Anger as shutters come down at furniture store

ANGRY customers are demanding answers after the shutters came down on a Wearside-based furniture chain.

The Echo has taken a flood of calls from people who have handed over cash to the Lloyds Furniture store, based in Fawcett Street, Sunderland.

But with the city centre store shut-up, customers attempts to find out what has happened, who is responsible for outstanding orders, and how they can go about trying to get their money back, has hit a dead end.

The company website is out of action at the moment and phone lines are going unanswered.

A website lists a series of customers' complaints about the business.

There are no notices posted outside the shop to inform people what is happening.

Mavis Lindsay, 73, of Brackenwood Grove, Tunstall, told the Echo that she was still awaiting delivery of two lamps she ordered on July 3.

She said an assistant at the Sunderland store had phoned in September saying the standard lamp and table lamp were due in the following week, but she and her husband Allan, 75, are still waiting.

Mrs Lindsay said they had ordered a display unit but the glass doors fell off while it was being delivered so it had been taken back.

She paid more that 700 for the unit and lamps but a replacement display unit never arrived.

Mrs Lindsay said: "I feel frustrated, absolutely. I think it's shocking."

The grandmother-of-two said they had been backwards and forwards to the Fawcett Street shop over the last few months, but when they went last week the shutters were down.

Nobody could be contacted at the company, an experience shared by dissatisfied customer who have posted their opinions online.

Last Thursday, one customer wrote: "Today, I drove a six-hour round trip to the store in Sunderland to try to get my refund for the damaged, returned bookcase.

"On my arrival I found the Sunderland store closed with all the shutters down.

"I then drove to the Stockton store to be greeted by the same sight.

"I have spoken to Companies House and although they are showing the company as still being active they say it will take a couple of weeks for the details to be updated."

The company's website was still operating late on Friday afternoon but is now off-line.

The Stockton store was apparently trading on Friday, though its phone line was permanently engaged yesterday.

Manager of the Portrack Lane store Chris Bernard said the stores had closed for two days for an external audit, and added: "Our warehouse is getting in touch with people to rearrange deliveries."

A spokeswoman for the firm's accountants, Darlington-based Mitchell Gordon Ltd, said she believed the firm was trading as usual.

PENSIONERS Wendy and Brian Burlinson paid 195 for a table and chairs from Lloyds Furniture.

"That was in the sale six weeks ago and they said it would take four to six weeks," said Wendy, of Southwick.

"When I went over on Monday to find out what was happening, it was closed.

"We have heard nothing from them at all."

The 65-year-old couple are now trying to find out what has become of their cash.

"There is nothing at all up at the store to tell you what is happening," she said.

"We went over on Tuesday and the door was open a little bit so we rattled the shutters but nobody came out.

"We phoned from outside the store but there was still no answer and there have been no lights on in there since.

"We have been lucky it was only a small amount, but it is still something we can't afford to lose."