On May 25, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against the owners and operators of The Beach Waterpark in Mason, Ohio, charging the waterpark with failure to deliver.
The Beach Waterpark was a water amusement park that had operated in Mason for more than 27 years.
On March 9, The Beach announced that it would not reopen for the 2012 season, even though it had already sold about 8,800 passes for the season. After the announcement, hundreds of consumers filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office saying they wanted refunds.
In lieu of refunds, The Beach offered discounts and day passes to other local attractions such as Kings Island and the Cincinnati Zoo, but many consumers said they were not satisfied with these substitutions.
The Attorney General investigated the complaints and found that The Beach Waterpark’s offers were not adequate substitutions under Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, because they were not similar goods or services of equal or greater value and because consumers did not agree to the substitutions.
As a result, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit charging the waterpark’s owners and operators with violating the Failure to Deliver Rule under the Consumer Sales Practices Act. The Attorney General’s primary goal of the lawsuit is to recover money for consumers.
Unfortunately, when a business shuts down, it can be very difficult to recover money.
If a business shuts down before delivering the products or services you ordered, here’s what to do:
- Dispute credit card charges. If you paid using a credit card, dispute the charges with your credit provider. The back of your monthly credit card bill should have information on how to dispute charges. Under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, you are only liable for $50 of unauthorized charges. You must dispute the charges in writing within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed. If you paid with a debit card or if too much time has passed, your card issuer is not required to offer these protections, but you should try to dispute the charges anyway.
- Contact the corporate headquarters, if possible. If just one branch of a larger company shuts down, try to contact the corporate headquarters or another branch that is still in operation. Call them to discuss your issue and send a letter that clearly explains the problem and a reasonable resolution.
- Keep related documents. Be sure to save any documents related to the transaction, including receipts, purchase agreements, invoices, or contracts. Also keep track of any correspondence sent to or from the business. If the company files for bankruptcy, these documents may give you a better chance of receiving some money out of the bankruptcy action.
- File a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court. If the company files for bankruptcy, you will need to file a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court. A proof of claim tells the court that you are a “creditor” (which means that money may be due to you). It also helps to ensure that you will receive important updates about the bankruptcy. Be warned, however, that it’s often difficult for consumers to recover money after a company files for bankruptcy (or shuts down in general).
- File a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. If a business fails to deliver the products or services you ordered, file a complaint at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.