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503-378-6002 or Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed a settlement agreement against a Nevada telemarketing company for allegedly misleading Oregon residents with multiple sales pitches concerning free gasoline vouchers. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance filed in Marion County Circuit Court is Continuity Partners, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada. The AVC admits no law violation.
"Not only did telemarketers working for this company blatantly lie to Oregonians answering their telephones but the company didn't bother to register as a telemarketer with the Department of Justice," Myers said. "Consumers must question any pitch made over the telephone and check out the details before ever agreeing to purchase anything."
Department of Justice investigators first received complaints in September 2003 from consumers who were told by Continuity Partners telemarketers that they had been selected to receive $200 in gasoline vouchers from the US government "to help pay people back for the high gas prices" and that they were redeemable at any of the major gas stations. Others were told the promotion was sponsored by VISA and yet another was told they were chosen in a random drawing of key customers of the major retailers. Consumers were told the total cost to them would only be a $1.95 charge for shipping and handling on their credit card.
Investigators found that none of the pitches were true and that consumers agreeing to the offers were actually signed up for a 30-day free trial of a "U-Talk Unlimited" phone card. If consumers didn't opt out of the plan at the end of 30 days, the company would place a charge on their credit cards. Other names connected to the company include American Values and Wellnet. The company explained to Justice that they had problems supervising an independent telemarketing room and immediately terminated them when problems arose.
Under the settlement, Continuity Partners agreed to make refunds to consumers sending written requests and to pay Justice $7,500 for its Consumer Protection and Education Fund. According to the company's records, 1,009 Oregonians accepted the offer from which the company collected approximately $59,000. The company has refunded more than $23,000.
Consumers wanting information about consumer protection in Oregon may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
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