‘What rights do I have if a business I’ve bought from ceases to trade?’

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Q. I recently ordered an item from a store that has since gone out of business. I had paid for the item in full, what are my rights?

A. You might end up without the item you paid for or with unfinished work if a company or trader stops trading or goes out of business.

There are several ways to try to get your money back or get the work done. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you paid for.

You can contact the company, by telephone, visit their office or shop, or write to them to find out what’s happening. Explain what you’ve paid for and ask for the item you bought or for a refund.

If you can’t reach the company

If you can’t get hold of the company or want to confirm that they’ve gone out of business (also called going bankrupt or going into administration or receivership), search for their name on:

* the Companies House website, which gives details if they’re a limited company (limited companies are those with the letters ‘Ltd’ or ‘Plc’ after their name)

* from the Insolvency Register if they’re an individual (a sole trader) or a partnership - search both the name of the person and their trading name

It can take a few weeks for information to appear on these websites.

If the company has gone out of business

Get details of the administrator or receiver, that is the person who is dealing with settling the trader’s debts. The names of those administrators will usually be on the website of the company that’s gone bust. You’ll need this information if you wish to make a claim.

Dealing with a company that’s gone out of business

When you know for certain that a company has gone out of business and you haven’t got what you paid for, you can try to get money back by:

* registering a claim as a creditor - fill out the form with details of what you are owed and send it to the administrator dealing with the trader’s debts

* applying for a ‘Section 75 claim’ from your credit card provider if the item or work cost more than £100 and you paid with a credit card

* asking for ‘chargeback’ from your bank or card provider if you paid with a debit card - many bank staff don’t know about the scheme, so you may need to talk to a manager

When you register a claim as a creditor, you’re added to a list of all the people who the company owes money to. Other people, eg banks and employees will get paid first, so you might not get anything.

Faulty goods

If you’ve already got the item but it’s faulty, you can try to:

* use the guarantee or warranty which came with the item to get repairs or a replacement

* ask the administrator to get repairs or a replacement - there’s a small chance they’ll be able to help

If you paid for the items with your credit card or debit card you have the same rights if the goods are faulty as you would with the company going into administration.

For further help get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland