For the last month or so, Emergency Liquidation Center has been advertising on local radio and television stations about a huge, million-dollar liquidation sale. The ad boasts MP3s, digital cameras, notebooks and laptops on sale at extraordinarily low prices. According to their television ad they are extending their sale.
Out of curiosity, we stopped by to see what Emergency Liquidation Center was like. Located inside the former Circuit City Store on Alamo Ave in Reading, OH, Emergency Liquidation Center charges a $5 admission fee to enter, which is not stated in any of its advertisements. The non-refundable $5 pays for a “membership” and allows you to enter the sale on any of the days the business is operating, which from what the signs tell us is Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Once we entered we found the dimly lit store half-filled with vendor tables, stocked with a variety of items, including jewelry, sunglasses, clothing, household items and electronics. We had a difficult time locating any of the incredible deals the company had been advertising on its radio and television ads. What we did find was that the event functioned as a flea market, with individual vendors peddling their table of goods. This can be confusing for consumers when they may want to return merchandise. In flea markets, you would return items from the specific vendor that sold you the merchandise. However, it wasn’t clear to us what return policies were.
BBB formally contacted the Emergency Liquidation Center to ask them some basic information about their business. For example, it was not clear to us what the actual name of the business is. Radio ads say the name of business as G & C Enterprises; a sign at the Circuit City Store says Central Liquidators; and the membership cards state Emergency Liquidation Center. We also asked the business where they are headquartered, what their return policies were and how consumers can contact them once they leave an area. Unfortunately, BBB did not receive a reply.
Here are some tips for shopping at liquidation sales:
- Shop around – Liquidators attempt to sell assets as quickly as possible and at the highest profit so some items will actually be priced higher. Moreover, competitors may sometimes drop their prices to compete with a liquidation sale. So check retail prices on goods before buying them at liquidation sales.
- Use a credit card – Unlike personal checks or cash, credit cards include built-in protection if the liquidator does not deliver on promised goods.
- Know the status on warranties – Warranties are often serviced by a manufacturer or third party. This means the warranty will still apply, even if the retailer goes out of business. Nonetheless, consumers should always confirm the status of a warranty before buying.
On a side note, we found a booth offering a chance to win a Samsung television. The game consisted of a table set up like a lotto machine with bouncing ping pong balls. Each ping pong ball was numbered, and each number corresponded with a point value, varying from 1-100 points. You paid $5 for the chance to fish out a ping pong ball from the mass of bouncing balls. If you reach 100 points, you get to win a TV. If you didn’t make 100 points on your first try, you can try again for another $5. Unfortunately, the vendor operating the game was unable to tell us what the odds were for getting a ball worth 100 points. We also asked the company in a formal letter to explain how the “game of chance” complies with Ohio gambling laws but the company did not reply.