October 15, 2010
Montgomery Co. locksmith business accused of using deceptive advertising about ?local? services
HARRISBURG ? Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced the filing of a consumer protection lawsuit against the owners of a Montgomery County locksmith and home improvement business accused of using fictitious business names, hundreds of telephone numbers and numerous different advertisements to mislead consumers into believing they were dealing with ?local? businesses.
Corbett said the lawsuit was filed by the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection against Always In Service, Inc., of Old York Road, Abington (Montgomery County), along with company president Guy Halperin, of Philadelphia; company treasurer Yuvall Attoun, of Newtown; and Refael Mohar, of Philadelphia, who serves as secretary for the business. The company offered locksmith services, along with the installation of security systems, windows, doors and garage doors in Philadelphia, along with Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Northampton counties.
?Operating under at least 16 different fictitious business names, using over 300 different telephone numbers, three websites and a long list of telephone directory advertisements, the defendants tricked consumers into believing they were dealing with local businesses in their communities,? Corbett said. ?In reality, calls to hundreds of different advertised phone numbers were all routed to a single office in Montgomery County, which dispatched an assortment of subcontractors accused of doing shoddy work, charging fees higher than original estimates or failing to provide services.?
Corbett said the lawsuit also alleges that the defendants made numerous false or deceptive claims in their telephone directory advertisements and on their Internet websites, such as being accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the use of ?certified master locksmiths,? that the business was a ?leading service company in many fields? and that the business was ?family owned and operated.?
?In reality, we do not believe any of their technicians are qualified as ?certified master locksmiths,? this company is not and has never been accredited by the BBB, there is no evidence to support any claim that they have ever been a ?leading service company? in any profession and it is not a family owned and operated business,? Corbett said.
Corbett said that all of these activities ? including the bogus business names, multiple phone numbers and exaggerated claims ? were allegedly intended to confuse or mislead consumers, leading potential customers to believe that they were dealing with a local business that was highly regarded and well qualified to handle their projects.
Corbett noted that the defendants also performed home improvement services, such as installation of doors, windows and garage doors, without registering with the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection and failed to properly notify consumers about their three-day right to cancel a home improvement contract.
The lawsuit seeks full restitution for all consumers who have been harmed, along with civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law (up to $3,000 for each violation involving a victim age 60 or older).
Corbett said the lawsuit also asks the court to permanently prohibit the defendants from doing business in Pennsylvania as locksmiths or home improvement contractors.
Consumers can file complaints by calling the Attorney General?s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555, or by submitting an online complaint using the Attorney General?s website.
The lawsuit was filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Deputy Attorney General Jacqueline M. D?Angelo of the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
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