CITY HALL — A long-standing series of claims against a former retailer accused of failing to deliver purchased televisions was recently resolved in what officials called the largest payback in city history.
In a settlement totaling more than $145,000, nearly 100 former customers of TV Authority, whose office and retail space is currently being subleased by the Santa Monica Daily Press, have received a full refund on merchandise for which they paid but never received, said Eda Suh, a deputy city attorney.
The agreement was reached between both parties just a few weeks ago and the restitution soon began pouring in to City Hall, which distributed the refunds to the customers. As part of the settlement, the 14 charges filed against TV Authority — two counts for operating without a business license and 12 counts in violation of a state law that makes it a crime for online and telephone sellers to receive a payment without shipping the goods or providing a refund within 30 days — were dropped.
“Our goal from the beginning was to make sure the consumers received a refund and we were able to get those results,” Suh said.
An attorney for the former owners of TV Authority, which went out of business in 2007, did not return a call requesting comment.
City Hall in 2006 began receiving complaints from customers who said they paid thousands of dollars for electronics that were never delivered. The Consumer Protection Unit with the City Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against the owners of the business in 2007.
The business had experienced problems meeting the volume of orders starting in 2006, according to Suh.
“We believe they had issues with the inventory but we can’t say for sure,” she said.
The court in January of last year ordered the business to cease its online advertisements and post a notice letting the public know that its operations were being investigated, which led to more complaints being filed, Suh said.
The City Attorney’s Office later received a full customer list for the business and contacted about 5,000 people whom they believed could be victims. Doing so increased the number of complaints to nearly 100.
“We are pleased that the business owners were willing to cooperate and do the right thing,” Suh said. “In these uncertain economic times, each dollar returned is sure to help.”