|For Immediate Release
May 10, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA OBTAINS $200,000 SETTLEMENT FROM AUDIO RETAILER FOR CHARGING CUSTOMERS FOR PRODUCTS THAT WERE NEVER SHIPPED AND FAILING TO ISSUE REFUNDS
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) obtained a $200,000 settlement today against an Orange County-based audio retailer for bilking online customers by charging customer credit cards for products that were never shipped and failing to provide refunds for un-received products. The judgment was signed today, May 10, 2011, by the Honorable Francisco Firmat.
The defendants operated primarily out of Irvine and Santa Ana under the business names Dealer Cost Audio, Gold Star Audio, Gold Star Audio Sound, Inc., National Audio Center, Inc., Indo Audio, and owner Ravi Ghataode, aka Robert Ghataode, aka Robert Jones. The defendants have admitted no fault or liability in this case.
For at least the past three years, the defendants advertised low-priced audio equipment for sale on the Internet to customers throughout the country. Some of the products were properly shipped to customers, but hundreds of other customers were cheated by the defendants. In those cases, when a customer purchased a product, the defendants immediately billed the consumers’ credit cards without sending the product or issuing refunds upon request for un-received products. The defendants responded to consumers by falsely stating when the product would arrive, misrepresenting that products were backordered or delayed, providing false refund confirmation numbers, and falsely claiming that money had been refunded to the victims’ credit cards.
The OCDA began investigating this case after receiving a consumer complaint in 2010 and learned that over 1,200 complaints had been filed with the Better Business Bureau.
As terms of the settlement, the defendants are ordered to pay $200,000, of which $70,000 will be in civil penalties and $130,000 will be in restitution to prior victims as determined by the OCDA who paid for and never received products or refunds. The defendants are permanently enjoined from violating any California Unfair Business Practice Laws, accepting payment from any customer without delivery of the product or refund within 30 days of order placement, falsely stating when goods will arrive, making any false or misleading statements, or advertising products that are not in stock without disclosure.
The OCDA retains the right to perform oversight to ensure the defendants are in compliance with the injunctive terms.
Consumers who believe they are due a refund from the defendant for goods never received may contact OCDA Investigator Steve Howe at (714) 347-8886. All complaints must be received no later than Aug. 7, 2011.