Refunds for customers of Conn. herbal company

Keith Loria May 12, 2010, 2:42pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Wednesday that an herbal sales company and its owner will to pay back $88,0000 to consumers over allegations of unethical delivery and collection practices.

Bethel-based Sunrise Herbal Remedies, Inc., also known as Sage Advice, Inc., and Herbs and Teas and owner Valerie Hawk-Hoffman were charged in a 2007 lawsuit brought by the attorney general on behalf of Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr., who received more than 370 complaints about the business by consumers who believed they were buying one order but were signing up for regular shipments.

Complaints ranged from consumers alleging the placement of a single order that resulted in monthly shipments, consumers who signed up for monthly deliveries but were sent shipments two or three times a month and abusive collection practices for moneys consumers said they did not owe.

Hawk-Hoffman agreed to refund everyone who made a complaint, but denied any unethical practices in the settlement. The average refund is valued at around $200.

"This settlement guarantees full restitution - 100 cents on the dollar - for as many as 400 consumers who allege Ms. Hawk-Hoffman and her company sent and billed them for products they never ordered," Blumenthal said. "This agreement settles serious charges and assures consumers get back all alleged overcharges and payments for disputed orders."

The herbal company sold their products - ranging from $40 - $129 - on the web, by phone and at seminars. The company claimed the products provided multiple benefits, including increased energy, stress relief and an improved love life.

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