Updated: Wednesday, 05 May 2010, 10:45 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 05 May 2010, 10:45 PM CDT
Austin (KXAN) - Employees of embattled MyTown Media lined up Wednesday night, hoping to get past due paychecks.
Several dozen employees came to a northwest Austin hotel. Company representatives were there, handing out paychecks from a conference room. Employees got the word from the company blog late Wednesday afternoon that they could pick up checks between 7:00 and 9:00.
"I don't want to be on camera," one man told the KXAN photojournalist as he walked out of the conference room. "He's one of the managers," a woman told the photojournalist. He held a beer bottle in one hand, a check in the other.
Other employees left empty-handed.
"If you're waiting for a check from April 30th, they're only giving them for the 16th," a woman announced as she left the room. She bit her lip as she waited for the elevator, then sighed heavily when the doors opened.
She paused, as more employees got out of the elevator, coming in to wait in the line. As people began to crowd the hallways, hotel managers moved the group to a larger conference room.
Many of the employees had been waiting a month for paychecks. Employees told us their paychecks started bouncing in early April. The unexpected loss of income is taking a big toll on many of them.
"I've had e-mails about people being repossessed of their cars, couldn't pay their rent, being evicted," said Keith Adams, a MyTown Media worker waiting in the lobby.
"Bank accounts are negative severely, because checks were deposited, they were originally credited, then returned," Adams said. "In my case, bounced check, bounced check fee, returned check fee. Chase is starting to close my account. If I get a paycheck from somewhere else, it's just going to cover fees and it's being held. It's a really difficult time."
Ryan Anderson stormed out of the conference room. He did not get a check. The company asked employees to bring the original check number and the amount of the checks that bounced. Anderson said he learned about the distribution event late, and did not have time to get the information.
"They know that all the checks have bounced. Now they want me to prove that it bounced," Anderson said angrily. "How am I supposed to get back in touch with them? They gave me an e-mail address, but from what I've heard, they're not really being in contact with people through the e-mail."
"So, it's really frustrating and I don't know what I'm going to do," Anderson said as he left the hotel.
Victor Carr had a more hopeful experience.
"They just recut my check," said Carr. "It's not right, because I'm short on hours, but it's at least a good faith payment."
Despite his difficulties due to the bounced paychecks, Adams had positive things to say about MyTown Media owner Christian Hunter.
"I think [he] is working diligently and hard to resolve this," Adams said. "It's not like he's sitting on a bunch of money and not paying people."
"I know he's going through a lot of personal chaos and turmoil," Adams continued. "I think things were far worse than he understood when he first got into it, so with good intentions he made statements that X was going to happen, then it was just snowballing on him one thing after another."
"So, the good intentions just didn't work out," Adams said as he walked to the back of the line, waiting to get his check.