SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office filed a lawsuit Wednesday against an Ohio-based internet company for allegedly failing to disclose service charges and failing to refund customers.
Ohio AG Mike DeWine filed a similar suit Wednesday.
Form Giant LLC, doing business as Change-My-Address.com, allows consumers to change their address by entering in the appropriate information on the website. After clicking on the continue button to complete the transaction, consumers are taken to a page requesting payment information.
DeWine said the Cincinnati-based address changing service allegedly made misrepresentations and failed to properly disclose exclusions and limitations.
The compoany was the subject of at least 600 consumer complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Change-My-Address.com offers a service to change a consumer's address with the U.S. Postal Service for $9.95 to $29.95. The USPS only charges $1 for the same service.
Consumers throughout the U.S. mistakenly believed the website was associated with the USPS. Change-My-Address.com is a for-profit company that charges for its services.
"This business has agreed to make changes to its website, but complaints continue to come in," DeWine said. "By law, businesses can't misrepresent their services and they must clearly disclose important terms and conditions."
The lawsuit charges Change-My-Address.com and the company's CEO with violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act, including failure to clearly disclose limitations and exclusions and acts of misrepresentation. The suit seeks consumer restitution, civil penalties, injunctive relief and other costs.
The defendants allegedly programmed the payment information page to obscure pricing information and created an impression that the service cost would be limited to the $1 charge assessed by the U.S. Postal Service.
Ferguson's office alleged that in many cases, the consumers believed the site was the official site for the USPS change of address service.
"Whether deceptive businesses have a store front or are online, if you don't play by the rules, my office will hold you accountable," Ferguson said. "The attorney general's office is filing a lawsuit against change-my-address.com to protect Washington consumers."
Ferguson's lawsuit also alleges the defendants refused to refund the full amount charged when consumers sought refunds.
Ferguson's Consumer Protection Act lawsuit against the defendants, including Matthew Riley, the company's president, seeks civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation and restitution for all impacted consumers.