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Post date: November 13 2000

Discount Mattress Dealer Forced To Reform Ad Claims

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with a leading discount mattress dealer accused of false advertising and deceptive business practices.

Spitzer found that Resnick's Mattress Outlet., Inc. - which operates in the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys and the Capital Region - repeatedly ran advertisements offering specifically displayed mattresses for $29.95 to $59.95. When customers sought to purchase the advertised mattresses, Resnick's would discourage them by disparaging the quality of the mattress or by not stocking enough to meet demand. Resnick's sales people would then steer those customers to more expensive mattresses.

"Bait and switch advertising involves the advertising of an item at a very low price to lure consumers into the store and then switching the customer to a far more expensive model by stating that the advertised product is unfit or unavailable."

"It's an age-old sales tactic that gives an unfair competitive advantage to a business over its competitors by using false promises in its advertising to entice customers into its stores," Spitzer said. "My office is fighting to protect the integrity of the marketplace, to level the playing field for competitors and to ensure that consumers have clear, non-misleading information from which to make purchasing decisions."

The Attorney General found that Resnicks' advertising was misleading because it left the impression with consumers that all mattress purchases qualified for its advertised free frame, free delivery and free removal policy, when in fact, the offer did not apply to the advertised mattresses, but was limited to only certain specifically prepackaged mattress sets.

Spitzer's office also found that Resnick's deceptively claimed that it would double someone's money back if a consumer could buy a mattress for less from a competitor within 100 miles.

Resnick's stores are primarily stocked with mattresses manufactured by and exclusively for Resnick's stores. The few remaining non-Resnick manufactured mattresses carried in Resnick's stores are only rarely available at competitor stores within a 100 mile radius.

In settling the case, Resnick's agreed to cease the deceptive advertising and make significant changes to its practices including ensuring that the company does not engage in "bait and switch" tactics and does not mislead consumers regarding the nature or value of a product.

Resnick's also agreed to clarify in its ads the limitations and conditions of its offer for free frame, delivery and removal. It also will cease claiming that it will provide a money back guarantee on mattresses that consumers could purchase for less from a competitor unless it can substantiate the offer. In addition, Resnick's will provide a five-year warranty with any mattress it offers for $100 or less.

Resnick's agreed to pay $10,000 in costs to the Attorney General's Office.

This case was handled by Associate Attorney General Robert Vawter and Assistant Attorney General Mark Fleischer of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

Individuals with complaints about false advertising or any consumer matter are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.