Online Mattress Retailers Agree To Resolve Consumer Complaints
Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with the operator of two online mattress retailers to reform their business practices after dozens of consumers complained about extended delays in shipping and failure to honor return policies.
An investigation by Spitzer's office revealed that two mattress companies, Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep Systems - both operated by Frank Grillo of Highland in Ulster County - engaged in deceptive business practices and false advertising and violated the state's mail-order statute.
"It is important to hold online retailers to the policies and offers they tout on their web sites," Spitzer said.
At least 52 consumers filed complaints with Spitzer's office and with the Better Business Bureau in the past year about extended delays for deliveries of merchandise, failure to refund a customer's purchase price on returned mattresses, and failure to deliver promised merchandise.
Specifically, Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep Systems:
- Routinely violated a state law that requires 30-day delivery or a full refund for mail- and telephone-order merchandise. Some consumers, in fact, waited more than two months for their mattresses;
- Failed to deliver promised promotional items such as free pillows to consumers who made purchases through their web sites;
- Failed to honor their advertised 90-night sleep trial which included a 30 day policy for refunds. Making matters worse, the return policy failed to disclose to customers that they would bear the cost of returning their mattress, a significant expense.
Spitzer's office also raised concerns that Affordable Mattress Direct made false claims on its website in order to increase consumer confidence in the company. The company's website, www.affordablemattress.com stated: "PUBLIC NOTICE: America's Best has voted this site #1 out of the top 10 mattress sites on line today." In fact, Americasbest.com is a vanity web site that lists sites based on fees and never voted Affordable Mattress Direct the number one mattress website.
Grillo's companies have advertised exclusively over the internet under the addresses affordablemattress.com, quality-sleep.com, qsleep.com, sleepyz.com and supremecomfort.com. These companies specialize in non-traditional mattresses such as adjustable air beds, elastic foam beds, latex beds, softside or hardside waterbed mattresses, and adjustable beds.
Between Spitzer's office and the Better Business Bureau more than $30,000 in relief was secured for consumers, including chargebacks to credit card accounts. Specifically required by the settlement are refunds for thirteen individuals totaling over $14,000. Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep System also agreed to fulfill their obligation to deliver complimentary pillows to ten consumers who never received them.
In resolving the investigation, Grillo, the operator of both online mattress retailers, will pay $2,500 in civil penalties.
Individuals with complaints against Affordable Mattress Direct and Quality Sleep Systems are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755. Consumers have until April 1, 2005 to file a bona fide complaint with Spitzer's office to be eligible for restitution through this settlement.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office assisted by Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops.