If you live in Washington and purchased products or services described below, you may be eligible for a refund or restitution as part of a settlement.
In many cases, consumers must submit valid claims in order to receive payment. In some situations, payment is sent directly to affected consumers whose contact information is on file with the company or the Attorney General’s Office.
Click on the links below for more information about eligibility and how to submit a claim.
Background: The Attorney General's Office filed a court order signed by T-Mobile and effective nationwide that will ensure the company clearly communicates the limitations of its new “no-contract” wireless service plans and allows customers duped by the deceptive ads to exit their contracts with no penalty.
Eligibility: All consumers who purchased telephone equipment from T-Mobile, under a contract requiring monthly payments for phone equipment and a wireless service plan, between March 26 and April 25, 2103 are eligible to:
- Cancel their service plans without being required to pay the remaining balance owing on their devices or telephones at the time of cancellation; and
- Obtain a refund of their down payment.
To access this relief, consumers must:
- Cancel their service plan within 30 days of receiving notice from T-Mobile; and
- Return the working device or telephone with in 14 days of cancellation to the T-Mobile location where it was purchased (i.e., to the store in which the device was purchased or, for web and telephone sales, by UPS delivery).
Consumers who return their device or telephone via UPS delivery must bring their equipment to a UPS location. It will then be delivered to T-Mobile free of charge.
T-Mobile will cancel the consumer’s service when initially requested, and will provide a refund to the consumer for any payments made for the telephone or device plus any down payment made upon receipt of the consumer’s equipment.
T-Mobile will contact eligible consumers via the e-mail associated with the account. If the e-mail bounces back, they will contact the consumer by mail.
For more information, eligible consumers may call T-Mobile at 1-877-746-0909 (or dial 611 from their T-Mobile phone).
News Release: Attorney General says “No Dice” to T-Mobile’s deceptive “No-Contract” advertising
Background: The Washington Attorney General's Office negotiated a stipulated judgment with several providers of search-engine optimization, shopping cart integration and Web design and hosting services.
Eligibility: Restitution is available for small businesses nationwide, not just customers in Washington state.You may be eligible for a refund if you bought services from any of these companies and can provide proof of payment.
- White Crane Technologies
- TNT Cart
- Strada Technologies
- Cybercom Technologies
- Wizy-Wiz eCommerce
- ABC eCommerce
The companies were operated by Jeremy Avey, Alexander Martin and Brent Stanphill.The state doesn’t have a way to directly contact those former customers about their eligibility because the defendants claim to have lost their contact information for their former customers who may be eligible for restitution.
Refunds are only available to those whose complaints concern issues prior to Dec. 3, 2010. Businesses or individuals who already submitted complaints to the Attorney General’s Office do not have to submit new documentation, unless requested.
Eligible businesses should file a consumer complaint on the Washington Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx and request a refund. Refund requests will be accepted for a year – up until March 29, 2012. Payments will be mailed after that date.
Background: The Washington Attorney General's Office negotiated a stipulated judgment with the operator of www.storybooklane.com.
Eligibility: Restitution is available for consumers nationwide, not just customers in Washington state.
Eligible consumers should file a consumer complaint on the Washington Attorney General’s Web site at http://www.atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx and request a refund. Consumers who have submitted complaints to the Attorney General’s Office of any state or a Better Business Bureau do not have to submit new documentation, unless requested.
FREEDOM DEBT RELIEF
Background: The Washington Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with Freedom Debt Relief over allegations of sometimes charging consumers more than the state’s Debt Adjusting Act allows, taking fees before the time permitted by the statute and failing to adequately inform some consumers about how the program works. The company denied the state's allegations but agreed to a restitution program.
Eligibility: Washington residents who enrolled in Freedom Debt Relief’s program may be eligible for refunds of paid fees if they fit in one of these groups:
- Those who QUIT the program before the company negotiated a proposed settlement for any of their enrolled debts. They are eligible for a refund of all fees paid to the company.
- Those who a) DIDN’T COMPLETE the program, b) quit after the company negotiated a proposed settlement and c) whose net fees paid to the company exceed 15 percent of the enrolled debts that were negotiated. They are eligible for a partial refund.
- Those who a) are STILL PARTICIPATING in the program and b) whose net fees paid to the company exceed 15 percent of enrolled debts that have been settled or remain in active negotiation. They are eligible for a partial refund.
- Those who a) are STILL PARTICIPATING in the program but b) QUIT prior to 30 days from the time they receive notice of this settlement (without completing the program). They are eligible for a partial refund.
- Those who a) COMPLETED THE PROGRAM and b) whose net fees paid to the company exceed 15 percent of enrolled debts. They are eligible for a partial refund.
Consumers who already received refunds for all paid fees aren’t eligible for additional restitution under this settlement.
The refund program will be handled through a parallel, private class-action lawsuit on behalf of Washington consumers, which is also in the process of settlement [as of 3/3/11]. The case is Carlsen et al. v. Freedom Debt Relief, LLC, et al., Case No. CV-09-00055-LRS (E.D. Wash.) Once the court in that case gives approval, eligible consumers will be contacted about the refund process, how much money they are eligible to receive, and how to submit a claim.
Consumers who have questions about the refund program should contact The Scott Law Group in Spokane at 1-888-955-3966. Information is also online at www.thescottlawgroup.com/freedomdebtrelief.
Background: The Washington Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with Ascentive, LLC, over allegations of violating the state's Computer Spyware, Consumer Protection and Commercial Electronic E-mail Acts.
Eligibility: Washington consumers may be eligible for restitution if they meet the following criteria: 1) Purchased any Ascentive product in the past two years, 2) paid for both a back-up CD and the company’s Extended Download Service and 3) didn’t use either the back-up CD or the Extended Download Service.
Eligible consumers will receive an e-mail message within the next month from Ascentive with instructions on how to submit a claim for a refund. Consumers must print the message, sign and date where noted and mail the letter to Ascentive within 30 days from receipt. Those who submit timely claims will receive checks for approximately $17.90 plus tax.
Background: The Washington Attorney General's Office reached a settlement with DIRECTV over allegations of unfair business practices, in which the company agrees to improve its disclosures, resolve complaints and provide refunds.
Eligibility: Under the settlement, DIRECTV agrees to resolve complaints from Washington residents. Consumers are eligible for restitution or other appropriate relief if their complaint concerns conduct addressed by the settlement that occurred since Jan. 1, 2007, and the matter remains unresolved. There is also a window for new complaints that have not yet been submitted to the Attorney General or resolved by DIRECTV. If DIRECTV is unable to successfully resolve the complaint, the company will inform consumers of their right to have the issue referred to a claims administrator who will issue a decision resolving the complaint.
Consumers who believe they are eligible for relief under the settlement and have not already filed a complaint about DIRECTV with the Attorney General’s Office may do so online at www.atg.wa.gov by May 31, 2011. Consumers may also call the Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-551-4636 to request a complaint form be mailed to them. Calls are answered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.
Consumers who have already filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office about DIRECTV don't need to refile.
Note: A group of other attorneys general reached a settlement with DIRECTV that extends similar protections for residents of those state. If you do not live in Washington state, please contact the Attorney General's Office in your state concerning your eligibility.
WELLS FARGO/WACHOVIA/WORLD SAVINGS BANK
Background: Washington and seven other states reached a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank that provides loan modifications for residents in their states who obtained problematic mortgages from Wachovia Bank and Golden West Corp., which did business as World Savings Bank.
Eligibility: The agreement provides loan modifications for borrowers who received "Pick-A-Pay" option adjustable-rate morgages through Wachovia or through Golden West Corp., which did business as World Savings Bank. It does NOT apply to other mortgages obtained from Wells Fargo.
The agreement provides that between Dec.1, 2010, and June 30, 2013, Wells Fargo will offer modifications to qualified borrowers who are either 60 days delinquent or facing imminent default. Borrowers will first be considered for the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). If the borrower cannot qualify under HAMP or elects not to accept a HAMP modification, Wells Fargo will consider the borrower for its new modification program, known as MAP2R.
Modified loan terms will vary according to the circumstances of the borrower but can include principal forgiveness, loan extension, interest rate reduction and principal forbearance (which gives the borrower additional time to pay off the loan principal). Borrowers who remain current on their modified payments over three years will be able to earn additional principal forgiveness. Borrowers who qualify may also convert into a fixed-rate loan.
Under the agreement, Wells Fargo also makes a number of substantial servicing commitments for borrowers with pay option loans. These include:
- Ensuring adequately staffed help lines to serve consumers, including those who speak Spanish.
- Providing a single, primary point of contact to assist borrowers seeking modifications under the states’ agreement.
- Making decisions on modifications within 30 days of receiving a complete application.
- Establishing a formal second look or appeal process for borrowers who are turned down for a modification.
- Offering other foreclosure alternatives, including short sale, deed-in-lieu and relocation assistance.
Wells Fargo customers who originally took out mortgages through Wachovia or Golden West/World Savings Bank can call 1-888-565-1422 for more information about the program.
Foreclosure Relief: The settlement also includes $1.6 million for a foreclosure relief fund to be paid to the Washington Attorney General’s Office. The money could be used to provide refunds to individuals who lost homes or to assist with the state’s efforts to prevent or mitigate foreclosures. That has yet to be determined.