Company Accused of Misrepresenting Products and Return Policies
SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced a settlement with CompuVest, a Renton-based corporation that sells computers via the Internet. The company will refund consumers and pay more than $20,000 to resolve allegations that it failed to honor warranties and misrepresented its products and return policies.
"Businesses have an obligation to fully disclose all terms in their return policies and warranties and honor those guarantees," McKenna said. "The Attorney General’s Office alerted CompuVest to our concerns more than a year ago, but customers continued to complain that they were charged fees for returning wrong orders and failed to receive full refunds or replacements for defective products."
CompuVest sells new, used and refurbished computers and other electronics online at www.compuvest.com.
McKenna said the agreement filed today in King County Superior Court does not include an admission or finding of wrongdoing, but helps assure CompuVest complies with the Consumer Protection Act. The company will pay $50,000 in civil penalties, with $40,000 suspended on condition that it comply with the settlement terms, and approximately $12,300 in legal costs and attorneys’ fees.
"CompuVest agrees to disclose its return policies, honor warranties and accurately describe products. The company will also refund consumers who have filed complaints with our office," McKenna said.
Today’s agreement concludes an investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit.
According to the state’s complaint, CompuVest’s return policy indicated that customers would be charged a 15 percent restocking fee for returned merchandise that is not defective. But the policy failed to state that the company would test returned items and charge a restocking fee and shipping fees for those it declared to be operable. The suit alleges that numerous customers who returned defective items were charged such fees. Customers were denied replacements for items still under warranty and told they would have to pay to have the item returned.
The state also alleged that CompuVest failed to deliver items when promised or make timely refunds for items that weren’t received. Product descriptions and compatibility information included misrepresentations; in some cases, products described as new were actually used or refurbished.
The Attorney General’s Office has received approximately 25 consumer complaints about CompuVest since the end of 2001. The Better Business Bureau also received complaints.
The agreement requires CompuVest to refund or otherwise adjust consumer complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office since January 2005 and those received during the next 180 days.
Consumers who believe they are entitled to a refund should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online at www.atg.wa.gov or call 1-800-551-4636 to request a complaint form. (Toll-free number only available in Washington state.)
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Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine Tassi, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 464-7744