N.C. Attorney General Takes Action Against Carolina Furniture
Posted May 2, 2003 9:12 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina furniture company that collected payments from consumers for furniture orders they never fulfilled has been ordered to stop, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Thursday.
"Carolina Furniture took money from hundreds of consumers but failed to deliver the furniture as promised," said Cooper. "This company took many orders from customers across the country who were attracted by North Carolina furniture's world-class reputation. We can't allow shady dealers to give our great furniture industry a bad name."
At Cooper's request, Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has temporarily stopped Carolina Furniture of Calabash and its owner, Henry Privette, from collecting consumers' money until their furniture has been delivered.
The defendants must turn over financial records to the Attorney General's office, including an accounting of all furniture not yet delivered and all payments made by customers. Cooper is also seeking a court order that will compel Carolina Furniture to cancel contracts, stop collecting payment in advance and reimburse consumers.
Cooper contends that Carolina Furniture and Privette show a pattern of deceptive sales practices that violate both North Carolina law and Federal Trade Commission rules that govern purchases made by telephone and mail. As alleged in the complaint, Privette began advertising his furniture business online no later than Nov. 2000 using a High Point address although his storefront is located in Calabash. When consumers called or sent in their orders, Carolina Furniture required them to pay half of the total price with the balance due when the furniture was ready to be shipped.
According to consumers whose furniture orders did not arrive when promised, Privette failed to let them know that their order would be delayed. He also refused to give them the option of canceling for a full refund in violation of FTC rules.
In some cases, Carolina Furniture told consumers that their furniture was ready for delivery and accepted their full payment but still failed to deliver the furniture or pay refunds. Carolina Furniture continued to collect advance payments for furniture orders it never fulfilled despite warnings from Cooper that the practice was illegal.
Approximately 470 consumers from across the country complained to Cooper's
Consumer Protection office
about Carolina Furniture's business practices. Of those consumer complaints, 380 remain unresolved because Carolina Furniture has refused to either deliver the furniture as promised or give consumers back their money. Cooper hopes to secure refunds for consumers in court although refunds are not imminent at this time.
"We want consumers who order North Carolina furniture to get what they pay for," said Cooper. "Before you place an order or pay a dime, check out the company by calling my office."
Consumers with complaints about Carolina Furniture and MillerburnsFurniture.com can call the N.C. Attorney General's Office at (919) 716-6001 (option2).