Americanas (AMER3) is at the center of attention of investors, shareholders and supervisory bodies after the disclosure of an accounting inconsistency of R$ 20 billion, which added to the company’s gross debt of R$ 19.3 billion, opens a gap of R$40 billion in debt. In the equation, however, there are also consumers, who keep an eye on the unfolding of this scam, which puts the company’s credibility in check.
Among the doubts about the company’s situation, customers want to know if it is still possible to buy the products, if they will receive them, if the delivery could be delayed, if it is possible to cancel an order, among other points. In a note to Money info, Americanas says it has “communicated to customers and partners that it remains open and ready for their purchases and deliveries, in stores, on the website and in the app.” The company also offers discounts of up to 50% in different categories and cashbacks of up to 30% on stock sales.
To complete and provide more details on the situation, the Money info consulted Guilherme Farid, Procon-SP chief of staff; David Douglas Guedes, client relationship attorney at Idec; Raphaell Marden, consumer law attorney; and Fabio Melo, a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy and judicial recovery, both of Goulart Penteado, to answer questions on the situation of American consumers at the moment.
1. Are the Americans bankrupt?
No. The company is in crisis due to very high debts, but is still “breathing” as it evaluates the directions to take.
On Friday (13) the company obtained in court the suspension of 30 days of the early maturity of its debts. Experts see two possible ways: one of these is the negotiation of a capital injection with the banks. The other would be a preparation for the judicial recovery application, an alternative that appears more probable in the assessment of XP Investimentos, given the size of the company’s debt and any capital requirement, as well as the number of creditors involved. But for now, nothing has been decided.
This Monday (16), the board of directors of Americanas elected João Guerra Duarte Neto interim CEO of the company. He is currently the (non-statutory) director of human resources for Americanas and has an extensive career at the company in the technology and human resources sectors. He takes charge of the retailer after recently appointed Sergio Rial and André Covre stepped down as chief executive officer and head of investor relations.
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2. Can I buy products from Americanas?
Yes, the store, website and app work for purchases.
Purchases already made must follow the normal billing and delivery times established at the time of purchase, in compliance with the Consumer Defense Code (CDC) which determines the exact fulfillment of the offer pursuant to art. 30.
3. Is there a risk of not receiving the product?
It is widely believed among specialists that, at least for now, consumers need not fear not receiving their purchases because the crisis the company is facing is focused on the accounting area and is still being investigated by auditors.
The company remains obliged to deliver the products, meet deadlines, return the amounts in case of repentance (cancellation within the statutory term), maintain a good relationship with the consumer and fulfill all obligations imposed by law.
According to experts, the company must keep its clientele satisfied and interested in its products and services, in order to regain financial health – after all, sales are a very significant part of revenue.
The situation needs to be monitored, but there is still no reason for the consumer to stop doing business with a company they already know and are used to shopping with, unless they comply with their rights under the CDC.
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4. What happens to the Ame cashback?
Ame, a fintech of the Americanas group, has a feature well known to consumers, namely cashback. One of the customers’ doubts is whether there is a risk of losing the value accumulated in this asset given the company’s situation.
Experts understand that Ame’s cashback balance cannot be affected by the accounting crisis faced by Americans. If the consumer identifies any inconsistencies in the account, the first step is to seek out Americanas Customer Service (SAC), according to Marden, of Goulart Penteado.
Idec’s Guedes says cashback is a vested right, and the company cannot block that amount from a consumer’s digital wallet, for reasons unrelated to its regulation. “In any case, it is important that consumers register their cashback balances, in order to protect themselves in case of any abusive practices,” he suggests.
5. Can I cancel a purchase on Americanas?
Yes. The accounting crisis faced by the Americans, in itself, does not change the cancellation rules. Therefore, as provided for by article 49 of the Consumer Protection Code, the customer can exercise the right of withdrawal and withdraw from the purchase, within a period of seven days, starting from the purchase or receipt of the product, provided whether you made your purchase through the company’s website or over the phone.
The cancellation does not apply to purchases in physical stores. The return of the amount paid must be immediate and, if applicable, must be subject to monetary correction, according to Idec.
6. And if I delay the delivery, can I give up the product?
Yes. The Consumer Protection Code requires suppliers to respect the offer, in all its terms, including the deadline for delivery.
Therefore, if the delivery is not made within the deadline set at the time of purchase, the consumer may request the cancellation of the purchase, with the right to a refund of the amount paid, pursuant to art. 35 CDC. If desired, the customer can also insist on the delivery of the products and obtain a new delivery forecast. It is also possible to accept an alternative product, with equivalent quality, without increasing the price.
“If the company delays the delivery of the product for more than 30 days, the consumer can also choose between asking for a refund or using the amount as a credit,” says Farid, of Procon-SP.
If the customer doesn’t want to cancel or give up on the purchase, the initial recommendation is that the consumer contact the business to find out what happened. Experts point out that Americanas customer service still works.
7. Is it possible to exchange a product?
The crisis, for now, does not change the exchange and return rules. The consumer must comply with the requirements necessary to exchange a product, already established at the time of purchase.
“By adhering to the store’s policies and deadlines, it is entirely possible to make the switch, as the company continues to meet its legal and contractual obligations,” Guedes points out.
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8. Are Submarino and Shoptime subject to the same rules as Americans?
Yes, companies in the same conglomerate must continue with their businesses as normal and, therefore, must follow CDC rules and other laws applicable to their businesses.
9. And if Americanas enters judicial recovery, what about the purchases?
Fabio Melo, a bankruptcy attorney, explains that if Americanas files for a judicial recovery and agrees to processing, consumers’ rights will remain unaffected.
“This legal proceeding is to preserve business continuity by establishing new terms and conditions exclusively with its creditors. Therefore, in consumer relations, obligations, customer service and delivery services must be maintained with the same quality, without affecting the already negotiated stock ”, he explains.
In any case, if the judicial recovery takes place and the consumer has some interference, he can adopt the administrative measures available, activating the Procon of his city and formally registering his complaint on the consumer.gov platform.
Guedes, of Idec, points out that even in the event of a judicial recovery, the company must continue to comply with the CDC and continue to make sales. “The company needs ‘breathing’ during the restructuring process,” he explains.
10. What if Americanas goes bankrupt?
In the event of an eventual bankruptcy of Americanas, the situation changes. “Consumers can lose some rights, even in relation to goods already purchased,” says Farid, of Procon-SP.
This is because in the bankruptcy procedure of a company, payment to creditors is made up to the limit of their assets and assets, respecting a specific payment order stipulated in article 83 of the bankruptcy law.
“In summary, the law establishes that, after the identification and sale of the assets, the labor creditors are paid first, then the secured creditors, the tax creditors and then the unsecured creditors, the class in which consumers fall”, adds Melo.
Farid adds that because consumers don’t have payment schedule preferences, they may lose some rights. But it is worth remembering that this is a very extreme situation and that, for now, it is a hypothesis.
Even so, if Americanas is declared bankrupt, consumers can file a claim, through a lawsuit, against Americanas to get their money back, if they bought products and didn’t receive them, for example.
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