On April 17, 1996 the Washington State Attorney General's Office filed a Consumer Protection lawsuit against two Washington optometrists, Leonard and David Vainio and American Eyecare of Bellevue, Inc.
American Eyecare is a Montana company. It is an unregistered and presumed fictitious Washington Corporation which does business as American Eyecare (Northgate, Alderwood, Bellevue-Koll Center, Lakewood Mall in Tacoma, Federal Way), Quick Sight/Site of Bellevue, Bellevue Eyeworks, Issaquah Optical, Eyecare USA (Lakewood Mall) and Look Optical (University District). Total ten Washington locations.
150 consumers have complained to the Attorney General's Office about this company. (List of consumers willing to speak with press attached)
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants engaged in various unfair and deceptive practices in the offer and sale of optometric goods and services including false advertising, misrepresenta tions, unfair and deceptive billing practices and failure to provide prescriptions.
- "Buy 1, Get 1 Free Glasses or Contact Lenses"
- "Two Pair of Eyeglasses $49.99, Includes Visual Exam"
.... These special offers suggest they carry a large selection of eyewear from which consumers can choose. When customers walk into the stores, frames on special are not identified.
Customers asking about the special offer are shown eyewear that is low quality, undesirable frames and are encouraged to buy more expensive items (bait and switch)
- False advertisements...."Optometrists Available 7 Days a Week and Evenings".... in fact, optometrist is not on site or available to walk-in customers at all retail locations because of insufficient staff
- Unfair billing practices included unfairly increasing their advertised fees for eye exams when consumers do not purchase eyewear; billing for unordered merchandise; billing for unusable, ill-fitting or defective products and refusing to correct the problems.
- Failure to refund deposits to consumers after their insurance companies had paid accounts in full.
Dr. Leonard Vainio is also the subject of a disciplinary proceeding filed in July 1995 by the Washington State Board of Health for unprofessional conduct. A hearing on the Department of Health charges has been set for October 1996.
Lawsuit asks for restitution for consumers, injunctions prohibiting defendants from future violations of Consumer Protection Act, civil penalties, fees and costs.
Consumers with questions or complaints should call the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-551-4636.
Contact: Regina Cullen, Assistant Attorney General
Janice Marich, Public Affairs