PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Action News Troubleshooters began investigating a business that sells gravestones after being contacted by a grieving daughter.
"This is the place where my mom was buried and it's absolutely empty," said Sofia Blekher of Northeast Philadelphia.
Blekher's beloved mother passed away on January 18, 2020. In March of that year, Blekher paid All American Monuments a deposit of $1,334 for a headstone and then an additional $650.
"I feel such a guilt that I still don't have this monument," said Blekher.
The contract says "most monuments take six to eight months to complete. We cannot guarantee any exact dates or deadlines."
When Blekher inquired about the status later, the owner of All American Monuments, Nancy Jelassi, emailed her that it would be done in July 2022.
But she still received nothing.
"My mother lives in a grave for three years like some kind of an animal or unknown soul without the stone," said Blekher.
When the Troubleshooters went to All American Monuments, it was closed, but we did talk to Nancy Jelassi by phone.
"I thought that the doctor was gonna give me a chance to come back to work on the 28th and I still don't have the clearance," Jelassi said.
She also blames COVID and supply chain issues.
"I have a company that I order from. That company kept giving me the runaround," Jelassi said.
The Troubleshooters called that company and it claims Jelassi never paid for Blekher's headstone and owes the business more than $50,000.
Other consumers are also reporting problems with All American Monuments.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office says 21 consumers have filed complaints and there is at least one judgment against Jelassi.
"Makes me feel angry, sad," said Blekher.
Meanwhile, Jelassi has said she will send Blekher a full refund.
"I can mail it out tomorrow or Saturday," she said.
"Monument companies, individual companies, are virtually unregulated. They're just like any other business," said Herb Weisbaum, contributing editor to Consumer.org. "You need to be proactive on the front end."
Weisbaum advises consumers to go to a company with a brick-and-mortar location that can show you the stones it has and the work that it's doing. If someone shows up on your doorstep to sell you a monument, that should be a red flag. Also, never give more than 1/3 up front as a deposit. And do your research.
"How long have they been in business? A good monument company has probably been around for a while. And check reviews," he said.
And if you have had a negative experience with a company, make sure you alert authorities and the Troubleshooters.
"Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I hope this Nancy Schneider Jelassi will finally be held responsible for all wrongdoing to me," said Blekher.
As of Thursday, she is still waiting for that check.
Jelassi's attorney wrote to us that his client "did not engage in any misconduct."