(STL.News) Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver, Washington company U.S. Air Ducts, its owners and their associated companies for violating Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) by using deceptive marketing practices to make over 11 million unwanted robocalls to Oregon phone numbers and sending 20 million print advertisements promising a “whole house” or “seasonal” cleaning at a special price. Once in the home, commission-based sales people would use high pressure sales tactics to get consumers to spend hundreds of dollars, or more, for a complete cleaning, a fake VIP membership and services the company was not able to perform.
“These calls and mailers were incredibly deceptive—not to mention obnoxious,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “No business that operates in Oregon should be able to get away with making that many robocalls, or using these types of high-pressure tactics to prey on consumers.”
The lawsuit, which was filed today in Multnomah County, asks the court to permanently enjoin the company, and its owners, from engaging in these unlawful trade practices. The lawsuit also asks for restitution for consumers who overpaid for the services, and requests the defendants to pay the state a civil fine. If you think you have been contacted by this company and overpaid for a service, please contact the Oregon Department of Justice online at www.OregonConsumer.gov.
The complaint alleges that from 2014 through 2019, the companies would advertise a “seasonal special” for $39, $45 or $49 dollars. The price varied by region, and the advertisements falsely said that the “regular price” for the same service was $169 dollars. From May 2016-September 2019, the defendants advertised that the “regular price” for the same service was $225. However, the companies have never sold the advertised service for $169 or $225 dollars. Once in the home, the technician would tell the consumer that not all vents were included as advertised, and to adequately clean the HVAC system, the consumer must purchase expensive, additional services.
The Oregon Department of Justice received 18 complaints from Oregonians who received calls or mailers from the company. Many of the pre-recorded phone calls failed to identify the caller by name, which is required by Oregon law, and even if a consumer followed the pre-recorded message and pressed “2” to be removed from the list, the consumer was not removed from the list.
In March, Attorney General Rosenblum joined 54 Attorneys General to support federal legislation known as the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED), which would help combat robocalls by implementing industry-wide protocols.