Tips when a store closes

By Diane Walker - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – What do you do when a business closes up and the store has your money and your merchandise? 12 on Your Side is looking into one woman's complaint. Some of the information may help you.

Talk to neighboring businesses, go to the last known address, look for a notice, and check the post office for a forwarding address. Recovering what's owed to you is difficult anytime a business closes up and the owner doesn't want to be found.

"Call and talk to me like a man and let's resolve this. Get my furniture or get my money. I'm not going to let 8,000 dollars go out of my hands like that," said Mary Carter.

Mary Carter never thought she'd be on the losing end of a nearly $8,000 furniture sale. After all, she'd done business with the store before and was on a first name basis with the salesman.

"Tim ordered it and when he ordered it, he claimed it stayed in the warehouse," she said.

Mary called 12 and we discovered she did something no consumer should ever consider. In 2007, Mary gave a $7,560 check to Timothy Jones of Northside Home Furnishings. The furniture was too big for her apartment. So Mary says the two agreed verbally for him to store it.

Six months later she says Jones told her he was closing the store. She says he kept her furniture for free until 2009 when the storage location changed and then she began paying $50 a month. But there was no written storage agreement.

"To do something unusual, in this case, storing it for you, you need to have a contract. You need to have it in writing," said Elaine Lidholm with the Virginia Department of Consumer Affairs.

Timothy Jones and his relatives are not returning our calls. Divaris Property Management said they don't have an address for him either, but won a court judgment for unpaid rent they can't collect.

"I trusted him. I really did. I trusted him," Mary said.

Here's a late development. Mary says Timothy Jones called today and said he and his brother will refund her money. He doesn't have the furniture.

Meantime an additional tip: if you decide to sue, get the deposit information from the back of your canceled check. The account can be attached to secure the judgment if you win in court.

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