Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that a Portland-based company that specializes in wind forecasts in the Columbia River Gorge and on the Oregon Coast must change its unlawful billing practices and refund more than 40 consumers for unauthorized credit card charges.
Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed today in Multnomah County Circuit Court are Larry Hambrick of Portland and his company Micro Forecasts, Inc. The assurance admits no law violations.
"Customers of Micro Forecasts trusted the company to use their credit card numbers only for authorized charges," Myers said. "They became concerned when average monthly bills of $40 jumped as high as $1,500."
The company, whose subscribers include wind surfers, truck drivers and fishermen, installed sensors along the Columbia Gorge and on the Oregon coast to produce live, immediate data on wind speeds and weather. The business also predicts future weather trends and operates a web site known as the Windsight Division of Micro Forecasts.
Customers established accounts and used credit cards to pre-pay for a specific amount of minutes of use. They then dialed an 800 number to access the wind speed and weather forecast information. Department of Justice investigators found no problems with the quality of the service but discovered more than $50,000 worth of unauthorized charges on customer accounts.
Under the terms of the assurance, Hambrick will change his billing practices and provide restitution to all customers who request refunds. The company must by November 25, 2000 mail a status report and refund information to all account holders who have 20 or more minutes of credit on their accounts. Hambrick will pay $2,000 to the Department's consumer education and protection fund.
Oregonians are reminded by Attorney General Myers to take the time to scrutinize credit and debit card billings for unauthorized charges and immediately report any problems, in writing, to the credit card companies.
Consumers wanting information about their rights as credit card holders should call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only), toll-free at 1-877-877-9392 or online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org