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BBB tip: What to do when a business closes ... for good

June 09, 2020

As businesses start to reopen after closing due to coronavirus restrictions, consumers may notice that sadly, some merchants did not survive the pandemic’s economic stress. 

What do you do when a business you frequent suddenly closes down? If you have yet to receive goods or services that you have already paid for, all may not be lost. Better Business Bureau (BBB) has these tips to help you toward resolution:

• Collect receipts, proofs of purchase and any other documents such as warranties and manuals. These materials will help you prepare for your request for a resolution.

• Check with the bank or credit card you used to make the purchase(s) at the now-closed company. You may be able to dispute the transaction(s) due to failure to receive goods or services. Credit cards offer more consumer protections on purchases than debit cards do, so it’s generally better to do your shopping, particularly for big-ticket items, with a credit card.

• Try to contact the company to complete the transaction or resolve the issue. Some closed companies will offer an email, website or phone number to contact for more information. Check with your BBB to see if they have information about the company, or search for the company on BBB.org. If the business has a physical address, check to see if there is a notice posted with information on where to turn for help. Also look on the company's website and social media presence for information.

• If the company has not filed for bankruptcy, the business is still obligated to fulfill your order for goods, services or a refund. Closing a business doesn’t relieve the owner of that responsibility. While it can be a time-consuming and expensive option, a consumer may choose to take the company to court. 

• For returns: if you have a warranty for an item you bought at the store, look into whether the warranty was issued by the manufacturer or by the store. If the manufacturer issued the warranty, it will most likely honor it. When a company goes out of business, its warranties and services often die with it, unless other agreements have been made.

• If you have unused gift cards for a closed business, bankruptcy filings will likely determine if and how they can be used or claimed. 

For more BBB news, scam alerts, and tips, visit BBB.org/news. For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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