Iowa AG settles with Premier Memberships Clubs

Nick Rees Sep. 19, 2012, 3:37pm


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Monday that an Oregon-based buying club will pay $26,000 in restitution and costs and change its marketing practices.

The Portland, Ore.-based Platinum Online Group Inc., doing business as Premier Memberships Clubs, agreed to pay more than $21,000 in refunds to Iowans charged for memberships in its programs as part of an assurance of voluntary compliance. The company agreed to pay an additional $5,000 to cover the state's costs.

While denying any wrongdoing, the company agreed to change its marketing in Iowa and to cooperate in marking partial refunds to approximately 370 Iowans enrolled and charged for its "SavingPays Discount Club" membership. SavingPays membership purported to provide discounts on shopping, dining and entertainment.

"A Des Moines consumer alerted us to this illegal conduct, when she complained to the Consumer Protection Division last summer that this operation had taken almost $100 from her checking account for a membership she had never intentionally enrolled in," Miller said. "Adding insult to injury, the unauthorized withdrawal caused her account to be overdrawn, resulting in overdraft fees. We've seen far too many similar abuses among membership buying clubs, and were grateful to the consumer for bringing this latest one to our attention."

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