AG Charges Two Web-Based Electronics Retailers With Bait-and-Switch
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged two online digital camera and electronics retailers with conducting an unlawful bait-and-switch sales scheme.
Yesterday’s enforcement action seeks restitution for Texas residents who suffered financially because of the defendants’ unlawful conduct.
According to state investigators, Broadway Photo, L.L.C. and Starlight Camera & Video Inc., both of Brooklyn, N.Y., attempted to attract customers by offering the lowest retail prices on price-comparison websites. Once customers selected merchandise and made credit card purchases via the defendants’ websites, customers were notified that their orders had been processed.
Despite the order-processing notice, customers were subsequently asked to call a specified telephone number to confirm their orders. Rather than use the calls to confirm customers’ orders, the defendants instead initiated aggressive, high-pressure sales pitches promoting over-priced accessories, including memory cards and batteries.
The defendants’ telemarketers insisted the upgraded accessories were needed in order for the customers’ confirmed merchandise to function normally, the AG’s Office said.
When customers refused the offers, the defendants told customers the confirmed merchandise was substandard and lacked warranties. The defendants’ telemarketers encouraged customers to purchase different, more expensive products.
If customers again refused, the defendants canceled the orders, claiming the products were indefinitely back-ordered. When the defendants actually did ship orders, customers who intended to purchase new merchandise often received used or refurbished products.
The Office of the Attorney General is seeking injunctions halting this conduct and civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.