On November 15th, Techshop closed their US locations.  They fired the employees, locked the doors, and announced that they were immediately filing bankruptcy (which as of this writing they haven’t filed).

Months ago they stopped paying instructors and eventually they stopped making payroll while burning a rumored 5 million per year in corporate expenses.

I was fortunate enough to get a phone call from a friend to come get my tool chest before they locked the doors.  Many people had their business locked away inside, right before the holiday season.

If you paid for a service in advance at Techshop with a credit or debit card and didn’t receive 100% of that service, you can charge back what you paid. This includes prepaid membership fees, lockers, etc. Because you paid for a future service in advance, you generally have something like 120 days from the last time you expected to receive service, up to 540 days from the initial charge. Moreover these transactions are guaranteed by your card.

If like me, you paid for a year’s membership in the summer, Techshop probably owes you a thousand bucks or more. Because you paid in a lump sum, they owe you the entire amount as they didn’t render the service you paid for.

That thousand bucks will probably go a long way towards a new shop if you want to build one. If you want to pool your resources, it doesn’t take many people to buy a small shop’s worth of equipment, depending on what you need. Eric’s group is working hard to figure it out as is my group.


So here are the steps. Note that I’m not a lawyer, you should consult your doctor, accountant, this is not legal advice, etc.

1. Get the actual transaction, date, etc from your credit card statement. This will probably say Techshop with a phone number. Print it out.  It will look something like this.

06/04 Card Purchase 06/04 Techshop Menlo Park 800-640-1975 CA 998.00

2. Print out a copy of the closure email, the news story about Techshop closing, maybe a picture of the note on the closed doors.

3. Go to the bank if at all possible. It’s much easier if you can provide them with documents on the spot. If not, call the number on the back of the card. My experience was that the people on the phone didn’t capture everything quite right so I had to go through this twice. It took about two weeks per round to get resolved.

Things to emphasize to your bank:

  • “I paid for a year long service beginning this date, ending this date.” The exact dates aren’t that important. You’re just looking for this month in 2017 to this month in 2018 showing that you paid for something in advance of receiving it.
  • “On November 15th 2017, they closed the doors and fired all the employees, so I’m no longer receiving that service.” See documentation.
  • “I asked for a refund on-site that day, and the employees were locked out of the systems so they could not refund me.”
  • “I would like to issue a chargeback for this transaction….” Give them the date, amount, etc.
  • Have them call the number on your bill and see that it has been disconnected (unavailable).

Most likely the people at your bank will call the dispute resolution department and they write it all up. They then do an “investigation” for a couple weeks and make a decision. If you don’t like their decision, call them up to figure out what they wrote down wrong and do it again.

Hope this helps.

If you’re looking for a small more advanced machine shop that might include a wood shop in the mid penensula area, check out our slack channel and fill out the survey there to get on the email list.

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