Furniture Dealer Ordered To Stop Tricky Sales Practices
Posted May 30, 2003 2:31 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina furniture dealer who collected payments from consumers for furniture he never delivered has been ordered to stop taking any new furniture orders until he resolves all outstanding claims,
Roy Cooper announced Friday.
Hundreds of consumers from across the country paid this dealer for furniture, but he hasn't followed through with the orders as promised," said Cooper. "Now, a court has ordered him to stop taking money until he delivers the furniture."
At Cooper's request, Wake County Superior Court Judge James C. Spencer late Thursday blocked Carolina Furniture, Miller Burns International Home Furnishings and owner Henry Privette from taking new furniture orders until all current consumers have received their orders. The defendants are also barred from collecting payments from consumers who previously placed orders until he delivers their furniture. In addition, the preliminary injunction limits Privette's spending of corporate assets except for the purpose of delivering furniture to fulfill outstanding orders. The order applies to any business that Privette controls, operates or helps establish.
The injunction is the result of a suit filed by Cooper earlier this month alleging that Privette and his businesses violated both North Carolina laws and Federal Trade Commission rules that govern purchases made by telephone and mail. More than 500 consumers from across the country filed complaints with Cooper's office about Carolina Furniture, Miller Burns and related companies. Out of those complaints, 433 remain unresolved because Privette still owes consumers their furniture or refunds totaling nearly $800,000.
As alleged in the complaint, consumers who called or sent in their orders to one of Privette's companies were required to pay half of the total price up front 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 or give them the option of canceling for a full refund. In some cases, Privette told consumers that their order was ready for delivery and accepted their full payment but still failed to deliver the furniture or pay refunds.
"Dealers like Mr. Privette make it all too clear why consumers need to do their homework before they order furniture by telephone, by mail or over the Internet," advised Cooper. "Most North Carolina furniture companies do business the right way. To ensure that you get what you've paid for, check out the company with my office before you place your order."