5 On Your Side

Bankrupt Furniture Store Leaves Customers Standing

Posted January 17, 2007
Updated March 21, 2007

— A trustee is sorting through claims made against a bankrupt furniture store in Cary.

NC Home Furniture went out of business last month, stranding dozens of customers who had put down deposits for furniture but never received the items they ordered.

Laura Neely put down more than $1,900 for an armoire and bookcase at the store in June. She said she was told she would have the items within 2½ months.

“We were pretty excited and hoping they would be here before we had company for the holidays, but no such luck,” she said.

Neely repeatedly called and e-mailed to check on the status of the shipment. At the three-month mark, she said she was told it would be another three weeks.

“When I called back in three weeks, the store had been closed. At that point, I knew there was an issue,” she said.

NC Home Furniture continued to take orders online, so Neely said she kept e-mailing the owners. In November, Neely got an e-mail saying the shipping company would pick up the furniture in a few days.

That never happened, and a month later, NC Home Furniture owners Max and Kelly Godfrey filed for bankruptcy.

“I was just stunned -- stunned -- and then I was mad,” Neely said.

Forty people filed complaints against the furniture store with the state Attorney General's Office, and 166 complaints were lodged with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB actually revoked the store's membership in April.

Attorney David Warren has been appointed the bankruptcy trustee for the store and is in charge of getting customers refunds.

“I want to get them paid as badly as they want to get their money,” Warren said.

He is responsible for collecting all of NC Home Furniture's assets, selling them and paying creditors, including customers like Neely. But he said it's not yet clear how much those customers will get back, noting that the process could take a year.

“We just have gotten all the collateral in, the inventory in. We're assessing it right now,” he said. “They're are probably in better shape with the company being in bankruptcy (and) having an independent trustee appointed than not.”

Customers who made deposits should get a "proof of claim" form in the mail within the next couple of weeks, Warren said. They need to fill it out and submit it to the bankruptcy court by April, he said.

Warren said customers can't just claim their furniture, even if it's part of the seized inventory, because of the logistical problems it would create. The only fair way to resolve the creditor claims is to sell everything and work with cash, he said.

If you order online or over the phone, you're protected by the Federal Mail Order rule, which states that if the furniture isn't delivered by the estimated date, the consumer has the option to re-schedule delivery or get a refund.

Buying with a credit card gives people protection.  Credit card users have 120 days to dispute a charge if they file the dispute in writing.

Neely said she has learned a lesson.

“I think we spend a lot of time picking out the merchandise we want and getting the right brand and exactly what we want. But we don't spend enough time trying to figure out who are we going to buy it from and why would we buy it from those people,” she said.


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  • drnc Jan 22, 2007

    I'd call John Edwards.

  • tonic750 Jan 19, 2007

    I ordered a bunk bed from the same company and got the exact same story. Repeated phone calls to Amanda which never got returned. Unfulfilled promises of delivery dates, etc. I was told they were just switching locations and not to worry even after the bankrupcy group was liquidating their merchandise (I did not know it was being liquidated due to bankrupcy at the time). We were lucky enough to get a refund on our credit card but it was still a huge hassle and our daughter was unable to receive her birthday present as promised. I cannot believe the dishonesty and lies that were told by Amanda and the manager/owners. Jennifer seemed to be somewhat in the dark as to what was going on and she at least did return a phone call, but the furniture never did arrive after several "I promise it will be in next week" type responses. Good luck to all the others who are hoping to get the furniture or money back.

  • Tax Man Jan 19, 2007

    It would seem that if the company kept collecting money knowing they could not deliver on existing orders that it would be a "Ponzi" scheme. This would appear to be fraud and the Bankruptcy would not protect the owners. The Wake County DA should look into this - Probation with resititution could be ordered and if the customers were not paid back, some prison time would work. Where did all the money go? I would want to audit theire books - perhaps the IRS and NC Dept of Revenue need to examine this as well. I had the same thing happen with a company called Cary Furniture operated by the Popples - Mr Popple is still in prison for tax evasion!

  • JoeyC Jan 19, 2007

    It is very common for furniture stores to go out of business and not be able to deliver a person's order. To protect yourself, if you can, use a credit card, and if you don't get the furniture, dispute it with your credit card company letting them know you never received the products you ordered. This is the advice Clark Howard gives on his radio program.

  • ifcdirector Jan 18, 2007

    "Warren said customers can't just claim their furniture, even if it's part of the seized inventory, because of the logistical problems it would create. The only fair way to resolve the creditor claims is to sell everything and work with cash, he said." This is why people hate scumbag lawyers like this one. Of course he wants to work with the "cash"! What crooked money grubbing lawyer would want 30% of a dining room set. No the just and fair thing would be to give the people their furniture that they made a contract for but money and greed and scumbag lawyers put that far on the back burner while they suck as much money out of this process over the course of a beauracratic year. And we are supposed to be free in this country? Yeah. Right.

  • Curegrrl Jan 18, 2007

    i think it's reasons like this that hurt small businesses...i think i'll stick with shopping at Rooms to Go...at least with a national chain in good standing i'll have that extra reassurance...and i'd probably get my furniture a lot quicker too if ordered

  • stephaniejohnston77 Jan 18, 2007

    My name is Patricia Johnston and I have also been waiting for furniture. I left a deposit of $1650.42 for furniture on 5/31/06. As the pieces were a special order, I was told it could take several months. I called several times after the 8 week period had passed and spoke to Amanda, my sales person. I passed the store in early august and saw the closing signs. When I went in, I was told they were moving to a new location due to problems with the landlord. On 8/16, I was told my furniture would ship on 9/24. On 9/7- I stopped by store and cancelled living room and was told 2 more weeks on the dining rooom. I left messages but got no calls back. 9/22-store is closed so I went to office in Raleigh. Amanda no longer there, I spoke to Rob, the boss. He was going to get it straightened out but knew nothing about a cancellation. After several visits to the office and conversations w/Jennifer, I was assured that the furniture would be deliverd by Thanksgiving. It did not come-no refund