Educational Consumer Tips
What Should You Do When a Business Closes?
You take your TV to a repair shop, but when you return to pick it up, you find that the shop is no longer in business. What do you do when the company you've been doing business with or expect further service from has suddenly gone out of business? Trying to locate a company that has gone out of business can be difficult.
The Better Business Bureau suggests the following:
- Go to the last known location to see if the company has posted any instructions or signs. If not, ask neighboring companies if they know what may have happened. If the business was located in an office building, you should try contacting the landlord of the building.
- Send a letter to the company's last known address asking the owner to contact you. Even if the business is closed, the mail may be subject to a forwarding order. You can also pay a visit to your Post Office to see if the company has a forwarding address.
- If you don't know the names of the principals, check with your city or county clerk's office. This may require a personal visit and you may be charged a small fee.
- If the business is regulated, such as attorneys, doctors, engineers, employment services, new car dealer, etc., contact the licensing agency. If you're not sure whether the company is regulated, contact your state's Department of Licensing & Regulations office. They will be able to tell you how to contact the appropriate regulatory authorities.
- Contact the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court in the area where the company was located to see if the company may have filed for bankruptcy.
- Contact Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Delaware. The BBB does not trace companies, but it does receive information daily on a number of changes in business locations and ownerships and may be able to help you.
- If you are successful in locating the owner and the business is not in bankruptcy, you are still owed your services, product, or money. Closing a business does not relieve the owner of his or her obligation to you. If you cannot obtain an appropriate settlement from the company, file a complaint with the Attorney General's office, with Small Claims Court, or seek the help of an attorney.
- If the company has filed for bankruptcy, you should file a claim with the bankruptcy court. http://www.deb.uscourts.gov/
- The court will suspend the company's obligations to creditors and customers until it approves a plan to reorganize or liquidate the company. Under the plan you, as a claimant, may or may not get all or part of what you are owed.