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This article was originally posted on CTVnews.ca
A warning to anyone who uses the websites TeamBuy.ca or DealFind.com. The vouchers you purchase may not be honoured.
CTV News has learned the parent company for TeamBuy and DealFind has filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving businesses at a loss.
That includes St. James Lanes.
Bowling slows down in the summer, so the manager used a group-buy website to try and get new customers rolling in.
He offered bowling and pizza deals on TeamBuy.Ca and DealFind.Com.
And customers have responded, redeeming dozens of vouchers.
The problem - the bowling alley never got its cut.
"It went online...and we haven't been paid a dime since it started," said manager Mike Devenney.
TeamBuy and DealFind's parent company, Couch Commerce, filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 29.
Merchants are now finding out they're not getting reimbursed for vouchers sold before then.
Still, the vouchers keep coming in. Devenney has continued to honour them.
"They've sold you a coupon under my name so I have to honour it. Well you don't have to, but you sort of have to if you want the goodwill of your business," he said.
He said he's lost nearly a thousand dollars already and it could be triple that if all of the vouchers are redeemed.
Holiday Mountain in La Riviere has a similar story.
The company lost money with its golf, lunch and zip line deal which expired this summer.
But not all of the vouchers sold have been redeemed.
The owner, Bernice Later, worries some customer may exercise their right to try to get face value for them.
"Do you honour them. Do you not honour them? You don't want to irritate customers, but we can't afford to be out of pocket for stuff and receive no money, our staff still needs to get paid" said Later.
CTV has obtained documents listing all of the companies owed more than $250.
It includes 44 Manitoba businesses. Their combined losses exceed $50,000.
More frustrating to some merchants is that the websites keep selling voucher, they say.
"I think it's ridiculous they're selling to new customers. New people are going in blind. New merchants are going in blind. How are they going to pay them, if they can't pay us?" asks Later.
MNP is handling the account for Couch Commerce.
Senior Vice President Jerry Henechowicz said TeamBuy.ca or DealFind.com have not posted anything on their websites to inform customers because Couch Commerce has taken steps to ensure all sales after Aug. 29 will be covered.
Still, some merchants whose deals remain on the site urge customers not to buy them. The owner of Penguin Heating and Cooling urges customers to call him directly instead to get the deal.
Couch Commerce's outstanding balance to creditors, most of which are based in North America, totals nearly $11 million.
MNP's Henechowicz said there's a chance merchants will get some of their money back.
American company, nCrowd, will find out in court next week if it can buy Couch Commerce to keep it afloat.
If that happens, the company would present a proposal offering everyone they owe the chance to get a certain percentage of their money.
Creditors would get to vote on the proposal. If they don't like the deal, Henechowicz said the company will go bankrupt.
He said people who bought vouchers that merchants can't honour won't get their money back either, because the company's assets are frozen right now.
Related Topics:MNP Ltd.
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