Attorney General settles with Apropos Prom & Bridal 

GUILDERLAND — A story that the Altamont Enterprise broke in 2017 reached a resolution today, with an announcement by the state attorney general’s office of a settlement with Sindi Saita and her shop, Apropos Prom & Bridal, requiring Saita to improve her business practices and refund customers. 

Saita remains a member of Guilderland’s zoning board of appeals, a post to which she was appointed in 2014.

Asked about a letter to the Enterprise editor this week arguing that Saita should be removed from the zoning board, Thomas Remmert, who chairs the zoning board, said, “I don’t have any comment about that at all. She was appointed by the town board. That’s up to them.” 

Supervisor Peter Barber said that Saita’s term runs through Dec. 31, 2020 and that her current annual pay for her work on the board is $5,625.84. He declined to answer whether her zoning-board pay was ever garnished to pay creditors, or whether she should be removed. 

Documentation from the attorney general’s office shows 16 customers due a total of nearly $5,000.

The attorney general’s office will also be accepting any new claims from other Apropos customers for 90 days. 

At the time of the original Enterprise article, Apropos was in Guilderland, at 1801 Western Ave. Later that year, the shop was evicted by then-landlord Kenneth J. Raymond Jr. for non-payment of rent, and Saita moved her store to 897 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham.

The attorney general’s office lists 16 customers who are to receive refunds under the “assurance of discontinuance” the office worked out with Saita, said a department spokesman. 

If there are any additional customers “who were subject to Apropos’s behavior,” the spokesman continued, the office would encourage them to come forward and make a complaint, which will then be decided by the office. He added, “Eligible consumers will be entitled to restitution.” 

Reached at her Latham store, Saita said she wants to move forward in a positive way and asked The Enterprise to write the story in a positive light.

“Everybody’s going to get paid that ever had a complaint, and good will is important. She’s trying to move forward and put this behind her,” said Saita’s attorney, Deborah H. Sheehan of Albany. 

“Some of them, they had the dress, they wore the dress, but they weren’t happy, so she’s happy to give them their money back,” Sheehan added. 

Mary Chase of Schenectady said this week that she had been reimbursed the cost of replacement bridesmaid dresses for her daughter’s wedding hurriedly bought from another local shop when dresses ordered seven months in advance from Apropos failed to arrive. She received this after sending a letter to Apropos from a law firm, she said. 

“It was the talk of the wedding, of course,” said Chase this week of the conflicts with Apropos. “Everyone was glad to see that we didn’t have to walk down the aisle in any old dress.” 

Saita is “old-school” and never had a computer system before, but is implementing one now, said Sheehan, the lawyer. 

Sheehan added, “She’s been in business for over 30 years. This was a bump.” 

The AG’s findings 

The attorney general’s office entered into the agreement “in lieu of commencing a statutory proceeding for violations” of an executive law violation for “fraudulent or illegal acts” and a general business law violation for “deceptive acts and processes unlawful.” 

The office described its findings in the case this way in the assurance of discontinuance: 

— Since about January 2018, Saita has operated the store by herself, without employees; 

— Until 2017, most of the store’s business consisted of “special order” dresses requiring a deposit, usually half of the price; Saita would then order the dress. When a dress required alterations, Saita or a seamstress would do it, for an additional fee after the dress came into the store and the customer had a fitting; 

— Saita would give customers a hand-written slip for the special order, stating the current date, customer name, amount of deposit paid, and balance due. It would usually specify the type of dress, such as “bridesmaid,” but not the manufacturer, model number, color, or size. It did not say when Saita expected to receive it. Saita would typically advise the customer orally of when it was expected and promise to call when it came in; 

— The attorney general’s office received a number of complaints between 2016 and 2017 and spoke with other customers who described experiences similar to the complaints; 

— Many complainants said Saita failed to provide dresses in a timely way. Many said the dress didn’t arrive within the estimated time frame, and that, when they called to ask about it, they got a busy signal or the phone rang continuously with no answer or voicemail. If they did reach someone, they would get a vague answer such as that the dress would “be in soon” or was “on its way,” or an excuse from Saita such as “the lace had to be ordered from China” or “the shipment was delayed due to a snowstorm”; 

— As the date of the events drew near and dresses did not appear, some customers were forced to purchase a different gown elsewhere. Saita then repeatedly refused to return their deposits, customers alleged; 

— Some customers said the dresses they got did not seem to be new or special-ordered, but rather floor-model dresses, often with flaws that the customer remembered from the model at the store such as ripped seams or imperfect beading. They were often significantly too large or small. Former employees have told the attorney general’s office that sometimes Saita passed off floor models to consumers as special-order dresses; 

— Saita did not use electronic record-keeping methods, which caused delays in placing orders and confusion about tracking them; and 

— Saita has resolved some customers’ complaints with refunds, and in other cases, consumers have complained to credit-card companies and been able to get charges reversed. 


According to the assurance of discontinuance, Saita will be required to: 

— Provide customers with a receipt describing the dress ordered, including manufacturer, size, color and style, price, amount of deposit and balance due, date of event, and date by which Saita expects to receive the dress from the manufacturer; 

— Place the order in a timely way; 

— Upon learning a dress is no longer available from the manufacturer, contact the customer within two business days and give her the option of a full refund; 

— Upon learning that a dress will not arrive within a week of the stated delivery date, contact the customer within two days to advise her of the new estimated arrival date; 

— If a revised arrival date is more than three weeks after the original delivery date on the sales slip and also less than four weeks before the date of the event stated on the sales slip, Saita will give the customer the option of a full refund, which must be provided no more than 48 hours after a customer request; 

— Within six months, implement a computer system to record and track the details about all orders; and 

— Use a telephone system that allows customers to leave messages and respond to those messages or to any emails within two days. 

The attorney general’s office is requiring that Saita pay it a total of $9,778.58 “in penalties, costs, and restitution,” plus fees of about $2,000, over time, with $4,778.58 of that amount to be used for restitution.

Any default in meeting the agreed-upon conditions is a violation and may cause the office to begin a civil action, the assurance of discontinuance says. 

Other debts 

Saita’s former landlord, Raymond, received a judgment against her in county court two years ago for more than $15,000 in unpaid rent but said this week that he has yet to receive any payment from her. 

“I think rather than refunding the money, she should be put in jail,” said Raymond this week, because of “all the hurt she inflicted on everybody else.” 

Raymond added, “It’s just the way she does business, the way she treats people. It’s just sad.” 

Seamstress Rosa DeLuca, originally from Italy, worked for several years for Apropos doing alterations and custom work at her home in the spring, during prom season, when Saita’s shop is busiest. 

DeLuca said that she was always paid very occasionally, and always much less than she was actually owed, but she continued to work for Saita in good faith because their families had been friends for many years, DeLuca said. 

DeLuca asked Saita for $7,600 in back payments in August 2016. She was asked to lower her per-dress price from the agreed-upon $30 to $25, which she did, DeLuca said, and she was then paid $1,000 on the spot, with a promise to pay the rest in $1,000 installments each month. She never received any payments after that first one, she said. 

DeLuca’s daughter, Maria Mastrocinque, now estimates that Saita owes her mother “over $5,000.” 

They had had a court-ordered agreement, DeLuca said, that Saita would give DeLuca some dresses to sell, on the understanding that the amount of any sales would be deducted from the amount Saita owed. 

“She was able to sell only two, which still leaves Sindi owing my mom a substantial amount of money,” Mastrocinque said. 

Mastrocinque said that she would contact the attorney general’s office and also look into bringing Saita to court again. 

Saita has a trail of creditors awaiting payment, according to Albany County online records. These include the Internal Revenue Service, which issued a federal tax lien in December 2017 for more than $61,000; bridal designer the House of Wu, which is due $9,444.82; Barclays Bank, which is awaiting payment of a credit-card debt of over $5,000; Midland Funding for about $12,000 overdrawn since last spring on a bank account; and the Weatherfield Park Phase 1 homeowner’s association, which has a lien on dues and interest of more than $600. 

Apropos still has a rating of “F” with the Better Business Bureau, just as it did in 2017. An “F” rating means, The Enterprise learned earlier from communications director Melanie McGovern of the BBB of Upstate New York, that Saita has not made a good-faith effort to reply to complaints the bureau has received. 

McGovern said that her office would post the documents from the attorney general’s office on the shop’s business profile on the BBB website. She noted that complaints are taken down after three years, and that the business’s rating will improve when that happens.

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