NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced on Monday that her office has reached a consent order with a Monmouth County, N.J.-based DVD mail-order company over allegedly unauthorized credit card charges.
Comm-Services LLC agreed to abide by the decisions of the State Division of Consumer Affairs' binding arbitration process with 78 New Jersey consumers. The company, owner Abraham S. Cohen, formerly of Long Branch, N,.J., and manager Elliott Mavorah of Long Branch, also agreed to pay the division $186,000, including $175,000 in civil penalties and $11,000 in investigative costs and attorneys' fees. An initial $11,000 payment will be made on May 3, with another $50,000 paid on or before May 31.
If Comm-Services and its owner and manager comply with the terms and conditions of the consent order, the state will suspend the remaining $125,000 balance of the civil penalties.
The DCA alleged that Comm-Services, Cohen and Mavorah violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and advertising regulations by placing unauthorized charges on consumers' credit cards after mailing DVDs the consumers did not order.
The defendants agreed in the consent order to not charge consumers for merchandise they did not order and will disclose the complete cost of merchandise, including shipping and handling, in advertisements. Additionally, they will not charge consumers' credit cards without the consumers' express authorization and will clearly and conspicuously set forth all disclaimers that apply to the sale of merchandise.
"The Division of Consumer Affairs fought and won a clear victory for New Jersey's consumers," Dow said. "With this Order, the State holds a $125,000 penalty over the heads of Comm-Service and its owner and manager, should they fail to honor binding arbitration with consumers, or otherwise fail to comply with the settlement terms."
In addition, the DCA will refer any new consumer complaints to Comm-Services for resolution. If the company disputes a new complaint or requested relief, the matter will be referred to the DCA's Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit for binding arbitration.