In Your Corner: Vanishing Restaurant

By Ryan Elijah

August 24, 2012 Updated Aug 24, 2012 at 6:41 PM EST

It's the sign that no consumer wants to see, announcing the closing of a business, many times with no warning.

"I bought him a gift care and 5 days later, they're closed", said Jackie Smith.

Jackie and Sally Smith decided to do something special for their son on his birthday so they bought him a $50 gift card to one of his favorite restaurants, the Exotic Thai in the Marketplace of Canterbury, when his son tried to use it just a few days later, the business was closed.

"when I bought it from the woman at the restaurant, I feel she should have told me they were going out of business", said Smith.

The Exotic Thai restaurant was open for only a few months and there's not a lease sign posted because we're told the owners are still paying rent on a long term lease.

From tanning salons to pool supply stores, this area has seen its share of abrupt closings, often times leaving customers like the Smith's with useless gift cards. This one is unique in that the restaurant has been closed for two months and there's still not a sign announcing it's closed.

We've also seen a number of companies close and file for bankruptcy protection. In those cases the consumer does drop to the back of the line when it comes to outstanding debts, but Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller told us Surety Bonds are becoming more common and offer some protection for consumers.

Consumers can also file a claim online with the Attorney General's office and if the loss is big enough, a lawsuit might make sense.

One day after we interviewed them, the Smith's disputed their charge with Visa. The company not only returned the $50 but also vowed to review any other recent charges. The Smith's were just one day shy of the 90-day limit to dispute a charge.

"the next time, I'll just take him out to eat", said Jackie.

We did find two other Exotic Thai restaurants in Indiana, but both told us they're not affiliated with the closed Fort Wayne restaurant bearing the same name. In the Fort Wayne area, Vince's, O'Charley's (Lima Road) and Hooter's have all closed in the past few months with no notice to customers. O'Charley's does still have a south location which will accept all gift cards from the closed Lima Road store.




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