When a Business Shuts Its Doors

What do you do when a local business shuts its door? Unfortunately, “Out of Business” signs pop up all the time, usually accompanied by disconnected phones and unanswered email. But the business is still obligated to provide the goods or services that have been paid for, or to refund the customers’ money.

There are several things you can do if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Write to the owner and keep copies of your correspondence. Mail is usually forwarded when a business closes. Be polite and you may get satisfaction.
  • If you paid via credit card, write to your credit card company to dispute the charges. Under federal law, you have 60 days after the charge first appears on a bill (this doesn’t work if you paid with a debit card).store closing 150x150 When a Business Shuts Its Doors
  • Contact the landlord to inquire about gaining access to merchandise inside the property.
  • File a complaint with BBB at www.bbb.org/complain. If the company hasn’t closed completely, BBB will help you try to resolve the issue. If the company reopens, your complaint will follow them.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov. FTC cannot help resolve your complaint, but the information they receive helps their investigations.
  • If the company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have 90 days to file a claim with the bankruptcy court. Forms and more information are available at uscourts.gov.
  • If the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it means they intend to stay in business and need time to reorganize. During this time, they usually honor contracts, gift cards, etc. and try to fulfill delivery of all goods and services already purchased. Be persistence but patient during this time and it may work out.
  • If the company owner does not file for bankruptcy, you could file in small claims court.
  • Service warranties may still be honored by the manufacturer or a third party servicer. Contact the manufacturer to find out if another business in your area will honor the warranty.

Thanks to BBB Wisconsin and BBB Minnesota and North Dakota for providing information for this article.

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.