News outlets have reported in recent weeks how the recession hit Denver-based sandwich chain Quiznos. In fact, until recently, many sources assumed Quiznos would opt for bankruptcy protection to alleviate its debt burdens brought on by a lowered demand for sandwiches and a price war with its main competitor, Subway.
But this week, the sub shop decided to avoid bankruptcy court by ceding control of its operations to Avenue Capital, one of its major creditors. According to sources, the deal will involve a takeover of corporate management by Avenue, while franchise operations should continue to operate normally.
Bankruptcy & Bankruptcy Alternatives for Individuals
At the corporate level, the Quiznos decision to avoid bankruptcy made sense: in exchange for eliminating some of the sandwich chain’s debt, Avenue got to take corporate control. If the new owner plays its cards right, it could make the changes necessary to turn Quiznos around and return it to profitability.
Individuals may face similar choices. Here’s how to navigate the world of debt-relief options.
- Creditor negotiation: Essentially the Quiznos route, this method of easing debt may benefit both parties. Debtors get some of their debts forgiven by their creditors, and creditors don’t have to worry about having those debts completely eliminated by the bankruptcy court. In some cases, individuals can negotiate with creditors for modified repayment terms (such as lower interest rates, reduction in principal, or lowered monthly payments) in exchange for refraining from filing bankruptcy. Note: if you’re interested in creditor negotiation, be sure to let your creditors know that you’re considering a bankruptcy filing, and be sure to get any new agreements in writing.
- Credit Counseling: This bankruptcy alternative involves visiting with a credit counseling professional to work through a debt-elimination plan. These plans may be comprehensive, including budget outlines, repayment schedules, and suggestions for future credit and debt usage. Note: if you’re considering credit counseling, be sure check your local Better Business Bureau for complaints against the firm.
- Debt Settlement: In debt settlement, the debt settlement agency communicates with a debtor’s creditors to negotiate better debt repayment terms. While potentially very effective, debt settlement can also end in disaster (when firms unscrupulously take consumer money without actually helping them resolve their debt issues). Note: if you’re considering debt settlement, be sure to consult with the BBB and other online resources to determine the quality of the company you’re working with.
When to Choose Bankruptcy
It’s important to note that, while bankruptcy is not the right choice in all debt situations, it remains the only debt elimination solution that is regulated at the federal level and offers filers protection from debt collectors and creditors through the court's automatic stay.