TRENTON, N.J. - A company known for its "As Seen on TV" products including the Pocket Hose has reached a settlement with state officials who said it used high-pressure sales tactics and made it difficult for customers to get refunds.
Telebrands Inc., whose products include the PediPaws pet nail trimmer and the non-spill Wow Cup, has agreed to revise its interactive voice response ordering system and other business practices, state consumer affairs officials announced Monday.
But wait, there's more: The company has to pay the state $550,000.
Investigators said they bought Insta Bulb battery-operated light bulbs, the Olde Brooklyn Lantern and the Pocket Hose as part of their probe into Telebrands, based in Fairfield.
Telebrands, whose products are designed to save consumers time and money through convenient solutions to everyday problems, calls itself the largest marketer of "As Seen on TV" products. It said the settlement with the state Division of Consumer Affairs will lead to an improved shopping experience for customers. It said there was no admission of liability but it has made changes to its websites and customer service processes to assure customers "are better informed throughout the ordering process."
"We are a company predicated on consumer satisfaction and if we can improve the experience of our customers, we want to do that expeditiously," said Telebrands CEO AJ Khubani, who designed the red "As Seen on TV" logo shaped like an old cathode ray tube television screen.
Telebrands will have to retain at its own expense a consumer affairs liaison for up to two years. The liaison will be subject to state approval and will monitor the firm's compliance with the settlement terms and applicable laws. The liaison also will help resolve consumer complaints and provide quarterly reports to the state.
The settlement resolves a civil lawsuit the state filed last August. The lawsuit alleged that the company scammed customers by aggressively pushing more expensive products, shipping and billing for products not ordered and using misleading advertising.
It also alleged that the company violated the terms of a 2001 agreement with the state that required it to comply with the Consumer Fraud Act.
Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said the deal puts Telebrands customers back in control of the ordering and payment process.
"No longer will consumers find themselves subjected to an onslaught of solicitations for products that they have no interest in, with no way to end the merciless upselling," he said.