Attorney General Tom Corbett is suing a Philadelphia pet supply store operator for making false claims about charitable contributions and failing to provide refunds to consumers who returned items.
Corbett said Joseph P. White, the owner of Furlong’s Pet Supply, an Internet-based business, claimed a percentage of every sale would be donated to an animal welfare charity when no such charity existed.
White also operated Tapping Paw, a pet sitting and dog walking service, though the name is not properly registered in Pennsylvania. The Attorney General's office said consumers told them that White also once operated a storefront in Manayunk.
According to the lawsuit, White’s pet supply website advertised that ten percent of the proceeds from every sale would be donated to a charity called the Adopted Dog Training Association. That “charity” allegedly provided obedience training for people who adopted dogs from Philadelphia area animal shelters.
“In reality, this dog training ‘charity’ was little more than a sham, created by Mr. White, to lure sympathetic consumers into making purchases from his online business,” Corbett said. “The organization was never registered as a charity in Pennsylvania and no money was ever donated to it.”
Corbett said White is also accused of not honoring his return policy and not providing refunds to consumers who returned items within the specified 21-day return period.
The lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers who paid for products they did not receive along with refunds for items that consumers had properly returned. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks penalties of up to $3,000 for each violation of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law.
Corbett urged consumers with problems involving White or his businesses – Furlong’s Pet Supply, Tapping Paw or the Adopted Dog Training Association – to file formal complaints by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or by completing an online complaint form at www.attorneygeneral.gov.
(Highlight the “Complaints” button at the top left corner of the website and select “Consumer Complaints” from the menu that appears).
Corbett encouraged consumers to research online sellers, especially if they have never dealt with a particular business before – and ensure they understand all aspects of the transaction, including delivery times; shipping fees; return policies and guidelines for refunds.
Corbett also urged consumers to investigate charitable programs before agreeing to make a contribution. All charities operating in Pennsylvania are required to register with the PA Department of State. Information is available on the Department of State website (www.dos.state.pa.us) indicating how donations are used, including the amount spent on charitable activities as opposed to administrative and fund-raising expenses.
Pennsylvania residents with questions or concerns related to online businesses, charitable contributions or other consumer protection issues to contact the attorney general's by phone or through its Web site.
To read the lawsuit click here.