A News 4 investigation that crossed continents all started when Elena Housmann tried buying a gift for her father, an avid golfer.
She purchased a device called Tour Tempo at a Here Today store in Arnold for 99 cents.
"I thought, oh I am a bargain shopper and this is a huge bargain, so I am going to go for it and buy it," she said.
But the product did not work. She contacted the store and was told, "there was nothing they could do to help me at this time."
But her dad tracked down the manufacturer, John Novosel. Novosel's an inventor and a golf enthusiast.
"We've got about 4-5 patents on similar inventions, we started doing tones with musical background telling when to start swing," said Novosel.
Novosel invented The Tour Tempo, a little earpiece to wear on the green and help improve your swing.
About three years ago, he invested $60,000 hoping to sell the Tour Tempo on the market for $100 apiece.
He used an American firm to manufacture the Tour Tempo and they were put together in a factory in China. Hundreds of units were made in a factory north of Hong Kong and then sent back to the United States.
They arrived at the U.S. customs facility in Chicago. Custom agents confiscated the shipment because of a little marking on the battery charger.
"Once we went through an exam with customs, we found out our Chinese producer had not actually sourced those through UL provider, they were fake," said Novosel.
The Novosels were told they couldn't sell the Tour Tempo and that customs agents would destroy the product.
News 4 Investigates filed a Freedom of Information request with U.S. Customs and they tell told said all of the Tour Tempo devices were destroyed.
But they could not say how the products ended up on Here Today store shelves in St. Louis.
The business model at the store is based on the idea of here today---gone tomorrow. Items are marked way lower than other retailers and the inventory is inconsistent and often sells quickly.
News 4 took questions to store's owner, Tom Holley. The Halley family is familiar with these types of stores, they also owned Grandpa Pigeon's discount retail chain.
Halley told News 4, "We buy truckloads of product all the time, blind trucks, sometimes we know what we are getting, sometimes we don't. But our goal is to have the best value we can."
As for Tour Tempo, he says "I unloaded it and it was a truckload of different stuff and I don't know where it came from."
He says they pulled it from the shelves as soon as they knew it wasn't working.
News 4 Investigates has been contacting officials with U.S. Customs for over a month.
Agents say they still don't understand what happened with the Tour Temp shipment but they are now investigating.
Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved