SEATTLE -- A Redmond-based Internet web service company which failed to deliver promised services has agreed to stop misrepresenting its services and pay restitution to consumers, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said today.
A lawsuit was filed against Internet Advancement (IA) along with a simultaneous settlement in King County Superior Court. IA also does business as 4GreatBuys.com. Others named in the suit and settlement include Todd Wickham, Chief Executive Officer of Internet Advancement, Ken Committee, President, and Ernesto Villamor, Secretary and Treasurer.
Internet Advancement advertises and sells what it calls “search engine optimization services,” which allegedly allow a business to get top placement on major search engines, such as Yahoo, Google and AOL. Businesses which market and sell their products over the Internet often rely on search engines to lead potential customers to their websites in order to generate more sales.
Internet-based business packages offered by IA promised to get customers top 10 to 20 placement on the search engines for charges ranging from $980 - $1,500 in “set-up” fees, and monthly fees ranging from $79.80 to $89.95.
Consumers who purchased the service complained that they were unable to get the placement promised, unable to get refunds and that the company was unresponsive to their complaints.
The AG’s office, the FTC and the BBB received more than 100 complaints from consumers across the country.
“Internet Advancement misrepresented its success rate, promised more than it could deliver, then refused to provide refunds to customers who didn’t get what they paid for,” said Gregoire.
The complaint also alleges that IA made unauthorized charges on customers’ credit cards after the customer tried to cancel the service, failed to respond to consumer complaints and sent spam to attract businesses with the misleading subject line, “Final Attempt!”
The settlement requires IA to stop its illegal practices, clearly disclose the terms of its refund program and respond promptly to consumer inquiries.
As part of the settlement, consumers who filed a complaint will be entitled to a refund, depending upon the amount each consumer claimed. The settlement also calls for the payment of $24,432 in costs and fees to the state and a $25,000 civil penalty.