Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Feb 15 2005

SEATTLE -- Billing complaints for on-line advertising that was never ordered have flooded the Seattle Consumer Resource Center (CRC) of the Washington Attorney General’s office in the last two weeks.

Attorney General Rob McKenna is cautioning consumers about receiving bills for on-line advertising that they may not have affirmatively ordered. Complainants said they received a bill for $399 from a business they had never heard of, for a service they had never purchased. As of Feb 14th, the CRC had received nearly 50 complaints.

“Consumers have a right to refuse to pay bills for services they never ordered,” McKenna said. “They did the right thing by calling us.”

Businesses ranging from apartment rentals to transportation received bills from an outfit claiming to be a Seattle directory service. All of the businesses billed were members of chambers of commerce from Bainbridge Island, Ballard, Bellevue, Maple Valley and Seattle. Chamber employees said they did not know how its members’ names and addresses were acquired.

Some complainants said they received multiple bills demanding payment, and that they could not reach anyone from the business to refute the bills. So far no one has reported paying the invoices. Inquiries from the AG’s office have also received no response from the business.

The Unsolicited Goods Act (RCW 19.56.020) states: If unsolicited goods or services are provided to a person, the person has a right to accept the goods or services as a gift only, and is not bound to return the goods or services. Goods or services are not considered to have been solicited unless the recipient specifically requested, in an affirmative manner, the receipt of the goods or services according to the terms under which they are being offered. Goods or services are not considered to have been requested if a person fails to respond to an invitation to purchase the goods or services and the goods or services are provided notwithstanding. If the unsolicited goods or services are either addressed to or intended for the recipient, the recipient may use them or dispose of them in any manner without any obligation to the provider, and in any action for goods or services sold and delivered, or in any action for the return of the goods, it is a complete defense that the goods or services were provided voluntarily and that the defendant did not affirmatively order or request the goods or services, either orally or in writing.

Washington Consumers who receive bills for products or services they did not order, should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-551-4636 or www.atg.wa.gov.


For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, (206) 464-6432, KristinA1@atg.wa.gov