POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 6, 2011
Question: My wife and I sent nine boxes to our son in the Philippines on Jan. 14 and 18 using the services of PB Direct Corp., 808 Ahua St. It's been more than three months, and we do not know where our boxes are. Efforts to contact the company here in Hawaii and in Manila proved exasperating. Earlier, we were given a lot of reasons for the delay, and now their phones are just dead. It seems they just disappeared after having taken our fees. Many Filipinos rely on this kind of door-to-door service to send things to relatives in the Philippines. Can they just leave us wondering what happened after taking our goods and shipping fees?
Answer: The state Office of Consumer Protection is investigating the company after receiving similar complaints.
You are advised to file a complaint with the office, by calling 587-3222 or at hawaii.gov/dcca/ocp.
We called PB Direct's numbers several times but could not get through.
Hawaii's Better Business Bureau says the phone number and address of PB Direct match those of Philbox Express Inc., whose principal is Leandro Estrada. PB Direct's principal is Maria Estrada.
Consumers had written the BBB that Philbox Express had changed its name to PB Direct Corp.; however, the BBB said they are legally separate entities. As of last week neither PB Direct nor the principals had filed for bankruptcy, the BBB said.
State business registration records show the company first registered in 2009 but did not file a report this year.
Companies that deliver packages within the state generally are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, "with a few exceptions," according to the BBB. However, those that deliver packages out of the state or country are not regulated.
In addition to contacting the Office of Consumer Protection, you can file a complaint with the BBB at hawaii.bbb.org or call 536-6956.
When A Company Goes Out of Business
Hawaii's Better Business Bureau gives these tips on what to do if a company suddenly folds: Visit the last known location to see whether any signs or instructions have been posted; ask neighboring businesses, the landlord, leasing agent or building manager whether they know how to reach the business; write a letter to the last known address to see whether the mail gets forwarded.
If the business is regulated or licensed, contact the state Professional and Vocational Licensing Division at 587-3222; if it was a corporation, contact the state Business Registration Division at 586-2727 for the names of officers; if the company has filed for bankruptcy, contact the Bankruptcy Court at 522-8122; contact the BBB at 536-6956 or www.hawaii.bbb.org for a report on the company.
Other options: file a claim in Small Claims Court (call 538-5151) or consult an attorney.
"Closing a business does not relieve its owner of obligations to customers," the BBB says.
To all who saved my vehicle and saved the day that could have been disastrous on the H-1 freeway on Tuesday, April 26. After having a car wash and oil/gas service shortly after 2 p.m., I proceeded onto the freeway, westbound, when my vehicle hood suddenly flew open, blinding me. The tech had failed to slam my hood shut. I nearly missed hitting another vehicle. Quick reaction by other drivers, who stopped and waved vehicles to stop, allowed me to move safely to the left side. Mahalo also to a kind man who stopped to assist me, as well as the Freeway Patrol driver who came to the rescue. Our drivers are still the best in the world! May God bless all of you! -- M. Benjamin
Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.