SURREY — Guildford resident Mike Barbillion is one of the many “little guys” adversely affected by Sears Canada closing its stores.
He says he’ll be losing $287 he spent on extended warranty coverage in January after having bought a fridge, stove and dishwasher from Sears.
“Sears was the place to go when I was a kid, and that was a long time ago,” he said. “Ordering it from the catalog, I guess that was the precursor to Amazon.
“It’s a sign of the times.”
Sears Canada received the green light from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Oct. 13 to begin liquidating its inventory, furnitures, fixtures and equipment on Oct. 19. It will close its remaining 74 stores across the country, one of them at Guildford Town Centre shopping mall. Some 12,000 employees will lose their jobs.
The Better Business Bureau issued a public bulletin on Monday noting that after today (Oct. 18), Sears will no longer honour extended warranties but customers who purchased one within the last 30 days will get a refund.
That doesn’t do Barbillon any good.
“Cash out of pocket. It’s a substantial amount, and you multiple that by at minimum a million, and it’s a substantial number,” he said. “I don’t have a lawyer at my disposal to fight in court on my behalf, let alone millions of other customers that this is going to happen to. I don’t want it happening to me.
“Creditors — aka banks — have lawyers at their disposal, to look after their financial concerns, and when it goes to the courts, the first people to be taken care of are the creditors.”
Barbillon said he’s been through a similar experience.
“It’s happened to me before. I got stiffed for a couple of paycheques, with no recourse. So I‘m familiar with how it goes.”
Evan Kelly, senior communications advisor for BBB serving the Lower Mainland, said the “simple rule of thumb” is that “if a business is operating then extended warranties are OK, if not, then there is little recourse. If you wish to fight for a refund, you could contact the trustee involved in the liquidation, but that can take a long time and you have to question whether it’s worth the effort.
“The other concern was about gift cards,” Kelly added. “Sears said they will honour gift cards through the liquidation sales so you’d be best to spend them now.”
People looking for deals at Sears during the liquidation should remember all sales will be final.
The Better Business Bureau recommends that shoppers compare prices, as a closing out sale doesn’t necessarily mean lowest prices. If you have Sears Club Points, which have been offered since the 1980s, use them now, it advises.
Meantime, Guildford Town Centre administration declined to comment on what new tenant might replace Sears.
Ivanhoe Cambridge owns the shopping mall. Asked if there’s a potential new tenant in the wings, Riordan McCarthy, retail leasing director for Guildford Town Centre, told the Now-Leader, “We’re not at liberty to say at this moment. It is early days and the Sears bankruptcy process is still working its way through the courts.
“We’re excited about the potential opportunity that could exist but at this stage of the game we’re quite early in the process.”