Blue Hippo Customers in Texas to Get Restitution
Texas just the latest state to intervene on behalf of its consumers
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Throughout the decade of the 2000s, BlueHippo marketed over-priced computers and TV sets to consumers with poor credit using a lay-away plan. Often times the consumers never even received the merchandise.
After numerous actions by consumer agencies, the company is in bankruptcy but the repercussions are still being felt. The state of Texas has just secured a court order requiring the sole shareholder in the now-defunct firm to pay $175,000 in restitution for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Texans who were defrauded by BlueHippo are eligible for reimbursement from the restitution fund established by the State. Presumably, Dianne, of Waller, Tex., will be one of them.
“Bought two computers on two occasions,” Dianne wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post in January. “Received one but not the other. Paid in full both times. $1995.48 was the cost of second computer purchased in 2005. I requested my money to be given back and they sent me to a web page.”
Consumers who purchased computers through BlueHippo typically were charged more than $2,000 for an older model PC that could have been purchased at a discount retailer for less than $500. They were required to make weekly payments until they had covered the cost of the computer. Many times, such as in Dianne's case, they never got the computer.
Violated state law
“The BlueHippo firms violated state law when it took Texans’ money and refused to deliver the computers or equipment customers purchased,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. “The state’s investigation also showed that BlueHippo unlawfully refused to honor refund requests and withdrew payments from customers’ bank accounts without their permission. Today’s court order requires the defendants to pay $175,000 in restitution so that Texans who were defrauded by BlueHippo can seek reimbursement for financial losses they suffered because of the defendants’ unlawful conduct.”
In addition to ordering restitution, the court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting owner Joseph Rensin or his businesses from attempting to collect approximately $2.3 million in debts that Texans incurred because of their dealings with BlueHippo. The court also barred Rensin and his businesses from reporting Texas customers’ nonpayment of the debt to any of the nation’s credit reporting agencies.
Texas consumers who feel they were defrauded by BlueHippo have 90 days to file a claim using this form.
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- Critics say layaway programs amount to "hideaways for sky-high interest rates"
- Layaway programs have benefits, but pitfalls too
- Whole Foods to pay $800,000 in overpricing case
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