CLEVELAND - A Cleveland man is in trouble with the Ohio attorney general for allegedly promising auto parts he never delivered.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Wednesday a lawsuit against Phillip J. Pierce, who ran a website called Automeds.com. The lawsuit accuses Pierce of taking money for auto parts he never delivered.
"Dozens of consumers nationwide have reported problems with this business," DeWine said. "We are taking action to seek justice for the consumers who have been harmed and to prevent others from being harmed in the future."
According to the lawsuit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Pierce advertised motor vehicle parts to consumers nationwide using the website Automeds.com, which is not incorporated in Ohio. He accepted payment from consumers but failed to deliver the parts they ordered and failed to return their money. The attorney general's office is aware of 36 complaints filed against the business, including complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.
The lawsuit charges Pierce with failure to deliver, a violation of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act. Through the lawsuit, Attorney General DeWine seeks consumer restitution, a permanent injunction and civil penalties.
DeWine provides the following tips for consumers who shop online:
- Be careful about the information you post online and carefully screen individuals who contact you in return. Determine who you are dealing with before sending personal or financial information.
- Be wary of low prices and estimates. A low cost doesn't necessarily indicate the best deal. It may be worthwhile to pay a higher price to a reliable seller.
- Check out a business's or website's reputation by reviewing complaints filed with the Ohio Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Also conduct a basic Internet search and review the seller's feedback ratings.
- Consider using a credit card to pay for online purchases. The Fair Credit Billing Act gives consumers the right to dispute unauthorized credit card charges.
- Buy local. For major purchases, consider dealing with a local seller or a seller you can meet in person at a safe, public location.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly in any transaction should contact the Ohio Attorney General's Office at http://www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.