You’ve purchased a couch, but the company is no longer there, now what?

September 04, 2008

Your BBB has had reports that a local furniture store has closed its operations this week. Some of the most frustrated consumers who contact your BBB each year are those calling about businesses that appear to have closed.

BBB would like to use this time to remind consumers what they can do in this situation.

Explore your payment options. If you made payment by credit card and a product is not delivered, you may have recourse through your credit card company. First, attempt to contact the merchant. If you have made reasonable attempts, without success, immediately contact your credit card issuer and ask for an investigation into the charges or ask for a chargeback. Advise the credit card company that the merchant appears out of business and that the product has not been delivered as promised. If your claim is verified, a refund or credit may be issued to you.

If you made payment by cheque, examine the back of the cancelled cheque to see where it was deposited. Contact that bank or have your bank assist to see if they maintain an active account, or if they can locate the business and its principals.

Can’t find the company but they may still be operating. Visit the last known location of the business. Look for signs or instructions. Ask neighbouring firms if they know the whereabouts of the business. Call directory assistance for a possible new address or phone number.

Once you locate the business owners, call or write, sending your letter by registered mail.

If you think they may be bankrupt. When a business cannot pay their debts, they may file for Bankruptcy, this process must be handled by an insolvency professional – a private sector trustee who is registered by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankrupcty. This office maintains a central database which records all bankruptcies filed in Canada and for a fee, they will search the records for you to confirm the bankruptcy status of an individual or business. In this case, you can make a claim with this trustee.

Start with the BBB. As a reminder, the BBB receives information daily on a number of changes in business locations and ownerships and may be able to help you. Go to to search through our North American-wide database of company reports.