Back in the early 90's I took a job with small (less than 10 people, including the two owners) & quite young engineering company. The owners were actually college professors, for whom this company was a part-time avocation -- a hobby of sorts, as it turned out. The company had a 401K program, in which I elected to participate. It was fairly conventional and included an employer contribution as a percentage of the total. The professors were the company's sales force, as well as its top management.
The professors were very ego-driven. I'd been there just a bit over a year when they went to a progress meeting, with a client and representatives of some of the other contractors on a very large job. When they returned, they were delighted with how skillfully they had displayed their superior knowledge such that, after a brief while, others in the meeting didn't even attempt to respond to their comments. I groaned (quietly) upon hearing about this, expecting the worst.
And, we got it, 'it' being 'the worst'. The contract was cancelled, along with any further contracting opportunities in that little business sector, which included what had been the company's only prospects.
The two owners remained confident and continued to churn out proposals. That went on for several months but, meanwhile, there was no paying business to keep the company going. The owners maintained that they had the inside track on a couple of outstanding bids, and advised everybody to keep calm. Meanwhile, salaries were discontinued ('temporarily', of course, while awaiting award of some of the pending contracts).
I quit after two months of this, roughly a decade ago. No more contracts ever materialized for the company. I believe that the word got out about the owners' pompous ignorance at that contract progress meeting but, whatever the reason, the company was clearly blacklisted among its former customer base. Subsequently, a few months after I left, the company closed down and vacated its rented office space.
Being at that point just old enough to do so, I cashed out the portion of my 401k that was based on my own contributions, but apparently had not been there long enough to qualify for the employer's contributions. Now here is where it gets interesting.
Every few months, I continue to receive statements from the financial company holding the remaining assets: the employer's contribution from over a decade ago, plus any growth (which is negligible) based on that amount.
The company is still registered with the state (NY), as an operating company at the address it occupied when I worked there. It is listed as such by the NY Department of State, Division of Corporations, which indicated (when I recently checked): "The information contained in this database is current through July 8, 2013", i.e. it is represented as being current. However the company has no presence at the indicated address. The space they occupied at that time (and which they still claim to occupy) is now held by a different and completely unrelated tenant.
1. The company still exists - at least on paper - but its registered corporate address is fraudulent and the company does not actually have a presence or any operations there. Correspondence intended for the company must be sent or forwarded to one of the professors personally, or perhaps to a Post Office box, or it will not be delivered.
2. At the company's former location (and current "Corporate Address"), inquiries about it evoke a blank stare. Nobody ever heard of it. Even the suite number does not exist any more, that suite having been merged with its neighbor to create a larger space for a company that outgrew its original quarters.
3. Also, for some reason that I cannot discern, the company is apparently not able to retrieve its 401k contribution from the financial company hosting the account.
4. Result: stalemate. Neither the former employer nor I can access the money, and apparently the only party pleased with this situation is the "financial management" company hosting the account. They get their piece no matter what, as long as they can hold on to the account, which appears to be: indefinitely.
It's really irksome to see an insurance company getting what appears to be eternal corporate welfare out of my account. It isn't really very much money, but annoying in principle.