OLYMPIA – The Washington Attorney General’s Office wrapped up its case with a company accused of hawking pricey service contracts through deceptive junk mail, illegal robocalls and misleading TV ads. The state’s settlement bans Credexx and its former owner, David J. Tabb, from doing business in Washington again.
“Credexx was one of a several companies that tricked consumers nationwide into buying expensive auto service contracts by claiming to extend manufacturer-provided warranties,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said.
Assistant Attorney General Mary Lobdell, with the Washington Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, headed up a multistate investigation into marketers of “extended warranties.” That led to several states filing civil lawsuits in April 2010 against California-based Credexx and Missouri-based U.S. Fidelis. The suits accused the companies of lying to consumers and leading them to believe their service contracts were provided by manufacturers or dealers. Both companies are now out of business.
Submitted today to Thurston County Superior Court, Washington’s settlement with Credexx and Tabb imposes restrictions that are similar to those that the Ohio, North Carolina and Idaho attorneys general reached with the defendants as well as a November 2010 multistate agreement with U.S. Fidelis’ founders.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that Credexx, doing business as Auto One Warranty Specialists, sold at least 1,340 vehicle service contracts and protection products to Washington consumers. Those consumers didn’t receive the “bumper to bumper” coverage they were promised.
A Kirkland woman who said she paid $1,833 for coverage for a 2007 Prius discovered that the contract didn’t cover the cost of replacing the battery pack. A Pasco man was sold a plan that would cover his truck, but discovered in the fine print that his vehicle was exempted because of its trailer hitch and other towing modifications. And a Sequim man with transmission problems said the company failed to disclose significant limits on the cost of repairs.
Credexx also was accused of calling consumers on the national Do Not Call registry, making “robocalls,” bypassing caller ID, refusing to allow consumers an opportunity to review contracts, denying valid refund requests, improperly obtaining consumers’ personal information and violating state licensing and registration laws.
Tabb will pay $5,000 to reimburse the state for costs stemming from the investigation and litigation. A $70,000 civil penalty is suspended provided he complies with the settlement. Lobdell said the payment is small because Credexx is defunct. Tabb is broke and he agreed to never do business in Washington again.
Consumers who purchased service contracts through Credexx and canceled the contract should check their paperwork to find out who is obligated to make repairs and contact that business for a refund.
- Under federal law, a “factory warranty” or “extended warranty” can only be offered and sold by an automobile manufacturer. Other plans are called service contracts.
- Under Washington law, the company that pays for vehicle repairs must be registered with the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Consumers can check whether a company is registered online and find additional information at www.insurance.wa.gov/consumertoolkit/Start.aspx. The marketing company that sold the contract is not necessarily the same business obligated to pay for repairs.
- You have the right to request a refund any time during the life of your contract. A contract provider must honor the request.
- If you cancel within 10 days of purchase and make no claims, you must receive a full refund.
- If you cancel after 10 days but before 30 days, you must receive a full refund minus a $25 cancellation fee.
- After 30 days, you’re entitled to a pro-rated refund. The amount refunded will depend on how long it took you to cancel the contract or mileage on the vehicle.
- Beware of any contract that comes with an additive or liquid that you must put in your engine. These are not service contracts, but a product warranty that covers only certain lubricated parts of your engine or transmission. You won’t have the same legal protections as a service contract. In fact, you have no right to a refund with most product-based contracts if you put the product in your engine or request a refund more than 30 days after purchase.
- If a registered service contract provider refuses to honor your refund request, file a complaint with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner online at http://www.insurance.wa.gov/consumers/Complaints.shtml. If the company required to cover the repairs isn’t registered, file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office at http://atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx.
- Consumers with insurance questions, complaints or problems can call the Office of the Insurance Commissioner at 1-800-562-6900. The Attorney General's Office Consumer Resource Center can be reached at 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.
Credexx Consent Decree
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