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Canada Firm to Pay $60,000 to Settle Suit

October 07, 1994|IRA E. STOLL

A Canadian company accused of trying to trick Ventura County residents into paying for merchandise they never really ordered agreed Thursday to pay $54,000 in penalties to the county.

The payment settled a lawsuit filed Thursday by the district attorney's office in Superior Court. The district attorney's office alleged that the company, Premium Appliance Warehouse, practiced false and misleading advertising and unfair business practices.

The company mailed official-looking "shipping authorization forms" to customers, who were asked to send checks to a Connecticut post office box so they could "claim" merchandise, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Schwartz said. Company headquarters are in a Toronto suburb.

Schwartz said many people called the post office or the district attorney's office to complain, but others simply sent in the money.

"Some of the people are on what you might call sucker lists," he said. "They think this must be the TV that they won or the vitamins that they ordered."

If customers sent about $17 to the appliance warehouse, they received a small package of trinkets such as a sewing kit, a miniature flashlight and costume jewelry, the district attorney's office said.

Premium Appliance Warehouse and its parent company, Guildwood Direct Limited, did not admit any wrongdoing, and their attorney declined to comment.

But the firm agreed to pay $6,000 to a statewide fund for the prosecution of consumer fraud cases in addition to the $54,000 in penalties they paid the county. They also agreed to a permanent injunction prohibiting them from unlawful conduct in the future.

In addition, the company has refunded money to some consumers who complained.

The mailings were sent all over the U.S. and Canada, Schwartz said. Ventura County took the lead and joined with the state attorney general's office to settle the case statewide, he said.

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