Advice Column: Traders Going Bust

Thursday 21st March 2024

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on when a trader goes bust.


I ordered a watch online with personalised engraving for my partner’s upcoming 40th birthday. The company has since gone out of business. I keep phoning and emailing them but can’t get through to anyone. I’m assuming they can’t fulfil my order, but I’d paid for the watch upfront and can’t afford to buy another gift until I get my money back, please help?

I understand the frustration you must be feeling – especially as you’ve already parted with your money and presumably spent time searching for a suitable gift for your partner’s special birthday. I assume you haven’t had a dispatch note yet, which suggests the order isn’t on its way.

If the company’s gone into administration, it may still be able to fulfil outstanding orders, but if the company is already in liquidation, you’ll need to try to get your money back. If you’re unsure about what state the company is in, the Citizens Advice website has information on how to find out.

As the company hasn’t responded to your calls or emails, is there a shop or office you can visit or write to, to get an update on your order, or request a refund? If that isn’t possible, the next steps depend on whether it’s a limited company (it will have ltd or plc after its title) or if it’s a sole trader (someone who runs their own business) or partnership.

If it’s a limited company, you’ll need to get details of the administrator or receiver – the person dealing with settling the trader’s debts. The names of those administrators will usually be on the website of the company that’s gone bust. You should register your claim as a creditor on the GOV.UK website. Fill out the form with details of what you’re owed and send it to the administrator dealing with the trader’s debts. Unfortunately, there’s only a small chance you’ll receive any money back because you’ll be last in a long list of creditors who need to be paid.

As the order was online (and I’m therefore assuming you paid by debit or credit card) you could also try getting your money back with a Section 75 claim or a chargeback claim to your card provider or bank. Full details about both these types of claims can be found on the Citizens Advice website. If the seller was a sole trader or partnership and not a limited company, pursuing a Section 75 or chargeback claim is your best option.

Every case is different when traders go under, but you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline to find out exactly what your rights are: 0808 223 1133 and visit


The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit