Store or business gone bankrupt. What happens now?
Did you order a product or service but the store or trader went bankrupt or into liquidation? Using four different sets of circumstances, ECC Belgium explains what you can do to get your money back.
- You did not receive the product or service?
- What about the guarantee for your purchase?
- What can you do with gift vouchers?
- What if the airline went bankrupt?
You did not receive the product or service
Did you pay by credit card? Contest the payment with your credit card provider. To do so, use the cash back system at www.mijnkaart.be or www.macarte.be. Remember to include relevant information about the liquidation or bankruptcy.
Did you use a different payment method? In that case, you have no choice but to submit a claim for payment to the curator or liquidator appointed by the courts as soon as possible. The rules on how to submit a claim for payment vary in all European member states. Check here for specific information concerning method and timing.
But remember: after a bankruptcy, there is little chance of getting your money back as consumers are last in line for refunds.
What about the guarantee for your purchase?
Did the store go bankrupt or into liquidation? Unfortunately, your legal guarantee will be void. Check whether the commercial activities were taken over by another company and subject to which conditions. Also check whether you are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. If you are, that will be your only prospect of receiving free repairs following the trader’s bankruptcy.
What can you do with gift vouchers?
You need to differentiate between the company selling the gift vouchers, the company issuing the gift vouchers and the company supplying the service. Your rights depend on which company has been declared bankrupt:
- the seller: in principle, you should be able to use the gift voucher without any problem, unless the seller did not pay the other parties.
- the issuer of the gift voucher: you will only be able to use the service if the service provider has been paid.
- the service provider: contact the seller to request a repayment.
In some cases, the three roles are covered by the same company. In that case, the first situation applies.
Was the seller aware of the issuer’s or service provider’s bankruptcy when he sold you the voucher? If so, the seller must refund the money.
Does this also apply to airlines?
It depends on how you obtained your flight ticket. There are two possibilities:
Your flight is part of a package holiday
Is your flight part of a package holiday, which includes flights and accommodation (or other tourism-related services)? In that case, there is no need to worry about the airline going bankrupt. Your travel operator has to offer you an alternative.
Package holidays are subject to specific legislation, i.e. the travel operator is responsible for implementing all the planned elements of the agreement. Is there a problem with a specific element, such as the flight? The travel operator has to resolve the issue.
The Travel Guarantee Fund (www.gfg.be) will only intervene when a travel operator or travel agent goes bankrupt.
You only booked a flight ticket
In that case, you are not entitled to a refund. Did you book the ticket online or via a travel agent? Ask for a refund from the reservation website or travel agent. They are not legally obliged to pay you back but can provide advice. If this fails, follow the procedure described in the first situation.
Good to know: Sometimes other airlines will come to the rescue, offering special deals for passengers affected by the bankruptcy of another airline. You will be issued with a new ticket subject to payment. Always remember to compare this ticket price with offers from other airlines.