Fury has erupted after a big Market Harborough furniture store suddenly warned it’s closing down – leaving up to 400 customers shell-shocked.
The Furniture Loft on the Riverside industrial estate emailed customers out of the blue last Friday (June 17) to announce they are ceasing to trade and couldn’t fulfil their order.
The business, which opened six years ago, told shoppers to claim back any money they’d already handed over from their card provider.
But the news has sparked uproar – and could leave scores of people out of pocket.
Angry customers from Market Harborough as well as across the area have been contacting the Harborough Mail to blast Furniture Loft owner Richard Kimbell, 75.
One woman told us that she’d forked out £988 deposit for a beige two-seater settee, two chairs and a footstool on January 21.
“This is absolutely outrageous.
“I’m fighting to get my money back and I know that I won’t get my furniture.
“The whole thing has been handled very badly and the people who run this store should be ashamed of the way they’ve treated honest people like me,” said the Market Harborough woman who asked not to be named.
“My order added up to £1,976.
“That’s a lot of money.
“People are saying that they ordered stuff from this lot just three weeks ago.
“Well surely the owners must have known then that they were folding?
“The Furniture Loft sent out letters to customers in March saying they were staging a huge sale as they were closing their showroom and going online.
“I thought that was very odd at the time.
“I called in to the store on June 13 to ask where my furniture had got to after becoming sick of waiting.
“A lady there told me it would be ready by July 11.
“Just four days later I got an email from them telling me they were ceasing trading!
“It’s unbelievable and totally unacceptable,” said the woman.
“It’s very upsetting.
“I suspect that hundreds of people like me have been kept in the dark and fobbed off.
“The Furniture Loft is a major local business – and are supposed to be responsible too.
“But the way they have treated loads of loyal customers like me is not on – and it’s left a very bad taste in my mouth.”
A Desborough man said he paid £400 on March 17 for four chairs.
“I shelled out the full price.
“I went in one day last week – and they promised me that I’d get the chairs,” said the fuming dad.
“Now they’ve closed and I won’t get my money back or the chairs.
“I think they knew full well back in March that they were in trouble when they held the big sale.
“It’s just terrible that in these tough times when ordinary people like me are struggling to make ends meet and every penny counts we are let down so badly.”
Another customer told us: “The people who run the Furniture Loft care little about their customers or their staff who must get daily abuse built on these people’s actions.
“The company continued to take money off customers for orders and must have been fully aware they would not be able to fulfil them because they faced going into liquidation.”One man said he faces losing up to £2,500 as the Furniture Loft collapses.
“They are leaving so many people to struggle to get their hard-earned money back - especially those who have paid in cash.
“The Furniture Loft is causing so much distress and financial hardship to local people,” he said.
“I stand to lose £2,500 – that’s a lot of money.
“From dealing with this company myself I’ve found they have no respect or regard for their customers.
“It is absolutely disgusting and it’s high time that this sort of practice was stopped to protect innocent customers.”
And a woman also got in touch with the Mail to let off steam: “We ordered and paid 50 per cent of the cost of a table and six chairs at the end of October.
“We have been chasing them frequently ever since and have been informed of various delivery periods.
“The last promise was to deliver the goods (all of which they then said was in stock now) in the week beginning June 5.
“No date could be given beyond that.
“We subsequently cancelled the order, writing to Mr Kimbell himself,” she said.
“No response from him has been made.
“From various reviews now online, our experience is not an isolated one.
“I thought that the people of Market Harborough should be aware of this given that the shop is still ‘open for business’ when you access their website!”
The Furniture Loft emailed customers on Friday June 17 to tell them: “It is with a heavy heart that we notify you that Furniture Loft is ceasing to trade and cannot fulfil your order.
“We ask that you contact your card provider to discuss raising a chargeback claim of any previously paid funds – please see below link which might be helpful to you:
“We also wanted to notify you that indigohomeinteriors.co.uk is offering to take on all existing Buoyant orders affected which would mean your order would not lose its position within the Buoyant manufacturing schedule should you wish to place an order with them.
“If you would like to keep your position within the Buoyant manufacturing schedule and place an order through Indigo Home Interiors please reply to this email and we will pass the information over to them and they will be in contact with you soon – alternatively your existing order will be cancelled with Buoyant.
“We would like to thank you for your support and custom over the years and look forward to receiving your instructions in due course.”
Replying to an incensed shopper on June 17, staff told them: “Please accept our apologies.
“Whilst we completely understand and empathise with your frustrations, please note we employees are also upset as we are all being made redundant and losing our jobs, and we are doing our absolute upmost to contact each and every customer affected as quickly as possible.
“We were only given this information (closing down) yesterday of which we notified you as soon as possible - any information given previously would have been true at the time of notification.
“We currently do not have control over any funds which is why we ask that you contact your card provider to discuss raising a chargeback claim of any previously paid funds – please see below link which might be helpful to you:
“With regards to Indigo Home Interiors our secretary at Furniture loft is only an employee here (not a director) but is the sole director of Indigo Home Interiors which is a completely separate company to Furniture Loft entirely and they are offering to take on any affected orders so customers do not lose their place within the manufacturers schedule. “This is an option they have offered and it is entirely your choice should you wish to take up their offer.”