LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – Ace Hardware has been sued by a customer who accuses the company of violating its return policy.

Kimberly Hummer filed the lawsuit against Ace after she said she was unable to return an item despite being within the 60-day window and having a receipt. Hummer filed the class action lawsuit, for herself and for others similarly situated individuals, Oct. 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Class action litigation expert and attorney, Chuck Marshall, said that companies needed to honor their promises.

"Whenever a company puts something in writing they have to make sure that the policy is being enforced as it is written. You can't make promises to people publicly and then privately do something different,” Marshall told Legal Newsline.

The plaintiff has accused Ace Hardware of unfair competition. She alleges the company is misleading customers into buying from their stores with the “No hassle 60-day return with receipt” policy.

Marshall said for a complaint to fit under the Unfair Competition Act it had to be unfair, fraudulent and unlawful.

"In this case it might be fraudulent if they are misrepresenting their no-hassle 60-day return with receipt or it might be unfair if the policy that they are implementing doesn't allow people to return the goods for the promise," he said.

However, according to the Ace Hardware website, customers have been invited to take items they bought online through the company website to any of the Ace Hardware stores within 30 days of the original purchase date. It indicates they will be issued store credit.

Reports indicate Hummer purchased the item in question from an Ace Hardware location in Las Vegas and attempted to return it to a store in California where she was told she would be unable to do so.

"If you are a national chain store it is not unreasonable to expect that customers may want to return goods to locations that are convenient to them,” Marshall added. “These national chains, they ship goods back and forth between themselves all the time when they are trying to make a sale."

Marshall said if a customer had gone into an Ace Hardware store to make a purchase but the item they wanted was at another store, the original store would most likely offer to have it shipped over for the customer.

Marshall said if the case was won at an appeal level it would be more precedent setting but added, "If [Hummer] wins this case, then certainly other companies are going to have to take notice that they are going to have to make good on their promises.”

Hummer has filed for trial by jury, injunctive, equitable and declaratory relief, damages, restitution and disgorgement, treble damages, court costs and all relief the court grants. She will be represented by attorneys Todd Friedman and Adrian Bacon of the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman in Beverly Hills, California.

Ace Hardware Corporation told Legal Newsline in an email that it does not comment on pending litigation.

There are about 4,700 Ace Hardware stores around the world.

Marshall belongs to the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the American Bar Association and the Contra Costa Bar Association. He is licensed in California and Illinois.

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