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Assurz Folds--Are Customers Stuck?

A company offering a "satisfaction guarantee" for major online retailers is going bankrupt; Steve Bass has details on what to do.
July 29, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/196760

If you've ever done business with Assurz, you're out of luck. They're kaput. Assurz is the company that offered a guarantee if you had trouble with a product. Read "TigerDirect Offers Assurz's 90-Day "Satisfaction Guarantee" for the back story. Also read "Easy Product Returns--at an Extra Cost?"

According to Internet Retailer, the company didn't give participating companies--and definitely not consumers--much notice:

"In its May 30 e-mail notice to eImprovement [a participating Assurz retailer], Assurz, citing a contract stipulation that lets it discontinue service with a three-day notice, said it would terminate its service as of June 2 because 'your refund rate has been consistently greater than fees we have received for the services, leading to cumulative net losses from refund payouts by Assurz.'"

In July, Assurz declared bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The reaction from consumers was, no surprise here, that of dismay, anger, and outrage.

Filing a Claim
According to Bankrate:

"As a creditor, what you can do is file a proof of claim. This is your legal statement that the business owes you money. The administrator in charge of the Chapter 11 case (called a trustee) will determine whether it is possible for you to be paid. Do it soon as there is a deadline for filing.

"If the company is paying back all its obligations through the Chapter 11, then you would get paid eventually. If they are not paying back everyone, then there's a line that forms. Secured creditors go first (those who loaned the company start-up capital for equipment or real estate), then the government (in case the company owes corporate and employment taxes), then unsecured creditors such as yourself."

The Bankruptcy Law Network has more information. Get a PDF copy of the claims form and read the instructions.

The first meeting of creditors is scheduled for July 30 in the San Francisco office of the trustee for the case, Janina Elder. The case number is 08-31101. The last day for filing claims against Assurz is October 28, 2008. The sooner you get your claim filed, the better.

For more information about filing a claim, write to:

Janina Elder
PO Box 158
Middletown CA 95461

Bass Disclaimer: I consulted my attorney, Bernie, from the law offices of Dewey, Fleecem & Howe, and he strongly urged you to view my suggestions for filing a claim as just that--ideas to consider. "These are simply recommendations," he said, charging me by the minute, "and for real legal advice, chat with an attorney."

TigerDirect Does the Right Thing
I fired off an e-mail to TigerDirect, asking for a comment about the Assurz bankruptcy.

A TigerDirect representative responded promptly, saying, in essence, that TigerDirect is taking over any Assurz claims. My sense is that the company was as duped as anyone else. In an e-mail interview, Gilbert Fiorentino, TigerDirect's CEO, said, "instead of saying 'too bad, file a bankruptcy claim,' we decided to make it right." The company said they've spent about $400,000 to resolve outstanding claims.

TigerDirect (which also owns CompUSA) had the Assurz phone number (877/277-8797) routed directly to them. Call the number if you need help getting an Assurz refund. However, if you're having a specific problem that's not been resolved, or you think you're getting the runaround, let me know and I'll forward your issue to someone with clout.

Here are some of the details that the TigerDirect rep gave me. I've edited this slightly for space.

When we became aware that Assurz was having difficulties, we immediately refunded the Assurz fee to any TigerDirect or CompUSA customer who purchased an Assurz policy within the preceding 30 days. We explained that they could return their products to us.
We obtained the Assurz list of customers whose returns were received, but for whom checks were not yet sent, and issued refunds.
As we became aware of checks issued by Assurz to customers that were returned for insufficient funds, we issued refunds.
If you purchased an Assurz policy between 31 and 90 days prior to TigerDirect finding out that Assurz was experiencing difficulty, TigerDirect will honor the 90-day satisfaction guarantee.
If you've had an Assurz problem, please take my poll.

This Week's Roundup of Time Wasters
I've been watching Madame President pushing Cylons out the airlock and into outer space (come on--Battlestar Galactica!), and I wonder how long they'd survive. My friend Jack K. had the same question. It's answered at How Long Could You Survive in the Vacuum of Space?

Watch as a bank camera from the First State Bank in Parkersburg, Iowa, captures footage of a deadly tornado ripping through the bank. [Thanks, Christopher N.]

It'sYourTurn.com has a long, long list of board games--chess, backgammon, Othello, and more. You'll need to register in order to play.

Who left the screen door open? Swat as many flies as you can.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from Amazon.com. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.