Waterbury, Conn. (WTNH) - A Waterbury businesswoman is fighting web retailer Amazon.com for thousands of dollars that she says the company owes her.
The florist says her business is booming, but she hasn't seen much of the money because Amazon is withholding payment.
Susan Occhino is the Dutch Bulb Lady. She grew up in Holland, surrounded by the beautiful flowers, and has now brought her knowledge and expertise to the U.S.
Occhino runs her small business out of her home in Waterbury, but gets most of her customers through internet sites. When she signed on to Amazon six weeks ago the orders started rolling in.
"It was immediately a grand success," said Occhino, "it was an overnight success."
She undercuts the competition by sometimes just pennies, but the quality is good. Occhino always ships her flowers in water and she went from one order a day to around 100 every day.
To florists Valentine's is everything, but Occhino said her overnight success backfired, at least with Amazon.
"They said your account is currently under review because you're very new, you have no feedback and we're gonna hold the money up to 90 days," Occhino said.
Occhino said she had made over $10,000 in just five days but "they said that they were going to give me $1,100 on Tuesday and they only dispersed $45.02.
She told them she couldn't afford the supplies, but they just gave her the runaround. Since it's Valentine's she shipped out what she could, hundreds of orders, last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but had to drain her bank account to do it.
"It's a disaster," said Occhino, "it's a great disaster. It is income for me and my family."
Her products are still on their page, Amazon is still taking orders and their commission money, but now her account's been frozen. She can't even log on and she can't fill the new orders coming in.
Occhino said this is ruining her reputation and she hasn't slept in days. The business she worked so hard to build is crumbling around her, all because she was too successful.
"I'm scared, I'm actually scared," Occhino said. "I laid out so much money and I don't know if I'm going to get any money in return back."
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