Ways to protect yourself when a business goes out of business

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - 12 On Your Side heard from unhappy customers with nowhere to turn after losing money to U.S.A. Baby of Richmond when their business went belly up.

To protect yourself, you must act quickly. The more time passes, the harder it becomes to reach the owners, when a business closes. They know customers feeling jilted only care about getting their money or the purchased furniture.

When you're the customer of a business that suddenly closes or goes bankrupt, your frustration intensifies.

"It's an extra burden that obviously U.S.A Baby doesn't care about. It's very upsetting," said Matt Cecil.

U.S.A Baby Richmond franchise is belly up.  Owners 'D & R Ventures, Inc' blames the landlord and says they were locked out. The landlord took possession of the building and the inventory August 25th.

"We've had a number of complaints filed with us. This is a company that has an established reputation, gone out of business," said Tom Gallagher, from the Better Business Bureau.

Like the Better Business Bureau, NBC 12 is getting distress messages.

One customer wrote, "I have an order I haven't picked up. Please help me out."

Another wrote, "We too purchased items. Also, my mother-in-law and sister. This is our first child. I am due anytime. We are beside ourselves, just praying for a resolution."

And, this person, out $713 for baby furniture wrote, "I read your story on 12 On Your Side. I have nowhere to turn."

"Notify the credit card company that the delivery never happened so, you're going to have some protections there. If you put it on a debit card, it's a little dicier," said Gallagher.

If you financed the purchase, tell the financing company and dispute payments on undelivered merchandise. If the company files bankrupt, make your claim with bankruptcy court.You might get paid if assets are liquidated. Call the business owners, their lawyers and the manufacturer right away.

"We've got babies that are coming at a certain date. People are preparing the nursery," said Gallagher. "It's very unfortunate, but they are doing what can be done."

U.S.A. Baby says most customers have a refund or the merchandise. But, a few who contacted NBC 12, say the company's website information is no longer helpful. In this economy, it's wise not to pay in advance.  If you must, the B.B.B. says to get in writing what the business will do for you, in case it suddenly closes.

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