so no one else is left empty handed.
A side note: two previous conventions planned by Jason Carr's Total Quest company never happened. Those events in Rhode Island and Florida were cancelled because the venues were not paid for in advance. Last weekend's expo was at City of Tyler's Harvey Convention Center. We're told the city did receive all they were owed by Carr.