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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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I started a business a couple of months ago of an online medically

Customer Question

I started a business a couple of months ago of an online medically directory w/listings of local doctors, dentist, etc. They have received a free listing on my onLine medical (without authorization but from public info), & to continue the listing it is $45 yearly. I am providing them a service & once the invoice is paid they receive an additional year listing. I know that I can not make an invoice that demands payment or I could get in trouble as a "scam" but I don't want to not have it look like an invoice either. Can I get in trouble with the attorney general? Here is a sample invoice:
My Business Name & Address     
INVOICE STATEMENT
INVOICE # INVOICE DATE:
BILLING:   DOCTORS NAME & ADDRESS     
DESCRIPTION     AMOUNT
12 Month Business Directory Listing in Online Medical Guide     45.00
Make all checks payable to Medical Guide
Please make payment within 20 days to avoid interruption of business listing.
See your business directory listing at: medicalguide.com
Questions call XXX-XXX-XXXX
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
HiCustomer

which state do you operate in? Also, which states are the medical providers located in?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

All in Florida and the Tampa Bay Area.

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
Hi again:

I understand what you are going for, and it sounds like you are aware that you are trying to walk a very fine line. The problem with the title "invoice" is it implies a charge for services already rendered. I recognize that your "invoice" only accounts for future services, but you are at the very least begging for a class action suit against you. I would be worried that the state attorney general would at least investigate this, as well they should in any case where the consumer is potentially being tricked into making payments.

Even a statement as simple as "this is not a bill", or other language directly or indirectly clarifying that you do not claim a legal right to the charge would improve your case, but I can't recommend that you proceed as-is.

Let me know if more information is needed, and please remember to click "accept". Thank you.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12235
Experience: Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
Brandon M. and 9 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Can only a class action suit be brought against you by the people who paid you or the people invoiced who didn't pay?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Can a class action suit only be filed by the people who paid or the people who were invoiced? I will stop this business immediately, but not sure how to stop the damage from the 120 invoices already sent.

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
Hi again:

first of all, if you only sent out 120, the odds are extremely low that anything bad will materialize. I also would not suggest just stopping the business if you believe that there is profitability there--instead, consider sending a letter stating that the listed party has received a free subscription, and that after XX amount of time, they will be sent a renewal option. Anyone who has ever had a magazine subscription gets one of these when their subscription is up. That way, they are already invested and you are upfront about the service that is being provided and what they are being billed for it; you can warn them that their subscription is about to expire, etc., and that they can only continue for the affordable annual charge of $45.

But I digress. To deal with the 120 already sent, it can be solved as simply as a follow-up letter informing the recipient (1) that the letters were sent in error, and (2) that they have not been billed. Hypothetically, anyone who received the invoice could (but not necessarily "would") have a civil action against you. I say "could" instead of "would" because your position is potentially defensible; it's just better to have no lawsuit at all against you instead of having a lawsuit against you and winning.

I hope that is all clear. Let me know if further explanation is needed.

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