Bill Heard closure sends many complaints to BBB

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Bill Heard Enterprises will shut down all 14 stores Friday morning, officials said Thursday.

The closure of the auto dealership company, which was recently sued and questioned about business practices, left many employees and customers wondering what would happen next.

Thursday, a security guard posted at the entrance of a Memphis dealership allowed former employees onto the lot to collect final paychecks. Everyone else was turned away.

Meanwhile, at the Memphis branch of the Better Business Bureau, phones were ringing off the hook.

"Right now, we don't know what's happening," Randy Hutchinson of the Better Business Bureau said.

Hutchinson said complaints about the dealership were pouring in, but that was not necessarily something new.

Bill Heard is not a BBB Accredited business, but the agency has a reliability report on file for the dealership.  The three page report outlines three separate government actions against Bill Heard's corporate office. Locally, the BBB has registered 64 complaints over the past three years, including18 regarding sales practices, 12 regarding advertising, and 9 regarding service and repair issues.

Customers turned away by the security guard Thursday complained too. Some said the dealership owes them money for past business, while others said the dealership reneged on sales deals.

Hutchinson said the Better Business Bureau is searching for answers, too.

"We advise people to file a complaint with us. We're going to be attempting to talk with the state authorities to see if they got any advice. We'll try to get ahold of the folks at Bill Heard headquarters in Georgia," Hutchinson said.

Action News 5 spoke with a representative at the dealership by phone, who said the company was paying employees and sending them home.

The company representative said the organization would make an announcement Friday, but declined to elaborate.

Click here to e-mail Nick Kenney.