After closing without warning around Feb. 6, an Ocean View appliance store mid-week was preparing for a possible re-opening next week, while police in the intervening time had opened an investigation after complaints from some customers who’d been left out in the cold, without any explanation.
Coastal Maytag owner Karen Clark on Wednesday provided a statement to the Coastal Point clarifying the planned path forward for the business.
“Coastal Maytag has been temporarily closed. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this has caused,” the statement read. “The assets of Coastal Maytag are under contract to a well-known local family who have lived here their lifetime.
“As part of the sales agreement, the new owners will honor all prior sales which have not been delivered or cancelled. They will personally contact each of those clients by phone as soon as they have obtained ownership,” the statement continued.
“Details of the purchase are expected to be finalized by the end of the week. The new owners will make an announcement regarding reopening as soon as the purchase is finalized. The tentative reopen is planned for the end of next week. We would like to thank everyone for their patience and past patronage over the last six years.”
Resolution of the issues that shuttered the business appears to have started sometime on Feb. 18.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the store’s answering machine said, “Thank you for calling Coastal Maytag. We are temporarily closed and hope to reopen within the next week. Please leave a message. Thank you for calling. And if this is a warranty issues, please contact your manufacturer.”
That’s a change from Feb. 18, when the answering machine said, “This is Coastal Maytag. We are closed for business. If you have a warranty, please contact the manufacturer. We are working to provide refunds to all customers.”
Whatever happened behind the scenes with the business has impacted customers, who weren’t getting deliveries or a response to their phone calls. There have also been allegations of customers’ credit cards being double-charged.
Karen and Stanley Clark have managed the appliance shop with their daughter since October of 2013. Karen Clark is the official owner. They sell and repair Whirlpool, Maytag, Kitchen Aid and Amana appliances.
Customers wait for answers,
While the sudden closure got the Delaware State Police investigating, the Coastal Maytag store hadn’t been completely abandoned, leaving customers to speculate as to what may have gone wrong and whether the business would ever re-open.
“Customers have purchased items with the expected delivery, and Maytag has not fulfilled the purchase requirements,” which is the basis for some police complaints, M.Cpl. Melissa Jaffe, public information officer for the DSP, told the Coastal Point early this week.
As of Monday, the Delaware State Police had received five complaints, which started in late January or early February, according to Jaffe.
“Delaware State Police Financial Crimes Unit is currently investigating complaints that were made against Coastal Maytag,” said Jaffe. “We have a total of five. Right now, our Financial Crimes Unit is working with the owner at this point to sort through all the logistics.”
Anyone with questions about the investigation or information relevant to it can contact Troop 4’s Detective McCabe in the Financial Crimes Unit at (302) 856-5850. There had been no charges filed or arrests made as of Feb. 18.
Customer complaints have included non-delivery of purchased goods and potential credit-card fraud, or people’s cards being charged multiple times.
“It is both — people not receiving the items that they purchased, and it is reported they have been double-charged or overcharged,” Jaffe said.
Customer John Barnard is just one of many people who purchased an appliance but then panicked when he only heard silence from the store.
In January, he bought a $2,900 oven that the shop was to hold until Barnard finished building his house (work that hasn’t even begun yet). When he tried telephoning the shop in early February, the voice-mailboxes were full.
“There’s a lot of money involved. I’m just the tip of it,” said Barnard, who added that he had heard of people who had spent more than $10,000 in appliance purchases that hadn’t been resolved.
After first hearing about the problem on Tuesday, Feb. 12, he visited the unoccupied shop on Thursday, Feb. 14. He said a sign (since removed) read “closed due to family emergency,” but the Facebook page for Coastal Maytag said “permanently closed.”
Employees who weren’t notified of the closure are allowed to contact the Department of Labor, which handles workplace justice. If they are due wages, they should contact the Division of Industrial Affairs Labor Law at (302) 761-8200 or, for unemployment funds, contact Unemployment Insurance at https://ui.delawareworks.com.
Coastal Maytag is located at 30459 Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View. For more information, call (302) 537-2688 or visit www.coastalmaytag.com.
Coastal Point will continue its coverage of this story when the business’ new owners are announced and the business re-opens.
By Laura Walter and M. Patricia Titus