Florida Law – Attorney General Reports North Carolina Company Agrees To Change Florida Practices Over Mail Solicitations

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that a North Carolina company has agreed to change its business practices in the State of Florida, protecting consumers from potentially misleading mail solicitations. Eli Research, Inc., which does business under the name The Coding Institute, LLC, operates a call center located in Naples and publishes industry periodicals, newsletters and audio tapes. The agreement calls for the company to modify its advertising practices so consumers will no longer be misled to believe they have outstanding financial obligations to the company.

Investigators with the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division discovered that the company heavily markets through direct mail and telephone solicitations to businesses and professional organizations. Many of the consumers who complained to the Attorney General were doctors or other professionals who said that their office had received a direct mail advertisement from Eli Research that looked like an invoice although the office had not ordered anything from the company. Due to the nature of the advertisements, office employees paid or were intending to pay what they believed was an overdue bill. In some instances, complaining consumers were informed by Eli Research that someone working in the consumer’s office had authorized the subscription through a telemarketing offer but that authorization could not be confirmed by Eli in many cases.

Complaints also included allegations that the company did not address refunds in a timely manner and, even after issuing refunds, would continue sending solicitations. In addition to using the company name The Coding Institute, LLC, Eli Research has also been known to operate under the names New Hill Services or National Litigation Bureau.

Under the agreement signed with the Attorney General’s Office, Eli Research must adhere to the following terms for conducting business in the State of Florida:

– All future solicitations must clearly and conspicuously disclose the
terms of the offer;
– All offers of trial products must clearly and conspicuously disclose
any obligations of acceptance;
– All billing efforts must be directed to the person who authorized the
– No billing effort can be initiated unless and until the customer
expressly and affirmatively consents to the purchase;
– Billing statements can only indicate intent to take legal action if
legal action is imminent;
– Any simulated invoice solicitation must contain a 30-point warning
that it is a solicitation per Florida Statute guidelines;
– The company must honor requests to cancel subscriptions as soon as
reasonably possible;
– When a subscription is cancelled, the company must not initiate any
additional billing efforts;
– The company must contact all customers who did not have a business
relationship with the company prior to receiving a solicitation and provide them with a refund if requested; and
– The company must work to resolve outstanding consumer complaints.

Consumers who believe they may have been victimized by potentially deceptive or unfair practices by the company should contact the Attorney General’s Office. Complaints can be filed by calling 1-866-966-7226 or by visiting the Attorney General’s website at http://www.myfloridalegal.com.

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