Woman upset with results after spending $15K to turn dinnerware dream into reality

CHARLOTTE — Marlene Belgrove and her late husband dreamed of making and selling a dinnerware set with an African motif.

She says they pursued it but when her husband died, she put it off. Belgrove says she revived the idea a few years later.

She says she hired a company, Davison, to help. Davison’s website boasts, “A better way to invent.”

“It was really encouraging,” she said.

Belgrove paid Davison more than $15,000.

She admits the company did a lot of work, like creating a detailed plan and video. But for $15,000, she didn’t feel like that was enough. She thought Davison could have done more to convince someone -- anyone -- to manufacture her dinnerware and sell it.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke asked Belgrove, “Are you disappointed, angry, sad, how do you feel?”

Belgrove responded, “All of the above.”

Davison’s lawyer emailed Stoogenke saying Belgrove signed three contracts with the company and that in all of them, she acknowledged she didn’t expect Davison to actually create her “consumer product,” only to “approach companies” on her behalf.

The lawyer says Davison did that. He says it “contacted 34 companies ... to find a licensee for her product,” but “none of the companies” were interested.

The lawyer went on to say that Davison treated Belgrove “fairly and in conformity with the ... contracts.”

Belgrove says she followed up but got the runaround. Davison’s lawyer says he has no record of that.

Davison has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, despite more than 70 complaints in the last three years. The BBB says it’s because the company has been around for more than 30 years, has been responsive to complaints, and does a lot of business -- so, proportionally, 70 complaints is low.

The head of Charlotte’s BBB, Tom Bartholomy, acknowledged in an email to Stoogenke that when someone has an invention they’re passionate about, “it becomes an emotional transaction as much as a legal one.”

If you want to hire someone to help with your invention:

- Make sure you read the contract very carefully. You want to know exactly what you’re paying for.

- Shop around until you find someone as passionate about your vision as you are.

- In Belgrove’s case, contractually, she still owns her idea. Davison does not. So, she’s still free to pursue it on her own. You may want to make sure you leave yourself the same option.

Indeed offers more advice on turning a business idea into reality here.

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