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TROUBLESHOOTERS: What to know before investing in a company

More often than not a company will ask you for a down payment, but what if the owner files for bankruptcy before the job is done?

Patrick Moore said he’s in this situation.

He’s lived in Peoria Heights for 20 years.

“Why I moved to the Heights I’ll never know, but it was the best decision I ever made,” said Moore.

He added he loves the neighborhood and the fact that the Heights continues to grow, but he’s missing a car port.

He found Peoria Awning and put down a deposit of $1,931.00 on July 7th, 2018.

“I was feeling confident because they’ve been in Peoria for so long. It’s a very well known name around town.”

Moore said crews came out to measure and he hasn’t heard anything since.

Whenever he’s tried to call, it never goes through.

Heart of Illinois ABC went to the address in the 89 hundred block of North Pioneer Road.

A sign was on the door that read, “Central Illinois Awning moved to a different location.”

Heart of Illinois ABC went to the address that was listed below over on Southwest Washington.

The owner of Central Illinois Awning said his business is not associated with Peoria Awning and the owner of Peoria Awning filed for bankruptcy.

A copy of the filing stated Mark Hutchison filed for Chapter 7.

He estimated he owed up to 49 creditors and doesn’t have the money to pay them back.

“Ripped off, foolish. You know it’s not something that happens very often, but when you have a couple thousand dollars invested in something…I’m just a small business person. I can’t afford to be doing that very much,” added Moore.

Moore has a copy of the contract and check.

He said he’s thought about taking legal action.

Peoria lawyer Harry Williams said when bankruptcy happens customers usually don’t get their money back.

“That throws the consumer into chaos basically. A situation where now the bankruptcy laws govern everything,” said Harry Williams.

Williams said bankruptcy usually happens over time.

So what should you be aware of before handing over a down payment?

Williams added anyone looking to invest in a local company should always do 2 things first.

  1. Research ahead of time

Go to Google and enter the company name, then read the reviews.

Check with the Better Business Bureau and Yelp.

2. Ask the company to provide you with proof of current insurance

“If they’re paying their insurance premiums and they have proof of current insurance that’s some indication that they have money to spend on insurance and that they’re still legitimate,” added Williams.

Williams said this is especially important if a company has been in business for awhile.

“Those are the companies to me that you need to be more careful of because now they’re in their 3rd or 4th generation of family that are owning it. That doesn’t mean those guys are running the business well, and they’re probably not in tune with current business practice.”

As for Moore, he said he would’ve appreciated knowing the company was going out of business.

Williams said owners are not required to inform customers they’re in the red.

The owner of Central Illinois Awning said he bought the liquid assets from Peoria Awning, meaning the equipment.

Williams explained there are a few options a consumer has when a company files bankruptcy, but it depends on the situation.


Jessica Cook

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