Rival firm EZ Living helps Northern Ireland shoppers who lost deposits when furniture store shut
Customers who have lost thousands in the World of Furniture NI fiasco could be in luck as another Belfast firm has come to the rescue.
Gavin White, who runs EZ Living, an Irish furniture firm which opened in Belfast last month, said he was worried the situation would put shoppers off buying from local furniture firms and wanted to help.
He said: "We heard about customers caught with lost deposits from World Of Furniture NI and we are willing to accept their deposits on new sales in EZ Living and we will credit a lost deposit as a discount up to a maximum of 30% off a new purchase in EZ Living.
"It's not good for the furniture trade to have a retailer close down as it turns people off dealing with furniture stores.
"We want to make sure people know the rest of us in the trade won't let them down." Many of the World of Furniture NI customers said they had been asked to pay large deposits in cash as they were told the company's card machines were out of order.
Among them was Samantha Blaine who said she was now "scared" to put large deposits down again.
The Saintfield woman lost £250 when the store closed its doors unexpectedly. "As a single mother who has to stay at home to look after my sick daughter, I really struggled to save for that deposit," she said.
"I had already got rid of my old sofa as I was told the new one would be delivered so I was left without one over Christmas.
"It's been a 14-week ordeal for me and I'm scared to pay in cash again." Company directors appeared in Belfast's High Court yesterday where the business was handed a winding down order.
Nicola Barker, a childminder from Lisburn, said staff at the store laughed and told her "not to believe everything you read on Facebook" when she heard the store was closing the day before.
But she said she had a "bad feeling about the whole thing" and sent her husband Jonny down to the store to ask for their money back.
He was eventually given back £680, but was told he would have to wait 14 days for the £400 he paid by card.
Mrs Barker added: "You always try to support your local retailers but sometimes you've got to wonder why.
"When it comes to big purchases I'll only buy from the big companies from now on."
The Department of Finance and Personnel initiated court proceedings after the company failed to pay its rates bill.
The Official Receiver is currently handling the liquidation.