Online Sellers Need to Beware of State Attorneys General


The Pennsylvania Attorney General filed a consumer protection lawsuit last month against Zoommania, LLC, a Philadelphia-based Internet electronics store, for a bait-and-switch scheme the company allegedly employed in online sales and for its creation of new websites to avoid negative customer feedback resulting from the scheme.

The complaint, which seeks restitution for consumers, alleges that the company’s websites would list inventory as being in stock, but when a consumer placed an order, he or she would receive a subsequent call or e-mail that the item requested was not in stock. A company representative would inform the consumer that he or she could receive the item in a timely manner by upgrading to a “kit” – i.e. a more costly bundled purchase of the requested item and other items. Without the upgrade, the company could not promise timely delivery. Not surprisingly, this tactic was not well received by customers who proceeded to fire off complaints on online forums, including on Yahoo and CNET. In response to all the negative feedback, the company merely set up new websites under which to operate, using the same bait-and-switch scheme.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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