The Federal Trade Commission wasn't buying claims from an electronics buyback company when seeking an order halting the operations of Laptop & Desktop Repair in Georgia federal court.
Together with the Georgia Attorney General, the agency alleged that the company and its owner tricked consumers by making high-dollar offers to purchase their used electronics—smartphones and tablets, for example—and then actually paid consumers far less after they sent in their devices.
"This is a classic case of bait-and-switch updated for the 21st century," Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement about the case. "The defendants in this case lure consumers with false promises of generous payments, then hold consumers hostage once they have mailed their devices to the company."
Once consumers shared information about the product they wished to trade in, the defendants would represent they would pay an exact amount, the FTC said. But after the company received the electronics, it would invariably drop the price to just three to ten percent of the original quote.
Consumers who requested their products back or argued about the lower price were met with hurdles, the agency alleged. Long hold times and disconnected calls were common, and the defendants often informed consumers that it was too late to return their devices because they had already been processed.
The court entered an order stopping the defendants' practices and freezing their assets while the litigation proceeds.
To read the complaint and the temporary restraining order in FTC v. Laptop & Desktop Repair, click here.
Why it matters: The FTC's complaint—alleging violations of both Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and Georgia's Fair Business Practices Act—noted that since 2011, consumers lodged more than 4,000 complaints against the defendants with the FTC, state authorities, and the Better Business Bureau.