Missouri Curbs Unauthorized Credit Card Charges
Related to Trudeau
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
The Missouri Attorney General has obtained an assurance of voluntary compliance under which two companies that sell products through TV infomercials featuring Kevin Trudeau have provided almost $1,100 in refunds to Missouri consumers and will change the way they do business. The agreement (shown below) resolves accusations that the company repeatedly charged customers for merchandise they did not order. Natural Cures uses infomercials to sell Trudeau's books. But many who ordered books complained that they were also given a subscription for a newsletter they did not order, followed by repeated bills for the newsletter. Natural Cures, Inc., which also does business as ITV Global Inc., has agreed to stop (a) charging for items not requested, (b) using consumer bank or credit card accounts for unauthorized billing, (c) charging more than the amounts advertised, and (d) delaying delivery of requested products. The agreement also called for payment of $2,000 in costs and a suspended $10,000 assessment that would be charged if the defendants violate the agreement. Complaints about Trudeau products and overcharges are widespread. Quackwatch has received several, and infomercialscams.com has posted more than 600.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COLE COUNTY
STATE OF MISSOURI
ASSURANCE OF VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE
COMES NOW Plaintiff State of Missouri , at the relation of Attorney General Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, by and through his Assistant David Angle and Defendants Natural Cures, Inc. and their affiliates, subsidiaries, and parent companies, and request this Court to approve this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance on the following terms:
1. Jurisdiction This Court is the proper Court of venue and jurisdiction under the Merchandising Practices Act, Chapter 407 RSMo1. This Court has jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter of this action. The Court has the power to enter this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance pursuant to ' 407.100 and does so with the consent of the parties.
1All references are to Missouri Revised Statutes 2000.
2. Severability If any provision of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is declared invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the rest of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance shall remain in full force and effect and shall not be affected by such declaration.
3. Changes No changes shall be made to this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance unless made in writing and signed by all parties hereto.
4. Scope of Agreement This Assurance of Voluntary Compliance embodies the entire agreement and understanding of the parties hereto with respect to the subject matter contained herein.
5. Applicability of Agreement This Assurance of Voluntary Compliance shall apply to Natural Cures, Inc., ITV Global, Inc., and their affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, officers, agents, employees, representatives, assigns, successors in interest and other individuals acting on their behalf or at their direction. All of the foregoing shall be encompassed herein by the use of the term “Defendants.”
6. Governing Law This Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is entered into pursuant to the laws of the State of Missouri and shall be governed by and construed in accordance with same.
7. Non-Approval Defendants shall not represent to any person, natural or otherwise, that the Attorney General sanctions, endorses or approves of any methods, acts, uses practices or solicitations undertaken by or on behalf of Defendants.
8. Presentation to the Court The Attorney General, and Defendants agree that Plaintiff will file this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the Court and will seek approval from the Court for this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
9. Notice and Waiver of Service The parties agree that execution of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance constitutes actual notice of the terms and provisions of the same, and thus Defendants expressly waive service of a copy thereof.
10. Purpose of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance Defendants advertise the sale of health-related products and information through media including commercial television advertisement. The Attorney General alleges that Defendants' sales practices were deceptive and/or unfair including the following: consumers were charged for items not requested by the consumer~ consumers' bank and credit information were accessed by Defendants for purposes which consumers did not authorize; consumers were unable to obtain refunds~ consumers were unable to reach Defendants to inquire about refunds~ consumers were charged amounts in excess of the amounts advertised by Defendants~ and consumers did not receive items they purchased in a reasonable time frame. Defendants deny that their sales practices were deceptive or unfair and enter into this agreement for the purposes of avoiding the expense and uncertainty of further enforcement action by the Attorney General. This Assurance of Voluntary Compliance resolves past complaints relating to Defendants' sales practices.
II. Recommendation The Attorney General and Defendants recommend that the Court approve this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and enter judgment in accordance with the terms thereof.
12. Restitution Already Paid Defendants have responded to the Attorney General's inquiry and investigation by providing restitution to consumers who suffered monetary loss and who complained to the Office of the Attorney General prior to entry of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. The total amount refunded by Defendants in this capacity is $1093.60
13. Prohibited Practices Natural Cures, Inc. and their affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, officers, agents, servants, employees, sales persons, representatives, assigns, successors in interest and other individuals acting on their behalf or at their direction agree that they will not engage in practices that violate Section 407.020 in connection with the sale of merchandise including the following:
a. Charging consumers for item(s) not requested~
b. Accessing consumers' bank and credit information for purpose(s) which the consumers did not authorize;
c. Hindering consumers' attempts to inquire and/or obtain refunds through means including but not limited to failing to provide refunds in a reasonable manner and/or providing false information to consumers concerning refunds;
d. Charging amounts in excess of the amounts advertised; and
e. Failing to deliver items purchased by consumers in a reasonable time frame.
14. Future Restitution Defendants are jointly and severally liable for and shall pay to the credit of the Merchandising Practices Restitution Fund all amounts demanded by the Attorney General as restitution for consumers who file a complaint in good faith with the Office of the Attorney General. Nothing contained in this provision shall limit the future relief available to the Attorney General in the event of a violation of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
15. Civil Penalties Defendants are jointly and severally liable for and shall pay civil penalties in the amount of $ I 0,000.00. Payment of the assessed civil penalties shall be suspended. If this Court finds that Respondents have violated the terms of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, Respondents shall be liable to make payment of the suspended civil penalties to the State of Missouri to the credit of the Treasurer of Cole County. Nothing in this provision shall limit the future relief available to the Attorney General in the event of a violation of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
16. Costs and Fees Defendants are jointly and severally liable for and shall pay the sum of $2,000.00 to the State of Missouri to the credit of the Merchandising Practices Revolving Fund to reimburse the Attorney General for attorneys' fees and costs incurred by the Attorney General in the investigation and enforcement of the Merchandising Practices Act and to provide funds for consumer education and advocacy programs. Payment shall be made at the time this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is executed by Defendants. Defendants shall also be jointly and severally liable for and shall pay all fees and costs of the Attorney General regarding any future restitution demands. Nothing in this provision shall limit the future relief available to the Attorney General in the event of a violation of this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
17. Further Proceedings Jurisdiction is retained for the purpose of enabling any party to this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance to apply to the Court to enforce the provisions herein. Such enforcement may include but is not limited to an action to obtain a civil penalty or to collect a suspended civil penalty. The Attorney General is not restrained from initiating further investigations or legal proceedings based upon conduct arising after the date this A VC is executed by the parties, including, but not limited to, an action for an injunction, restitution, or other relief.
18. Signature and Recommendation The parties, in agreement with the foregoing, affix their signatures below, attest to their authority to enter into this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, consent to entry of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, and recommend the Court approve this
Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.
(signature page follows)
JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON
David Angle #3 937
Assistant Attorney General
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
President, Natural Cures, Inc.
2320 Touhy Drive
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
President, lTV Global, Inc.
55 Cherry Hill Dr., Suite 200
Beverly, MA 01915
SO ORDERED AND APPROVED:
Judgment entered this 19th day of February, 2008.
This page was posted on March 6, 2008.