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Is new owner required to honor promised refund?

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? California

The short version:
A business owed me a refund. The business was sold to a new owner. The new owner won't pay the refund. Is that illegal?

The details:
I stayed at a rental property for a weekend last February. I had signed a contract for 3 nights and paid in advance. The property management company made several errors, which forced us to miss our first night's stay. They agreed to refund the first night's stay, which was $175, and promised to send me a check.

After I called the office several times to remind them, I received a check for $175 at the beginning of April. However, when I tried to deposit the check (about 3 weeks later), the account the check was written on had been closed. I called the property management office and left a message. My call was returned by someone who said a new check would be issued. No new check ever arrived.

I called the office again in July, left some messages, and was eventually told that in mid-March the business had been sold and the check I had received was written by the previous owners. The new owners had tried to contact the previous owners about the matter but had been unable to. While the new owners agreed that I was owed a refund, they felt that it was the responsibility of the previous owners to provide the refund, not theirs. I received a letter from them stating this. The business is operating under the same name and in the same location.

I have heard that when you buy a business, you assume responsibility for its debts, and I would think that a refund owed would qualify as a debt. Is that true? Is there a law or statute I can quote to them? I don't want to take them to small claims court for such a minor amount, but maybe if I can show them that its their legal responsibility they will provide the refund.


Everything depends on the contractual agreement between the old & new owners. Debts & obligations CAN be transferred when a business is sold, but they don't have to be (in which case they remain the obligation of the old owners)

But I don't know how you "show" somebody an obligation is their legal responsibility without taking them to court. You can make a legally valid argument, and they still might say "so what?"


Junior Member
Thanks, Shortbus. I have no way of knowing what the contractual agreement was for the sale, so I will just let the matter rest.

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