Publisher agrees to $1.2 million in refunds
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline)-A major U.S. publisher that sells books to government agencies, law firms and other businesses has agreed to issue $1.2 million in refunds for billing for merchandise that customers didn't order.
Thompson Publishing Group, Inc., based in Tampa, Fla., markets and sells books, newsletters, forms and other publications.
In April 2006, it began enrolling its existing customers into a program that automatically shipped publications without the customer ordering them. Then it sent a bill for those materials.
When the Florida attorney general's librarian was billed by Thompson for a book she hadn't ordered the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division launched an investigation into the company.
Attorney General Bill McCollum announced Tuesday that Thompson agreed to ensure that customers will not be sent and billed for materials they do not want.
The company also agreed that it wouldn't enroll customers in a program where they had to exercise a negative option by rejecting a publication before it was sent, or anything similar unless it provided the customer with a "clear and conspicuous" detailed notice of all the terms and conditions of the program.
Under the agreement, Thompson will send notices and a refund form to all its customers nationwide who paid for publications shipped to them either as "free" merchandise or in the Automatic Update Program.
Thompson also agreed to reimburse Florida for its $450,000 investigation costs.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Lin Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.