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Post date: June 22 2004

Retailer Of Teen Apparel Agrees To Redeem Gift Cards & Credits In Going-out-of-business Sale

Attorney General Spitzer today urged consumers who have valid gift certificates, gift cards and credit slips from New Weathervane Retail Corporation to begin redeeming them immediately. The retailer - which operates 10 stores across the state - recently commenced a bankruptcy liquidation sale.

"My office will continue to monitor bankruptcy proceedings to ensure that consumers' rights are adequately protected in liquidation sales," Spitzer said.

In negotiations with New Weathervane and the liquidation agent last week, Spitzer's office joined with the Attorneys General of New Hampshire, Michigan, Connecticut, and Massachusetts to demand better consumer protections in the liquidation sale such as the redemption of gift certificates and merchandise returns.

New Weathervane specializes in the sale of apparel and accessories for teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 19. The company filed for bankruptcy on June 3rd and commenced its court-ordered liquidation sale last Friday, June 18th.

As a result of the Attorney Generals' efforts, consumers will be able to redeem gift certificates and credit slips throughout the duration of the liquidation sale, which is scheduled to end on August 31st. Absent such an agreement, consumers would have been forced to file claims with the bankruptcy court.

During the first 30 days of the sale, New Weathervane's liquidator will accept the return of merchandise purchased prior to the beginning of the June 18th sale date, as long as: the item to be returned was purchased within 30 days of the return date; the consumer furnishes the original cash register receipt; the return is consistent with Weathervane's prior practices; and the consumer is not returning the item in order to re-purchase it at the sale price.

Merchandise purchased at the liquidation sale are "final sales" and cannot be returned, except for defective merchandise that cannot be used as intended.

Spitzer's office regularly monitors bankruptcy liquidation sales to safeguard the rights of consumers by ensuring that gift certificate and return policies are honored. In addition, in many of these liquidation cases, the Attorney General has required the liquidators to protect consumer personal information.

In the Weathervane case, the company cannot sell or abandon any computer or cash register unless all personal information of customers and employees has been deleted from the equipment. In addition, the Attorneys General maintained their right to enforce state laws related to the environment, consumer protection, public safety, health, and privacy under the states' "police powers."

Weathervane has retail stores in the following counties: Albany, Broome, Chemung, Dutchess, Onondaga, Orange, Schenectady, Suffolk, and Warren.

Spitzer's office has previously intervened successfully on behalf of consumers in a number of bankruptcy cases, including "The Wiz," K-Mart, Ames, the Museum Company, Quality Stores, Bob's Stores, Inc., FAO Schwartz, Zainy Brainy, KB Toys, Footstar, Woodworkers Warehouse, Inc. and Workbench Furniture, Inc.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Nancy Hershey Lord of the Civil Recoveries Bureau and Matthew Barbaro of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.