Some consumers in Northwest Indiana are facing a unique challenge: What to
do after pre-paying cash for a large item, only to discover the business is
closed leaving consumers without the merchandise?
A bridal shop
Valparaiso and an appliance store in Highland have consumers holding
paid-in-full receipts but no items, the Better Business Bureau of Northwest
Indiana (BBB) said.
to confirm a delivery date of appliances or a pick-up for their wedding
dress are finding full voicemail boxes, locked doors, and no response from
business owners, the BBB said.
“BBB staff gets
calls from consumers who discover a local business has closed its doors
without any notice to consumers,” said Gail Zurek, area director of BBB
Serving Northern Indiana. “It is heartbreaking to see consumers in this
position. Since the business has closed and the owner may have packed up and
left town, there may not be much you can do. Unfortunately consumers have to
take additional steps to receive some type of compensation.”
Here are some
suggestions for those who face this dilemma:
Bankruptcy Court, to determine if the company is bankrupt. If not and owner
is unwilling to provide a refund, contact the Attorney General's office or
seek legal help. If they are bankrupt, register a complaint.
•If you paid by
credit card, contact your credit card company within 90 days and dispute the
charge. If paid for by any other means, your dispute must be filed with the
•Try and find
out who is in charge of the building and ask them for a contact.
•The post office
may be able to provide a forwarding address.
city/county clerk for assistance in finding the owner. A fee may be charged
if they need to visit the site.
Here are ways to
protect yourself from a company’s closure:
before deciding to pay in advance for goods.
•Only offer to
pay a small deposit.
a deposit, check with the seller on how long it will take before your goods
will be delivered.
•If there is a
long delivery period, don’t pay in full.
pay by credit card as all credit cards provide some rights, so you can get
your money back if the items are not delivered. Some debit cards may provide
some flexibility but find out first.
•Use gift cards,
vouchers, certificates as quickly as possible. Gift cards have been a hot
item for birthday and holidays gifts, but place the card where it is visible
and use it as soon as possible.
If you have any
questions or need any assistance, please call your Better Business Bureau at