Consumer Protection Law
Consumer Protection Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer Now.
Hi! LegalGems here. I have extensive consumer law experience and will use this to assist you with your issue today. How can I help you? I am sorry to hear of this. It sounds like you have been quite diligent in pursuing this. One moment please as I review the remainder of your question.
I would not rely on the Bureau, as there main role is issuing fines; so unless they are able to shut down (revoke the license) the company, they really will not offer much recourse. However, I am thinking a well worded demand letter, as there are a few statutes being violated here. Let me look into this.
I should point out I stopped paying this company ages ago. I've sent them a letter terminating our relations.
California has extra protections for senior citizens- are you by chance a senior?
Alas - not yet
The concern would be this popping out in the future in a collections case - for the full value of the contract.
Yes. Although for 3600 - are they really gonna hire a collections company when their own contract doesnt hold up.
Very possibly - because you would be surprised at how many creditors get default judgments on bogus debts.
I'm aware that should a collections company come calling i can send them a letter asking them not to call again and i can send them my copy of the contract and the copy of the contract the security company saiys it has- which by the way are starkly different. fraud even. So should I go file suit first or wait and see...
RE; you would be surprised at how many creditors get default judgments on bogus debts.
Really ? you mean the court favors the collections people ?
As for small claims, small claims does not have jurisdiction to void a contract - they only have jurisdiction to award monetary damages. So this would need to be brought in civil limited - which would be a hassle. I would wait and see, because again civil limited is rather expensive, and has many hoops to jump through - versus small claims. If they sue on the contract, they can go to small claims. In all likelihood, you would prevail, based on the contractual issues. However, I think a pre-emptive strike via a complaint letter, asking them to rescind the contract in writing, would be effective. I will explore this further in a moment so I can reply to your last question. The courts don't favor collections people, but many collection agencies will file suit, the alleged debtor does not show up (either because service was improper or because they were intimidated and weren't aware of their legal rights); the creditor gets a default judgment - and then the poor defendant has to deal with vacating the judgment (time consuming, stressful and expensive) - and this all assumes the defendant has the wherewithall to hire an attorney or self-represent.
I would also be concerned about your credit rating - yes, you could send the bureaus a copy of the contract if the company does report negatively, the bureaus would investigate, and then remove it - but again, a preemptive letter may help.
Just a moment please.
These people have been fined by the Bureau before so you'd think they'd improve but no.
The most they can be fined is 2500.
When we say the bureaus - do we mean the credit bureaus? I've never dealt with them. Should I pre emptively make them aware of my status with this company?
Here is a sample letter from the FTC. http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0296-sample-consumer-complaint-letter You can make it more detailed by included the information you have (Angie's List, the fines, etc), and attaching a copy of the statute that prohibits this type of conduct. Business and Profession Code 17500 http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=bpc&group=17001-18000&file=17500-17509 Then you can mention the common law causes of action: fraud in the inducement, deceit, misrepresentation. The damages for these are generally economic harm suffered by the plaintiff; if the fraud, etc is severe enough, the contract will be rescinded, in which case you may be entitled to past monies paid. To show that you are willing to work with them, you can say in lieu of pursuing a court action, you will be satisfied with a written statement that the contract is rescinded, and that they will not issue any negative reports to the credit bureaus.
Yes, the credit bureaus. No, they won't respond unless there is something filed by the creditor. That is my concern on this- often times people will pay off (or settle for a negotiated amount) something in order to avoid a negative rating.
And as for the fine- they probably did a cost/benefit analysis - more profitable to keep deceiving people, and pay the occasional fine. Not the most ethical of business practices...
Thats crazy. So how best do should I abate my fear of this company? I'll file a complaint with the FTC. Since I can prove that my contract and their contract are fraudulently different should I open a case with the lapd?
Generally the police stay out of this and tell you to handle it in civil court - you can call and inquire, but that unfortunately is my experience. Filing a complaint with the FTC will be helpful, but also sending the letter mentioned above to the company would be beneficial - because I would think the company would comply with this in order to avoid a lawsuit re: misrep etc (all the causes of actions mentioned above).
I know the bank has already blocked them from debiting your account, but you may want to close that account and open a new one- I'm not sure how unethical these people are, and them having this information (your personal banking information) is not recommended.
Also, generally in contract cases, the courts limit the award to economic damages (actual monetary damages suffered). However, in 2004, the California Supreme Court revisited the issue, and found that the tortious intentional misrepresentation lawsuit can result in punitive damages (damages above and beyond actual economic damages - to use the defendant as an example based on the intentional aspect of the issue). http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-supreme-court/1175967.html Robinson Helicopter Company v. Dana Corporation. You may want to reference that in the demand letter.
It appears that you have gone offline. Please let me know if you have any further questions and I will respond as soon as I see it. Thank you!
Hi- no worries- I was late in responding to you for the same reason! If you click on that link above, here one moment I'll relink you here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0296-sample-consumer-complaint-letter That letter serves as a model for you to formulate your letter. In case you end up in court, you would have the letter as further evidence of the issue. You would summarize everything - i.e . their misrepresentations, perhaps a copy of the BBB rating, etc. Then state that since their conduct constitutes intentional misrepresentation, deceit and fraud, you are requesting that they release you from - in writing- from any further obligation under the contract, and to agree to not make a negative credit report. If you cite the case I gave you above, you can mention that this would be an ideal solution for both parties - you, so you don't have to continue to deal with this; them, so they don't have to defend a lawsuit that may possibly include punitive damages. You can do a wait and see, but this can rear its head 4 years down the road, as that is the statute of limitations for breach of contract. If you do the letter, and they agree, then you can put this behind you and not worry about it at all.
Then you would need to follow through with a civil suit. However, generally if there is widespread fraud/misrepresentation, etc, the attorney general will get involved, as the purpose of the attorney general is to protect its citizens (versus an individual)- and if the widespread fraud is pervasive, they will either fine or shut down the business. Since the company seems indifferent to fines, they may pursue more aggressive legal action. Another option - since it is wide spread - is to see if any attorney would be interested in a class action. There's a website www.topclassactions.com where you can see if there are any pending issues. I'm surprised the company has continued to get away with this without any consequence. Another thing- if the letter is sent, it will help prove your case as far as the credit bureaus go; as it will show you had a grievance and attempted to resolve it, to no avail.
I would not worry to that degree. However, because these people are unscrupulous, you should periodically check your credit report. It's free, and you are entitled to one per year, from each agency - so it's a good idea to stagger it every 4 months - that way in case they have your personal info you will catch any misdeeds immediately.
Yes, but sometimes when you throw around legal terms (and a case name) they know you've talked to somebody, so it often (no guarantees!) gets better results. I've had private clients say they sent a demand letter to no avail (even a debt negotiation letter); then when I send one on my letterhead - the client is shocked at the quick response. It takes it up a level so to speak.
Since you'll be able to reference the law, they'll know you've been taking to an attorney, so this should help.
I'm from California but we aren't allowed to gain clientele from this site -it's against the terms and conditions of our contract with them. I can link you to the state bar's referral page.
Yes; feel free to request me - just put "To Legal Gems" in front of the question and the other professionals will leave it for me. Hopefully this company will realize it will be easier to count this one as a loss! I hope you do file with the attorney general, because if enough people do they are more likely to investigate.
Great. Good luck on all this. Take care.
Hi. We're now selling our home. We'll move address. There's nothing in this contract I can find that relates to changing address or ownership of the property.
The new buyer I assume will bring their own security firm on board and use our same equipment.
Thoughts appreciated - whenever you get a second
We haven't quite sold as yet
I'm considering hiring a handyman to reprogram the system and switch off the monitoring our end- if such a thing is possible.
Between that and the formal letter....
Exactly- the actual contract is incomplete - partially completed therefore...
you'd advise just sticking with the FTC letter etc.
Am I under obligation to reveal to potential new buyers of our property the legal issues surrounding this alarm monitoring contract?
Would they inherit the issue?
The document appears to only mention the relationship between subscriber and contractor - which I read as 'us and them. Not the address per se.'
So - no need to mention the sorry business at all ? Well, thats some relief.
I just filed with the FTC. Next up the Attorney General of California.
Thanks for your help!
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