CHARLESTON - State Attorney General Darrell McGraw recently filed suit against IGIA Inc., alleging that the company overcharged consumers who were trying to purchase vacuum cleaners over the phone.
The suit was filed Dec. 14 in Kanawha Circuit Court by Jill Miles, head of McGraw's Consumer Protection Division. It seeks injunctive relief, investigative costs, damages, restitution for all affected consumers, attorneys fees and civil penalties.
It alleges that IGIA and President Prem Ramchandani doubled the amount each consumer ordered and subsequently charged extra.
"Consumers should always be wary of ordering merchandise in response to television infomercials. Slick advertising on a widely viewed channel does not necessarily mean the merchant is reputable or trustworthy," McGraw said in a press release.
IGIA advertised their Singer Lazer Storm, Wind Storm, Windstorm and Milinex Power Storm vacuums on TV and over the Internet, asking for three monthly installments totaling $119.85, the lawsuit says.
It adds that the advertisements claimed purchasers would get a second vacuum, a Wet-Vac and steamer accessories for free.
However, McGraw claims that when consumers called to order and were asked by an automated system how many vacuums he or she wanted, it would double the amount. McGraw says people who ordered one were charged for two and people who ordered two were charged for four, with no way to change the order.
He adds that IGIA did not provide refunds when the complaints started, and that the Federal Trade Commission sued IGIA subsidiary Tactica International in 2004. The subsequent consent decree forced it to pay $300,000 in civil penalties and provide prompt refunds when requested.
Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2643