WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — UPDATE: On March 20, 2021 - the day after this story was published - Stefanie Coesens told 7 Action News that she got her money back. "Seems like perfect timing. Chase won the dispute we filed with Loves or they did right on their end," she explained in an email to us.
One St. Clair County couple is frustrated after paying in full for their new furniture only to find out days later Loves Furniture was filing for bankruptcy. They have not received their furniture or a refund.
Can you believe it’s been a year this month that Art Van Furniture filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy?
There was some hope for many of those employees and customers when Loves Furniture took over several dozen of those stores last summer. But pandemic-related supply issues plagued the new business along with delivery problems.
Loves filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 6, 2021.
But some customers who paid for merchandise they never received are very frustrated.
I went searching for answers for one couple who reached out to me recently.
Michael and Stefanie Coesens started the new year of 2021 with a visit to the Shelby Township Loves Furniture store.
“We purchased a queen bed, and the headboard, the footboard, the two nightstands, the chest. Yeah, a complete new set,” said Stefanie Coesens.
The grand total? $2,857.76 -- paid in full on January first with their debit card.
The furniture was slated to be delivered to their new home on January 23.
But five days after their purchase they saw the headlines.
“’Loves has filed chapter 11 bankruptcy,’ you know,” said Stefanie imitating a broadcaster.
“And we were like, ‘We just bought furniture on Monday.’ Like, ‘Oh no! What are we going to do?’” she recalled.
Her husband called the store manager who told him their furniture was at the Loves Warehouse on 14 Mile in Warren. So, he loaded up a trailer to pick it up himself.
Once he got there, the warehouse was padlocked.
A manager said any furniture inside was being liquidated.
“That’s what got us the most was we know it’s sitting there, but we weren’t allowed to take it even though we had all the proof that we paid for it!” exclaimed Stefanie.
They received an email from Loves Customer Care on January 21, 2021 that said:
Our records indicate that you have a pending order, we wanted to reach out to you to advise you that we have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Per the direction of the courts, all orders placed on or prior to January 6, 2021 are to be canceled, we have therefore canceled your order.
We have noted that your order was placed with a credit card – it is the recommendation of the bankruptcy courts, that you file a dispute with your credit card company for any funds owed to you.
At this time, we are unable to fulfill orders, offer credits, or refund funds for order placed prior to filing. If you are still interested in making a new purchase or locating an item, we recommend that you contact your local store(s) directly to see what items are available to purchase. In-store products vary by store and are available to take home same day.
For continued, up to date information, please visit our website at www.lovesfurniture.com"
Yes, the Coesens would have to buy their furniture again – paying for it a second time!
And they certainly weren’t going to do that. So, they decided to fight for a refund.
PAYING WITH CREDIT VS. DEBIT
“Credit card companies are usually willing to work with you especially in cases such as this with bankruptcy,” said Laura Blankenship – Chief of Staff and Director of Marketing for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Blankenship said it’s typically harder to get a refund if you paid with gift cards or money directly from your checking account – as was the case with the Coesens.
I reached out to the attorney representing Loves Furniture and received a written response from Loves stating:
"As you may be aware from our on-line filings, Loves ability to deliver items was impacted in late December and Loves had difficulty in resuming delivery service thereafter. As a result, at the time that Loves filed a Chapter 11 petition in bankruptcy on January 6, 2021, Loves had no ability to deliver customer items. Every customer who had an open order was personally called by a member of Loves’ Customer Service team and was told that all orders set for delivery were being canceled, that merchandise from the warehouse was being moved to the stores, and that customers could purchase items directly from its liquidation sales. Customers who paid for orders by credit or debit card were informed that the quickest way to obtain a refund was through contacting their credit card provider. Customers who paid by cash or check must await the lengthy bankruptcy process to seek a refund.
With respect to the Coesens, we have attached their order and receipt. It shows that payment was with a Visa debit card ending in 0969. Loves’ recommendation to Mr. and Mrs. Coesens is to file a dispute with the bank that issued the card and to request a refund to their account. They can also file a claim with the bankruptcy court but it will take much longer for that claim to be reviewed. If our records are incorrect, and payment was actually paid by check, please ask the Coesens to send us a copy of the canceled check and Loves can update our records. We will then submit her claim to the bankruptcy court along with other customers who paid by cash or check."
The Coesens did contact their bank which put a ‘temporary credit’ in their account – which the couple is not touching.
The bank told them talks are planned with Loves in April to try to formally get the refund, but there’s no guarantee they’ll get the money back.
“It kind of sounded like we were in a ‘You lost out’ situation,” said Stefanie.
Loves said it also has had a number of customers reach out about the extended warranties that they purchased through Loves.
The company said in a statement:
“Those warranties are provided by Uniters, a third party, and are not affected by Loves bankruptcy. Uniters will continue to honor warranties that were purchased.”
Bottom line, the Better Business Bureau recommends if you are buying any big ticket items or ordering goods online, always pay with a credit card.
That way you have more recourse when problems pop up.