It’s what every bride has nightmares about: A wedding dress disappeared, stained, or — in New Hampshire resident Jesse Moltenbrey’s case — held “hostage.”
A billing dispute between now-bankrupt Bed Bath & Beyond and Houston-based Memories Gown Preservation led the preservation company to hold customers’ gowns until it received payment from the troubled retailer.
Last week, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) announced it was planning to liquidate its inventory and go out of business. Founded in 1971, it will now close its remaining 360 stores and 120 buybuy BABY locations. The company is looking for a buyer and will halt its closings if one appears.
But as the mammoth retailer ties up its loose ends, one group has been caught in the middle: the customers themselves.
“This is a bride’s worst nightmare,” Moltenbrey initially said in a Facebook post. Her floor length gown — black with white floral design — was trapped somewhere in an unknown facility.
In early March, Moltenbrey said she decided to send her wedding gown to be preserved. After reading good reviews about Houston-based Memories Gown Preservation, she decided to order the $120 kit through Bed Bath & Beyond.
Moltenbrey received the kit on March 16, and said she was charged an additional $25 for insurance once MemoriesGP received the gown on April 3.
“Why, then, on April 24th do I receive this email stating they are holding my dress ransom because of a company that is going BANKRUPT,” Moltenbrey wrote on Facebook.
In the email that Moltenbrey shared on Facebook, MemoriesGP said it began holding all wedding gowns received from Bed Bath & Beyond purchased kits as of March 11, before Moltenbrey said she shipped her dress to them.
“I felt sick to my stomach because of the helplessness,” Moltenbrey said in an interview with CNN.
Her black dress was so unique that the local store didn’t even have a sample, she said, and she’ll never forget the look on her guests’ faces when she walked down the aisle in 2018.
“I knew I wouldn’t look good in a white wedding dress,” she said.
The small business claimed in the email sent to Moltenbrey that Bed Bath & Beyond owed them $42,563.73 and that it hasn’t been paid for kits ordered in the entire past year. MemoriesGP told Moltenbrey that it contacted the houseware giant five separate times over the past year but hasn’t received its payment yet.
MemoriesGP asked Moltenbrey to call Bed Bath & Beyond’s customer service to request release of payment to the company.
“Once payment has been received to MemoriesGP we will promptly clean, preserve & ship your gown out to you,” the email said. That left Moltenbrey to contact the retail giant for the overdue payment.
“I’m just one person and this is a whole company going bankrupt,” Moltenbrey said.
On Wednesday, Moltenbrey posted MemoriesGP is returning her unpreserved dress after she sent an email to its vice president.
The company asked Moltenbrey pay for the shipping back to her. The $25 she paid for insurance will go toward the cost of shipping.
CNN has not received comment after multiple requests sent to Memories Gown Preservation.
However, in an email to Moltenbrey — which she posted to Facebook — Kyle Nesbit, who is listed on LinkedIn as the company’s former vice president, told her that the company “receives 100+ gowns per day.”
“We have no way of knowing which package has a Bed Bath gown in it before the package is opened in our facility,” he told her.
“The intent of our generic email was to get brides over to Bed Bath as that is who their financial transaction was with (we just provide the service),” Nesbit wrote to Moltenbrey.
In a statement, Bed Bath & Beyond said it’s become a legal matter. The preservation kit is currently unavailable on the website. The MemoriesGP website still advertises Bed Bath & Beyond as an authorized dealer and as a registry option.
“We take concerns raised by our customers very seriously,” Bed Bath & Beyond said. “This is a legal matter that we are working to resolve with a third party. As is our practice, we do not comment on legal matters.”