N.Y. furniture store settles over deceptive promotions and failure to deliver items‏

Nick Rees Dec. 7, 2009, 12:02pm

Mario Cuomo (D)

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo has announced an agreement with a furniture company and its owner to remedy its issues with furniture delivery and to cease its deceptive marketing tactics.

Carl's Furniture City and owner Carl Vogel were found during the course of an investigation by the attorney general's office to have engaged in a deceptive marketing scheme that induced customers to purchase $500 in furniture to receive "$500 in groceries" and "free cruise vouchers." Those promotional items contained unreasonably restrictive exceptions and additional charges that negated their benefit.

To obtain the $500 grocery voucher, the investigation revealed, consumers had to collect $100 in grocery receipts from a pre-selected store each month to receive a $25 voucher. Consumers, then, would have to spend at least $2,000 over a 20 month period to collect the full $500. Consumers who didn't submit a $100 receipt for any given month during that time period would become ineligible for the promotion.

Carl's Furniture City was also found to have failed to promptly deliver furniture that had already been paid for and failed to give refunds to customers whose furniture had never been delivered. Customers who canceled their order were charged additional restocking fees.

Furniture and appliance dealers are required by New York state law to provide consumers with estimated dates or date ranges of delivery. Companies must give customers the option of a cash refund, store credit, a new delivery date or another piece of merchandise in the case of significant delays.

"This business ignored customers who hadn't received the products they purchased and employed deceiving promotional gimmicks to lure more customers into the store," Cuomo said. "Fortunately for the customers, the law is on their side. Businesses that neglect their obligations or act irresponsibly will be held accountable, and this company must now conform to New York law."

Under terms of the settlement agreement, Carl's Furniture City is required to tell consumers holding store credit for furniture that was not delivered in its original range of dates that they have a right to cancel their contract and receive a full refund. The company is also required to stop employing deceptive promotions immediately, including its free grocery and free cruise vouchers. The company will also pay $15,000 in penalties, fees and costs to the state.

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