Attorney General sues businesses for breaking telemarketing laws

3 years 6 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, March 05 2015 Mar 5, 2015 Thursday, March 05, 2015 9:49:00 AM CST March 05, 2015 in News
By: Christina Santiago, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney General Chris Koster announced a series of lawsuits against companies Thursday for violating Missouri's telemarketing and No Call laws.

Koster filed a civil lawsuit against AAA Anytime Duct Cleaning, its owners, and a St. Louis manager for abusive telemarketing practices and fraud. In addition to hundreds of No Call complaints, Missouri consumers said Anytime's telemarketers cursed at or threatened potential customers for refusing to purchase the company's air duct cleaning services.

Koster said Anytime engaged in various forms of consumer fraud, including a "bait and switch" scheme in which the company would advertise one price for air duct cleaning services, but charge another. In several examples, Anytime advertised a price of $44.95 to clean air ducts, but attempted to charge over $1,000. Consumers said the company regularly lied about about needing "super cleaning" services which cost thousands of dollars, or the need to install UV lights in their vents to kill mold, when neither service was actually needed.

Koster is asking the St. Louis County Circuit Court to permanently bar Anytime from telemarketing, advertising, or offering duct cleaning services in the state of Missouri. Earlier this week, the court issued a temporary restraining order barring Anytime from operating in the state until the next hearing in the case on March 12.

Koster also filed suits against two home improvement companies for calling consumers on the No Call list attempting to sell home improvement services. In the cases are against Minnesota-based EZ Home Solutions, Inc., and Integrity Home Solutions in Missouri, Koster is asking the court to impose up to $5,000 in penalties against the companies for each violation of the No Call law. Koster alleged that EZ Home Solutions falsely told consumers their registrations on the No Call list had become "inactive" or "expired." Registrations on the Missouri No Call list have no expiration date.

Koster also announced a settlement reached with Texas-based Touchstone Communications-II, LLC. Under the agreement, filed in Cole County Circuit Court, Touchstone has paid $18,000 and agreed to stop calling any Missouri number on the No Call List without the express permission or a business relationship with the person being called. Touchstone sells a variety of products by phone, including home security systems and home financing.

Missourians can register their telephone numbers with the Missouri No Call list online or by calling 866-No Call 1 (866-662-2551). To-date, Missourians have registered 4.5 million cell phone and landline numbers with the No Call list. Consumers who have registered for the No Call list but receive solicitation calls can file a complaint at 866-Buzzoff (866-289-9633) or online.

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