Pitfalls and perils of navigating NC going-out-of-business sales


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)— You’ve seen the signs: “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS — STORE CLOSING!!” “BIG DISCOUNTS! 60 to 75 PERCENT OFF!!”

The deals sound great — but are they real deals? And what about gift cards or service contracts you’ve purchased?

North Carolina regulates going-out-of-business sales to make sure consumers are protected.

The hhgregg store in east Raleigh has eight days to go before it closes forever. Wednesday, a pickup truck was outside the store, loaded up with a fridge, dishwasher and couch.

The owner of all that new stuff says she saved thousands at going out of business sale.

“They told me it comes with a manufacture’s warranty, so I just bought it with that,” said Mariama Dillo. She didn’t bother with a service contract.

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But what happens if you buy a service contract from a store, and that store then ceases to exist?

“If you have one and the retailer or company that services it is going out of business, you may be in the lurch,” says state Attorney General Josh Stein.

Gift cards are another issue; if you’ve got them you had better spend them.

“You need to use it as quickly as possible, and that really applies for gift cards with any company,” says Stein.

For example, Gander Mountain says on its going-out-of-business website it will only honor gift cards until May 18.

Once a store announces it’s going out of business certain laws kick in.

“When you are going out of business, you can’t buy any more new stock. You have to shut down within a certain period of time. And you can’t reopen within a year of having been shut down,” explained the attorney general.

Going out of business stores offer deep discounts, but experts say you have shop carefully.

“The bottom line: People come in here now looking for a deal. There are no great deals today,” said one man who’d just left a going out of business sale.

Some going out of business sales can be confusing.

For example, Gander Mountain’s website says it’s closing all stores nationwide. But the website for Gander’s east Raleigh store says that particular store will reopen after being acquired by new owners.

The attorney general says he’ll be watching that situation.

“They’re going through bankruptcy process, and there’s a whole body of federal law governing that,” he said. “I don’t know what the status is of Gander Mountain, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Think you’ve been ripped off by a going out of business sale? The attorney general can help.

Consumer Resources

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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