A PENSIONER, a single mum and a disabled woman have lost thousands of pounds after a Sunderland furniture store unexpectedly shut up shop.
The Echo is aware of at least a handful of people affected by the closure of Furniture World in the last couple of weeks.
All those affected had either paid cash deposits or in full for furniture that had yet to be collected or delivered.
When they turned up at the Fawcett Street store to either collect their goods or query why they had not been delivered they had a shock.
Annie Alcock, 86, said she scrimped and saved her pension for months to a buy a black leather two-seater sofa and paid two deposits of £100 each towards the £399 piece.
But when the widow, who lives near Park Lane, returned to pay the balance she found the shop abandoned.
“I just felt deflated,” Mrs Alcock told the Echo. “It took me two months to save the money and that’s all my savings gone. There was nothing in there, no furniture, nothing.”
The great-grandmother-of-seven said she met another elderly customer outside the shop, who told her she had been left out of pocket after paying about £500. She contacted police but was told that, unless the shop owners can be traced, there is not much they can do to help.
Mrs Alcock, who worked as a shop assistant until she retired, is now worried that even more of the store’s customers could be affected.
She added: “I was absolutely devastated at first, but I have now accepted that I have lost the money. I’m just grateful that I didn’t pay the other £199.”
The Echo has tried to contact Furniture World, using a mobile phone number on Mrs Alcock’s receipt, but the number is unobtainable.
Marsha Newby, 34, who lives with son Arron, 10, in Pennywell, paid in full for wardrobes, bedside tables, a chest of drawers and a mirror.
The unemployed mum got a loan from her credit union to cover the £700 cost and was told by the owner that she was told she had to pay in cash.
“The shop’s gone, and there are for let signs up,” she said. “We are sitting with no wardrobes and I’m £700 down and having to make fortnightly payments. I have nowhere to put my clothes. My house is upside down.”
Another victim, a disabled 58-year-old, who does not want to be named as she does not want her family to find out, paid £1,400 in cash for four sofas – two for her and two for her sister.
“I’m disabled and he knew that,” she told the Echo. “I had my other sofas taken away so I now have nothing to sit on and my savings have diminished. I have spoken to a solicitor, but is going to cost £500 to £700 . Nobody is able to help.”
A spokeswoman from Northumbria Police said: “This is a civil matter and proceedings should be pursued through the civil courts. Anyone with concerns can contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for city services, said: “The City Council’s trading standards team is aware that the business known as Furniture World appears to have ceased trading from its shop in Fawcett Street.
“Any consumer who has concerns about their dealings with the business may contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040 506 for advice.”