Customers stew after bankruptcy

Staff WriterMarch 16, 2010 

  • The Better Business Bureau recommends two things:

    File a complaint with your credit card company requesting a "chargeback," or reimbursement of your payment because products were never received.

    Obtain a Proof of Claim form by writing to the North Carolina Eastern Bankruptcy Court CM/ECF, P.O Box 1441, Raleigh, N.C. 27602. Include the case number: 10-01740-8-SWH. This will include you on the list of creditors to whom the company owes money.

A Cary kitchen-and-restaurant supply company that filed for bankruptcy this month left dozens of customers without merchandise and has amassed more than 200 complaints with the Better Business Bureau and state Attorney General's Office.

Kitchen Gadgetry filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 4 and has received 168 complaints with the Better Business Bureau in the past 12 months. Of those 106 were for undelivered merchandise.

Company officials did not return requests for comment Monday.

Their attorney, Travis Sasser, confirmed that Alex Gomes and his parents own the business, but he declined to comment on behalf of the company.

The Better Business Bureau has been keeping tabs on Kitchen Gadgetry since March 2008, but complaints and inquiries started to soar last fall, President and CEO Beverly Baskin said.

The company started operating primarily as an Internet business in 2007, according to the Better Business Bureau. It had been rated F by the BBB but now has no rating as it has shut down its operation.

Along with complaints, the number of people inquiring about the company jumped from 639 for all of 2009 to 707 so far in 2010.

"It's one of our red flags," Baskin said. "We kind of monitor these things, and then someone says, 'Hey, this company has been getting a lot of complaints. Let's figure out what's going on.'"

In addition, the Attorney General's Office has received 46 complaints about the company.

Customers who did not receive the merchandise they ordered and who paid with a credit card can file a complaint with their card company to see whether they can get a refund, Baskin said.

In February, the company alerted the Attorney General's Office that it was not taking any further orders and was trying to liquidate assets.

The company said in that notice that it would not contest chargeback claims from customers whose products had not been delivered.

Customers can also obtain a Proof of Claim form by writing to the bankruptcy court. This will put them on the official list of creditors for the case.

Though it's true that individual creditors are often the last to be paid, Baskin said, filing is still a measure worth taking.

"You never know how far the money's going to go," she said.

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