GEDIMAN’S APPLIANCE in Bath and Lewiston abruptly closed, leaving a number of customers who had prepaid for appliances without their money or merchandise.

GEDIMAN’S APPLIANCE in Bath and Lewiston abruptly closed, leaving a number of customers who had prepaid for appliances without their money or merchandise.

BATH

The attorney representing the owners of Gediman’s Appliance in Bath and Lewiston says it has yet to be determined if they will file for personal bankruptcy.

The stores closed suddenly in September, leaving a number customers upset who had paid in advance — some thousands of dollars — for unfulfilled orders. The state Attorney General’s Office received complaints from 57 customers according to a spokesman, the Bangor Daily News reported in December. Online bidding for store appliances started last week and continues until Feb. 2.

Auburn attorney Lenny Sharon represents Peter and Serrene Gagnon who, according to online city assessing records, purchased the retail store at 67 Centre St. in Bath in June 2005.

“At present the secured creditors are in the process of auctioning off some of the assets,” Sharon said in an email response to The Time Record Wednesday when asked if or when Gediman’s Appliance plans file for bankruptcy. “Once the secured creditors are able to pay themselves off, the customers or unsatisfied customers will have access to the pool of funds remaining. Therefore, there is no reason for the company to go into Bankruptcy.

“The company does not intend to open again and the resolution of unsatisfied obligations by the secured creditors obtains the same result as a bankruptcy would as far as creditors are concerned,” Sharon added.

Her office received several complaints but Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti couldn’t comment Tuesday on whether or not an investigation is underway by her office, because she can’t comment on ongoing investigations. If her office were to take public action, details of any investigation would then become public.

Sharon didn’t address the question posed to him either about the existence of an investigation involving his client and Gediman’s Appliance.

“I do understand the feeling of customers that my client took their money and did not provide the product and thus stole their money,” Sharon said. “That is not an uncommon reaction to the failure of a business to honor their obligations for prepaid services. However, the legal definition of theft requires that my client when he took the money INTENDED not to supply the item paid for, and had no intent to do so. Rather, his only intent was to take the money he was not entitled to.

“The facts here could not be further from the truth,” he added. “The Gagnon family literally worked themselves sick trying to keep the businesses running. Mr. Gagnon time and time again dunned banks about securing another loan.”

An economy fueled by big box stores selling appliances combined with the lack of funding, Sharon said, “conspired to cause Gediman’s to be closed down.”

“My client sorely wishes it could be otherwise,” he said.

Conti said businesses go out of business and fail everyday, and customers lose money. Conti advised customers who have paid with credit card to dispute purchases with their credit card company — which must be done within in certain timeframe following the purchase.

Police don’t look at this kind of occurrence as a theft, Conti acknowledged and said it is a breach of contract, which is enforceable in small claims court. She advised that consumers looking at this avenue should probably get an attorney.

Conti said once your money is gone, it’s gone.

“It’s not like I have the answer and if only I was to do something, I would be able to get their money back,” she said.

In fact, it would be no easier for her to get the funds back than it is for the customers — her office would have the same recourse as consumers: Sue in court and pursue collection action.

“You’ve got to pay by credit card or you have to be very, very careful about paying in cash in advance,” Conti said.

Whatever reason a business may give customers for advance cash payments, it’s often a sign they have cash flow problems.

The consumer protection division hotline number is (800) 436-2131 or it can be reached by email at [email protected]

Online bidding for store appliances began last Friday, Jan. 16, through Keenan Auction, and continues until 1 p.m. Feb. 2. According to Keenan Auction, there are more than 275 new brand name appliances including refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and stoves, washers and dryers, hood systems, microwave ovens and dehumidifiers. Items must be removed by Feb. 3.

A preview of the merchandise is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 30, at the Bath store at 67 Centre St., and 1-2 p.m. at the former Lewiston store at 1822 Lisbon Road.

ONLINE BIDDING for store appliances began last Friday, Jan. 16, through Keenan Auction, and continues until 1 p.m. Feb. 2.

A PREVIEW of the merchandise is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 30, at the Bath store at 67 Centre St., and 1-2 p.m. at the former Lewiston store at 1822 Lisbon Road.


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