Layaway Customer At Closing Ohio Kmart Told To Pay Up Before Store Closes

store_ClosingKmart started its Christmas-themed advertising back at the beginning of September, with an ad promoting its layaway program. Only after the holiday layaway season kicked off, Kmart announced a fresh round of store closings. This included two stores in Ohio, which have told customers that they have to pay off their layaway accounts by November 1st. UPDATE: The deadline may indeed not be November 1st.

Discount stores have revived layaway in recent years, a service that helps customers spread out their holiday gift purchase payments over a few months, avoiding credit card use and keeping gifts stored away from sneaky family members. The system works for a lot of American families…except for when stores start new layaway plans, then decide to close before the holidays.

“It’s terribly wrong for them to not have anything in place to give us more time,” one customer with $1,000 worth of merchandise put on layaway for Christmas told TV station WDTN. “I asked them to transfer my layaway to another K-Mart. I would drive to another town.” Her payments for the items put on layaway will double thanks to the compressed timeline. Kmart has told her that if she can’t pay off the items, she’ll get a refund and Kmart will graciously not charge her a cancellation fee for the problem that they caused. She would have been happy to transfer her plan and her purchases to a different Kmart store, but no one at Kmart is able to make that happen.

WDTN contacted Kmart to ask whether they have any provisions in place for customers who have already started their holiday layaway plans at a store slated to close. The company hadn’t yet responded when they aired the story.

UPDATE: A Sears Holdings spokesperson contacted Consumerist and clarified some of the issues in this story: perhaps the employees in this local store hadn’t yet been told what was supposed to happen to layaway contracts when a store closes. Most layaway contracts are 8 weeks long. While they market the service for the winter holiday season, layaway is available year-round.

When a store closes, transferring the layaway contract to a different store or to the Kmart website if there are no remaining Kmart stores nearby are both options. (Maybe someone should tell the employees at these two stores in Ohio.)

Customers also have the option of receiving a refund for the amount they’ve already paid on the contract.

K-Mart closings mean upset layaway customers [WDTN]

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