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Firm that failed to provide gowns settles

July 15, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

The Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Attorney General reached a settlement with a Hagerstown business that failed to produce designer wedding gowns it sold to customers on the Internet, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran announced Friday in a written release.

Melody and James Row of Hagerstown agreed "not to conduct any further business selling consumer goods until and unless they post a surety bond with the division and comply with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act," according to a written release from Kevin Enright, spokesman for Curran.

The Rows also must pay back customers who have not already received restitution for gowns that were not delivered, according to the release.

The Rows operated a wedding gown business on the Internet under a variety of names, including Bridal Elegance, Heavenly Accents, Elegant Creations and The Bridal Suite, according to the release.

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Enright said about 20 people, 12 of whom still are owed restitution, from all over the country and the United Kingdom, complained that they were swindled in 2005.

Eight customers received restitution from their credit card companies, Enright said. Restitution amounts for others who have claimed they lost money will be determined on an individual basis, he said.

Most of the customers sent for gowns from the company after they put an advertisement on the Internet searching for a particular gown and subsequently were contacted by the Rows, Enright said.

In a statement issued as part of the written release, Curran said, "It is unfortunate that these consumers did not receive the wedding gowns they were promised as they prepared for such an important event in their lives. Businesses cannot advertise and offer to sell specialty goods such as designer wedding gowns if they do not have the ability to provide these goods."

Enright included a few tips for consumers to consider when buying items on the Internet:

· Verify that the business from which items are bought is established.

· Sign a written agreement with a detailed description of the goods.

· Know the return policy.

· Pay by credit card because it is easier to recover money if the seller doesn't own up to their promises, even if you use third-party payment services.

· Document e-mails, transactions and the listing for the item.

· Dispute charges with a credit card company within the required time period.

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