~ Company to modify business practices, eliminate high pressure sales
TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – A national company marketing electrically adjustable beds must alter the sales practices used to conduct its business in Florida under a settlement announced today by Attorney General Bill McCollum. Craftmatic Organization, Inc., a multi-million dollar business with operations and distributors throughout the United States, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, must also pay $100,000 in consumer restitution to Floridians who were pressured into buying beds they did not want or who were otherwise deceived by the company’s sales tactics.
“Salespeople should never be permitted to harass elderly Floridians, especially when consumers are made to feel as though the only way to evict the salespersons from their homes would be to purchase these beds,” said Attorney General McCollum. “This settlement will not only provide for much-needed business reform, but will also provide financial support to a program that exists to protect seniors from these types of characteristically unfair practices.”
The Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division has been investigating the company since 2004, examining allegations that the company’s salespeople frequently employ high pressure sales tactics to compel senior citizens to purchase the costly adjustable beds. Craftmatic has also repeatedly claimed that the beds will resolve consumers’ medical problems, although these claims have not been fully substantiated by authorities.
Throughout the course of the investigation, the Attorney General’s Office received more than 60 complaints, many from elderly Floridians who felt they had been pressured into buying beds they did not want and could not afford. Attorneys with the Economic Crimes Division were able to facilitate consumer restitution or other remedies, often providing consumers with a full refund and removal of the unnecessary equipment. One consumer, an elderly Naples woman, contacted the Attorney General’s Office through a member of the media, claiming that she had not only been persuaded to buy the expensive bed, but that the salespeople took her old bed out of her house to make room for the newer model. After relaying the woman’s complaint to the company, the Attorney General’s Office was able to secure a refund and the company provided for the purchase of a new bed.
Under today’s agreement, the company will make substantial reforms of business practices used in Florida. It will no longer be permitted to represent to consumers that the Craftmatic beds provide any specific therapeutic benefit. The salespeople must refrain from engaging in high pressure sales tactics and must apply limitations to their prolonged sales pitches and demonstrations conducted in consumers’ bedrooms. The company must also be responsible for removing any Craftmatic beds from the home of any previous complainants who wish to have the beds removed from their homes and provide for the acquisition of a new bed if the consumer’s previous bed was removed to make way for the Craftmatic bed.
In addition to the consumer restitution and the changes to the company’s marketing practices, Craftmatic will pay $20,000 to the Seniors vs. Crime Program. This non-profit organization helps prevent the victimization of elderly Floridians through educational efforts and a creative peer-to-peer approach. Senior citizen volunteers known as Senior Sleuths assist the Attorney General and law enforcement by acting as their communities’ eyes and ears to report new scams or unethical sales tactics and by participating in undercover investigations of unfair or illegal business practices. More than 2,800 Senior Sleuths staff locations throughout Florida where complainants may come in and discuss their problem with the sleuths. More information is available online at: