KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville woman is frustrated after she purchased a safe and paid it in full but it never arrived. The company she bought it from has declared bankruptcy.
Diana, who chose not to share her last name, bought the safe in April 2022 and continued to receive information from the store manager to be “patient,” only to get a letter that the business is now liquidating its assets.
WATE’s Don Dare first looked into the closing of the Spartan Safe store last month. He now has a follow-up.
Hundreds of customers across the country will probably lose thousands of dollars as Spartan Safe has filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. The filing caught a lot of customers at the Knoxville store by surprise. For months, they believed since they had paid in full, their order would be delivered.
That is what they had been told over and over again. Unfortunately, chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy generally protects creditors and loan companies first, leaving little to nothing for customers.
Diana showed Dare the exact spot in her bedroom where she planned to place her 5-foot-high safe to keep important papers. She wanted a gray-colored Liberty Safe, which came with security and fire protection features that were perfect for her needs. She bought it at the Spartan Safe store in West Knoxville.
Diana said the showroom was full in April when she made the purchase. The manager required her $2,300 payment in advance, she wrote a check.
“He said it would be about eight to 10 weeks until delivery time,” Diana said.
The invoice included that there would be delays in manufacturing and freight. Diana told Dare she was expecting the safe in August, but it did not arrive. So, she called Spartan’s manager around the first of September and asked why was there a delay.
“These are going all over the U.S.A. and a lot of people have ordered them, just be patient and I will get it. He didn’t say when,” Diana said.
Just before Thanksgiving, the store was closed. However, Diana didn’t know that. There was a note taped on the front door: “Visit SpartanSafe.com to start your refund.”
She was also unaware the company, Chadley Management, that owns the store had gone out of business and they filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. She soon received a letter telling her about the bankruptcy.
“I was shocked, I really was. I have a lot of trust in people and what they do for work and I am very, very upset about it,” Diana said.
“My husband said this was one of the only safe stores he could find. So, we went with that one,” Kaylee Stidham said.
Last month, Dare reported Stidham and her husband ordered a Centurion safe in late June and paid a thousand dollars upfront to get it. Like Diana, Stidham waited for months. She was told her safe was ordered and would arrive soon.
Suspicious, she called the manufacturer, Liberty Safe, and asked about her order from Knoxville’s Spartan Safe store.
“I talked to several people at Liberty. She said she could ‘see my name in the system but the funds never got released.’ So Spartan held my funds and never even ordered the safe through Liberty,” Stidham said.
Diana believes what happened to her and others is wrong after the company demanded full payment but it never came. She has until March 21 to file a claim against Chadley Management’s bankruptcy proceedings in North Carolina and maybe get a little money back for the safe that never arrived.
“If I was a business person, I would have been right up front with people and said what is really going on and I’d give you your money back. What did they do with the money, that’s what I would like to know,” Diana said.
Court filings show Spartan Safe lost a million and a half dollars over the past two years. Dianna is not the only customer who has lost money. Hundreds of other names show up in the bankruptcy document and most will likely file claims. Court records show Chadley Management owes over $20 million.
Despite the odds against customers, it is important for them to file a claim.