A.G. Schneiderman Settles With Rochester-area Furniture Store Over Deceptive Advertising Practices
Viking International Furniture Used Misleading "Going Out Of Business" Sale To Lure Consumers Under False Pretenses
After Advertising “Five Day Only” Sale For Nearly Eight Weeks, Store Ordered To Pay $30,000 In Penalties
ROCHESTER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement with a Victor-based furniture company for engaging in deceptive and misleading advertising -- deceiving consumers into falsely thinking they were holding a "going out of business" sale -- in violation of New York State law. As a result of Attorney General Schneiderman's investigation, Viking International Furniture Corporation (“Viking”) has agreed to stop the deceptive practices, pay $30,000 in civil penalties to the State, and forfeit its $475 application fee to the Town of Victor, New York.
“This case sends a clear message that our office will hold businesses accountable when they use false or misleading advertising practices to deceive consumers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New Yorkers should be able to trust the claims made by businesses and know that they will be treated fairly in the marketplace.”
In January 2014, the Town of Victor advised the Office of the Attorney General that Viking obtained a license from the Town to conduct a 30-day “going out of business” sale pursuant to New York State’s General Business Law. Two weeks after the start of the sale, the Town advised Viking that its sale did not comply with New York law, which requires that the company note the expiration date of the sale in its ads and post a copy of the remaining inventory in the store. The law also prohibits the company from restocking with new merchandise because “going out of business” represents that the company is trying to liquidate its remaining merchandise and is offering bargain prices.
In February 2014, Viking applied to the Town of Victor for a one-time renewal of its license for an additional 30 days. In its application for the renewal, Viking promised that it would not add new merchandise to its store, but it broke that promise along with a New York law that prohibits companies from adding new merchandise when going out of business.
In March 2014, after 60 days of its sale and despite the fact that its license had expired, Viking ran a new “going out of business” sale ad and planned to continue operating. At that point, the Attorney General directed Viking to halt its “going out of business” sale.
The Attorney General's investigation found that Viking engaged in deceptive business practices as well as false advertising by promoting a "going out of business" sale beyond the 60 days permitted by New York State law. Viking advertised its sale as lasting “five days only,” but the sale ran for nearly eight weeks. Viking also violated New York law when it ordered additional inventory after the sale began.
The Attorney General wishes to thank the Town of Victor Town Clerk, Debra Denz for her assistance in this investigation.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Bruce in the Rochester Regional Office, which is led by Debra Martin, Assistant Attorney General In Charge. The Rochester Regional Office is a part of the Division of Regional Offices that is led by Martin J. Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.