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Boston Apparel, Chadwicks a big problem for consumers before and after bankruptcy

Posted by Mitch Lipka  January 16, 2012 04:00 PM

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When it comes to complaints from consumers, the Better Business Bureau certainly gets more than an earful. Just the 100 most complained-about businesses in the organization’s Boston region (Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island) collected nearly 7,800 formal complaints in 2011.

None pulled in more than Women’s Apparel Group (aka Boston Apparel), which ran the Chadwicks of Boston catalog, among other brands. The main reason for its 671 complaints last year? The company went bankrupt.

Dealing with a bankrupt company can be incredibly frustrating. Some companies that reorganize under bankruptcy protection try to preserve relationships with consumers along the way. This one did not.

Better Business Bureau vice president Paula Fleming said consumers should file complaints with her organization and claims with the bankruptcy court when a company they’re dealing with seeks protection from its creditors.

“Even if a business has filed for bankruptcy, in addition to filing a claim with the court, file a BBB complaint,” Fleming said. “It’s good to have your issues documented should a law enforcement agency ever get involved and go after a business owner.”

Meanwhile, complaints continue against the apparel retailer even after new management – the Maryland investment firm Blackstreet Capital – bought the long-established brand out of bankruptcy in September. Blackstreet now operates the company under the name Distinctive Apparel.

Don Meyer, a spokesman for Blackstreet, blamed the problems consumers experienced on the last owners.

“Due to mismanagement by prior ownership, Boston Apparel Group filed bankruptcy in June 2011. The prior ownership group…did not honor customer purchases,” he said in a statement. “Customers who made purchases following the acquisition of the assets by an entity affiliated with Blackstreet Capital can fully expect the new company to honor their return requests.

“In the meantime, we are pleased to have been able to save two venerable brands, Chadwicks of Boston and Metrostyle, and to preserve a number of local jobs during challenging economic times,” Meyer said.

Hopefully, the new incarnation of the company will be far better than the last. In the meantime, don’t underestimate the power of complaining. If you have a problem, raise your voice. You speak not only for yourself, but for fellow consumers, too.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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