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O’Fallon, MO company suddenly closes, employees laid off without pay

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O’FALLON, MO (KTVI)-About 60 employees of an O’Fallon, Missouri, vehicle extended warranty company called Discount Auto Protection find themselves suddenly out of work, as the company closes the doors. Most will have also lost three week’s pay.

Employees got the word early Friday morning via text message. It was supposed to be payday.

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

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. But they got neither.

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

A few employees said there had been hints the company might be having financial trouble; especially after sales people say they did not receive their bonus checks on Monday. 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telling them they’re behind on their child support payments, even though they were having what they owed directly withdrawn from their paychecks.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,” he said.

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

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

According to employees and the Better Business Bureau, the company is owned by Jake Ellinger.  We were 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.

Employees say as far as customers are concerned, they don’t think the closing will affect policies already in force because Discount Auto Protection was just a broker; the warranties themselves were underwritten by other companies.