“It’s horrible:" Missouri workers say they learned of company closure, layoffs via text message

O'FALLON, Missouri -- 60 employees of a Missouri company called Discount Auto Protection that deals with extended warranties for vehicles have found themselves suddenly out of work as the company closes. They say they got the word on Friday, February 19th via text message.

Friday was supposed to be pay day -- but these workers instead learned they're out of a job, and most have also lost three week's pay.

“It’s horrible. It is absolutely terrible. How can you do that to people?” said employee Janet Morgan.

Once word spread, it wasn’t long before employees began showing up at the office hoping someone could answer their questions, and give them the chance to get their personal items out of the building.

They got neither.

“It’s hogwash. I was supposed to have a big check and we were going to go out and celebrate and eat crab legs. Now I’m worried about my groceries that are in the refrigerator in there," said employee Bob Hendricks, who is supporting a family of seven.

A few employees said there had been hints the company might be having financial trouble. Sales people said they did not receive their bonus checks on Monday, February 15th.

Hendricks is one of at least two employees who have been wondering why the State of Missouri has been sending them letters, telling them they’re behind on their child support payments, even though they were having what they owed directly withdrawn from their paychecks.

“With all this going down it makes me wonder who, in fact, got my child support money,” Hendricks said.

For some, the gut punch of sudden unemployment was soothed slightly by a competitor in St. Peters, Missouri looking for workers with experience in the extended warranty business. Several were already filling out applications by lunchtime Friday.

“We’ve got some open spots. Hopefully we can make this their new home," said National Vehicle Service Administration spokesperson Rhea Cartright.

According to employees and the Better Business Bureau, Discount Auto Protection is owned by Jake Ellinger.

KTVI was unable to reach him, or anyone else in management for a comment.

The BBB shows the company has a D+ rating with 78 unresolved customer complaints.