October 27, 2005
St. Louis, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon today obtained a temporary restraining order to freeze the assets of Cohen Appliance, a home appliance chain that closed its two remaining St. Louis-area stores last Friday without notice.
Nixon took the action to protect consumers who paid several thousand dollars for appliances that have not been delivered; in the case of one consumer who complained to Nixon's office, the purchase was made only one day before the stores closed.
One of the stores is located in University City and the other is in Chesterfield. A third Cohen Appliance store in South County reportedly closed last month; a fourth is believed to have been closed last year.
Consumers who went to the locations that closed on Friday reported a sign on the door directed them to call a telephone number for more information. When the consumers called, they heard a recorded message that gave no additional information. Messages left at the number were not returned. Other customers who were told they could meet a Cohen representative at a warehouse to pick up their appliances reported the warehouse was locked when they arrived and that no one from Cohen was there.
"The first step to protect consumers is to account for the assets of this business that are on hand, both in appliances and in financial resources," Nixon said.
The order, signed by St. Louis County Circuit Judge Barbara Wallace, prohibits Cohen Appliance and Douglas Kolker, who is substantially involved with the day-to-day operation of Cohen, from selling, moving or transferring property without an order of the court and freezes the business' bank accounts.
Nixon said his office will work to get customers the merchandise they paid for or refunds for the amounts they paid. He has filed for preliminary and permanent injunctions, asking the court to order Cohen Appliance to make customers whole. A hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Nov. 7. Nixon also is asking the court to order the defendants to pay appropriate penalties and costs associated with bringing the legal action.
Consumers who want to file a complaint are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or obtain a complaint form.