Pennsylvania attorney general Jerry Pappert on Aug. 24 settled a lawsuit on behalf of the state’s Bureau of Consumer Protection against Taylor Gifts. In filing a court-approved consent petition, the state demands reforms in the way the Paoli, PA-based novelties cataloger receives and fulfills catalog and online orders.
Pappert had filed the seven-count suit in February, accusing Taylor Gifts of failing to deliver its products consumers ordered, delivering incorrect items to consumers, and shipping orders well beyond the advertised delivery time or period allowed by law. The FTC’s Mail Order Rule requires fulfillment within 30 days unless the company notifies customers up front of possible backorders.
The settlement calls for Taylor, which also owns the Kitchen & Much More and Get Organized catalogs, to pay $20,000 in civil penalties and $5,000 for the costs of investigation. Taylor will also have to reimburse any customer who files a “valid” complaint with Pappert’s office, plus, the company must staff a toll-free national hotline to assist consumers in obtaining reimbursements.
In addition, Taylor Gifts must refrain from charging customers’ credit cards until an order is processed and fulfilled, and it has to stop telling customers that their credit cards will not be charged until products are shipped. The marketer also has to switch its 45-day return policy to a satisfaction guarantee policy regardless of when the product is returned, and it must provide customers with prompt refunds if their credit cards have been charged and they haven’t received products they ordered.
As part of the settlement, Taylor has agreed to register Kitchen & Much More and Get Organized with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The state’s Fictitious Names Act requires companies to register all corporate names; although it has mailed the Get Organized catalog for more than 20 years, Taylor had never previously registered the name. Taylor also never registered Kitchen & Much More, which it stopped mailing this past January after only a year, though it remains active on the Web.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office first filed suit against Taylor in February in response to more than 80 consumer complaints against the cataloger. “Over several months, we saw a spike in complaints, which is how we do this,” says deputy press secretary Barbara Petito. “Getting a few complaints here or there isn’t unusual. But when we got dozens over a short period of time, that was a red flag of a bigger problem.”
Larry Shtasel, Taylor’s attorney from the Philadelphia-based law firm Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley, did not return calls for comment by press time.