Seattle - July 1, 1999- Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire today announced that Sleep Country USA has agreed to stop using deceptive advertising, including a false claim that its prices are "the lowest ever in Sleep Country’s history."
"Without accurate information, consumers can’t make informed choices," said Gregoire. "Our investigation found Sleep Country ads were misleading and deceptive."
The Kent-based mattress retailer is known for its extensive radio and television advertisements featuring firm president Sunny Kobe Cook. Without admitting any wrongdoing, Sleep Country signed a consent decree that bans the use of any more misleading ads. The company also agreed to pay $22,500 in civil penalties, $10,000 to the Attorney General’s consumer education fund, and $30,000 in attorney costs and fees.
The consent decree also outlines industry-wide advertising guidelines which are intended to provide consumers with better information for their buying decisions.
According to Gregoire, her office’s investigation found that Sleep Country’s advertisements:
- Claimed their prices were the lowest in history when they were really only the lowest in the last year.
- Described mattresses still being manufactured new as "discontinued."
- Offered so-called "bargain" prices for luxury mattresses that were actually sold at regular prices.
The consent decree also requires Sleep Country to use an independent contractor to conduct at least two "mystery" shoppings per year for two years to ensure its sales representatives are not using bait and switch sales tactics. The Attorney General’s Office must approve the questions to be asked and will review the shopping reports.
The court order will prohibit Sleep Country from claiming it negotiated "big discounts" on certain mattresses when some are sold at the regular price; advertising the sale "ends Monday night at 9" when it really doesn’t; claiming to "have a problem" and need to clear away excess inventory when the demand for mattresses has not really been exceeding the supply; and claiming prices are a "fraction" of the usual price unless discounts are at least 20% off the regular price.
Sleep Country cooperated in the AG’s investigation and began changing advertising practices earlier this year.
For more information or to file a complaint contact the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 551-4636, (800) 833-6384 for hearing impaired