What to do if I went to a coin store and paid for silver coins that were not in stock and waited for months but now the owner is refusing to reimburse me?

UPDATED: Oct 6, 2014

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What to do if I went to a coin store and paid for silver coins that were not in stock and waited for months but now the owner is refusing to reimburse me?

The business stated that they will have the product in 1 week; it has been 3 months. Now the owner is refusing to give my money back. The owner keeps asking to extend time so he can get the coin. Is this in anyway legal? Can a business just steal someone’s money and not be a criminal offense. Money that is involved is 3k for one party and 3k for another party.

Asked on October 6, 2014 under Business Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

No, a business may NOT "just steal someone's money"; doing so is a crime. Where there is a grey area is if there was no written agreement specifying that a product would be provided by a certain time or that time is "of the essence," then how much time must the customer give the business to procure the product? The law does not provide a firm, black-and-white answer, and it will generally depend on the norms of that industry and the intentions of the parties (the customer and business) at the time they began transacting business, at least to the extent such norms or such intentions can be determined. The above said, three months would normally be too long, and the business should return the money at this point.

This is best treated however, as a civil matter, not a criminal one, since for it to be a crime, there must be a criminal intent--i.e. an intention to steal the money--and not just an aggressive but good faith "business" intention to fulfill the customer's order and not give up the sale, even if it takes longer than hoped for.  (Also, the criminal law is designed to punish criminals, not necessarily to get people their money back.) Therefore, your best recourse is to file a lawsuit for the return of the money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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