HOLDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A dispute over a $13 dollar glow in the dark toilet seat is at the center of a criminal case that could lead to a jury trial next week in District Court in Ellsworth. The Holden woman accused of the crime feels she has done nothing wrong, but prosecutors and the Ellsworth Antique store that sought the charges feel differently.
Sheri Therrien was shopping with her husband and three kids last month at Big Chicken Barn Books and Antiques in Ellsworth. They got a glow in the dark toilet seat. The very next day, she says she noticed it was broken, so she called the store and asked if she could return it and says she was surprised by the answer from the store owner.
"She became very angry that I even suggested that I would make a return and she informed me the return would not happen that she has a no return policy and that basically once you've made a purchase that's it you've made the purchase tough luck if its broken you're on your own...The very next morning I cancelled the check. I realized I paid with a check and I cancelled it. And I think anyone in my situation would have," explained Therrien.
But what happened next, she says, came as a surprise.
"It was a brief time later, I had an officer show up at my door with a summonse to appear in court on a charge of theft."
Sherri Therrien still had the toilet seat, and another 12 dollar door knocker she also wrote a check for. She has to go to court on December 18th to appear before a judge on a charge of theft by unauthorized taking. She plans to ask for a jury trial.
"Yes this is going to court, I have a right to a jury trial and i'm quite disgusted by it."
Therrien says she tried to mail a check to the store for the door knocker but it wasn't cashed. The only item she disputes is that 13 dollar toilet seat.
"I feel I had every right to cancel that check... What is she doing by taking my money and leaving me to sit with a broken item?" asked Therrien.
It may be a jury that decides if she was in the right or wrong.
If she is found guilty of theft by unauthorized taking, Therrien could face a fine of up to one thousand dollars and up to 6 months in jail. We did attempt to get an on camera interview from the owners of Big Chicken Barn Books and Antiques but they told us they wanted to speak to their attorney first. They did tell us during a brief phone conversation that they have a 'no return policy' which is posted in the store. They also told us that after initially refusing to accept the toilet seat from Therrien, they did offer to take it back, which Therrien says is absolutely not true. The case is scheduled for 8:30 Tuesday December 18th in Ellsworth.
There is a law in Maine that does allow consumers to return damaged or defective goods for a refund. Linda Conti, an assistant attorney general who heads up the consumer division says that if it is returned immediately, a consumer has the right to a refund, even if a store has a 'no return policy'.
"If the thing is truly defective they have to take it back if the consumer rejects it immediately," Conti said.
The Maine Attorney Generals office does have a consumer law guide on its website.