Coakley sues heating oil company

Nick Rees Mar. 4, 2010, 2:16pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a complaint against a home heating company for allegedly deceptive practices in the sale of home heating oil and related services in North Shore communities.

Coakley's complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, names Astrofuel LLC; Anita Davekos, doing businesses as Anchor Fuel, and Peter G. Davekos, doing business as Apollo Group, for practices that violated the Consumer Protection Act.

"Families across the Commonwealth already struggle to pay the high energy costs that we are faced with here in the Northeast," Coakley said.

"Failure to disclose accurate information concerning the costs associated with the delivery of home heating oil and then improperly filing inflated liens on consumers' homes as a means to excise payment is an unconscionable business practice and will not be tolerated."

The complaint alleges that, since at least 2004, the defendants have failed to disclose information concerning the price and fees for the sale of home heating oil, surreptitiously filed unlawful and inflated liens upon consumers' homes as part of an attempt to collect outstanding balances, and failed to file businesses as required under a prior agreement with the attorney general's office as required by law.

The defendants are also alleged to have provided buyers with delivery authorization cards without disclosing cancellation fees, monthly late fees and other charges that were routinely added to consumers' bills.

Coakley's lawsuit seeks an injunction to prohibit the defendants from utilizing sales documents that failed to disclose material terms in regards to price and fees prior to the consummation of a consumer transaction. The injunction would also bar the defendants from improperly filing liens on consumers' homes or conducting business and filing liens under assumed names without the filing of appropriate business certificates.

The lawsuit also seeks to require the defendants to dissolve all improperly filed liens, provide full and complete restitution to consumers and pay civil penalties and investigation costs.

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