ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Legal Newsline) - New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced last week the successful litigation of a matter involving J. Edwards Diamonds to stop the company's leasing program from violating the state's Unfair Practices Act.
King began looking into the Albuquerque business and its multi-tiered pricing, advertised discounts and leasing program used for the purchase of jewelry and diamonds. J. Edwards filed a preemptive lawsuit against King to determine if King's practices were legal. King's office countersued, claiming that the pricing structure the business used was in violation of New Mexico law.
King's office reached a settlement with J. Edwards Jewelry Distributing Company, doing business as Diamond Financial Services, and John Silverman, the president and an officer of J. Edwards Diamonds of New Mexico LLC. The partial stipulated consent decree settles all but one legal question that deals with credit card payments.
Under the terms of the settlement, the jewelry store is prohibited from advertising its merchandise as being at the lowest prices or wholesale; implementing, using or offering any variation of its leasing program or a same as cash purchase option program in violation of the agreement; and using practices such as undisclosed penalties, multiple conflicting contracts or undisclosed balloon payments.
Additionally, J. Edwards and Diamond Financial Services may not engage in several practices with consumers that have an active lease for the purchase of diamonds or jewelry. The prohibited practices include charging or enforcing any termination or reinstatement fees or penalties, enforcing forfeiture provisions for sums held in a reserve account, and retaining any portion of sums to be paid into the reserve account. The company must immediately credit sums held in the reserve account to the balance owed to the consumer. The defendants may still bill and collect all money due under existing leases subject to the terms of the agreement.
The defendants must also pay King's office a sum of $135,000 as part of the agreement.
The final issue of credit card payments will be presented to the presiding judge for final determination.