Wisc. consumers up for refunds in N.Y. case

Nick Rees Oct. 16, 2009, 2:44pm

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wisc. (Legal Newsline) - Consumers in Wisconsin who purchased electronics from certain who were injured by the alleged actions of certain New York-based online companies may be eligible for refunds, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says.

The refund program comes as part of a settlement reached between the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and seven internet electronics dealers, including Best Price Camera, Foto Connection, 1 Way Photo, 86th Street Photo, Broadway Photo, LLC, Camera Wiz and Sonic Photo, all of which operated under a variety of business names.

The defendants were alleged to have advertised consumers electronics, including cameras, camcorders, projectors and relate accessories, online at significantly lower prices than their competitors to lure consumers to place orders with them.

After an order was placed, the companies would call the purchaser to attempt to sell additional or upgraded merchandise at inflated prices, it is alleged. Consumers who refused to purchase the additional merchandise would have their original purchase canceled or would be told the item was back ordered, sometimes for months, it is alleged.

Customers who did agree to purchase the additional merchandise would then receive lower quality merchandise than what was promised or merchandise that was not ordered.

Cuomo alleged attempts to return items were either denied or hit with undisclosed fees, and that customers were also limited in their ability to return merchandise by requirements that they must speak to a live customer representative during limited business hours. Telephone calls at the appropriate time were then not answered, he said.

The companies, as a result of the settlement, have agreed to pay a total of $665,000 in restitution and penalties to injured consumers nationwide.

Two of the companies - Camera Wiz and Sonic Photo - have agreed to close completely. The remaining five have agreed to substantially change their business practices and will be monitored by New York's attorney general's office.

Best Price Camera and 1 Way Photo, which have moved out of New York State, have agreed to remain bound by New York law and to be subject to the state's monitoring.

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