SPOKANE -April 1, 1998 - The Attorney General's Office today announced that a Connecticut company will pay almost $70,000 in refunds and fines for using high pressure sales and other deceptive practices to sell insulated replacement windows, doors and siding to elderly consumers in Washington and Idaho.
"This company deliberately intimidated older consumers to buy overpriced products they didn't need," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Many of these elderly victims were physically and emotionally vulnerable and unable to defend themselves against these deceptive tactics."
Homecraft Industries, which operates as Insul-Sash of America with a local sales office in Spokane, contacted consumers by mail or telephone offering to send a representative to their home for a free inspection of their windows, doors and siding. Consumers were unaware the free inspection would turn into a hard-sell presentation that would last from two to six hours.
"Often it is very hard for an elderly consumer to deal with an aggressive salesperson once they have invited someone into their home," said Gregoire. "They don't want to appear rude and will often agree to purchase the products as a way to politely get the sales person to leave."
As part of the consent decree, which was filed in Spokane County Superior Court, Insul-Sash, will pay $50,000 in consumer refunds, $18,176 in legal costs. The court order requires the company to cease its high pressure sales tactics; to quit misrepresenting to consumers that they qualify for lower finance rates as a tactic to get them to sign a contract; and, to stop putting up obstacles to contract cancellations when lower financing rates are denied.
Twenty-three Washington and three Idaho consumers filed complaints against the company. One Washington consumer paid more than $6,000 to replace one window and a door—about six times their actual value according to the estimates of two experts. Other consumers complained that once windows were installed, some were susceptible to leaks and moisture inside the glass or did not close or lock properly.
Consumers who purchased products from Insul-Sash have until June 29, 1998 to file a claim with the Attorney General's Office by calling 1-800-551-4636 or 1-800-833-6384 for the hearing impaired).