An internet company selling foreign language software just agreed to pay $1 million for what the state Attorney General says was an introductory offer scam.
The state says Philadelphia-based Internet Order and its CEO Daniel Roitman turned an introductory offer into automatic charges for automatic shipments of foreign language software under the brand name The Pimsleur Approach.
Hal Brookings of Seattle is one of the Washington consumers who responded to an internet pitch from The Pimsleur Approach-- for an introductory offer of only $9.95. Brookings says about a month after he got his Spanish language CDs, more material turned up in the mail, along with new charges on his credit card account.
"I had been billed $64," said Brookings. "This was an ongoing program that I would get a new series of lessons every 60 days."
Investigators say the first offer was really negative option trap. Consumers weren't clearly told they were signing up for recurring shipments and charges unless they cancelled their agreement during the introductory window. To make matters worse, Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the company made it difficult for consumers to cancel.
"We think he's literally one of thousands of Washington State residents who were victimized by this scam," Ferguson said of Brookings after the initial lawsuit was filed.
According to Assistant Attorney General Paula Selis, who lead the investigation, some consumers were billed for multiple additional courses at $256 each.
"It was very clear from their advertising what they were attempting to do and they were successful, " said Selis. "Because most people had no clue that they were signing up for these advanced level CDs and were going to get billed for them."
The million dollar settlement is restitution for consumers across the country. If you already filed a complaint with the AG's office, you don't have to do anything.
But, if you were charged for language software you didn't order extra and have not filed a complaint -- contact the Attorney General as soon as possible. The claims period is expected to close in about 60 days.