The state attorney general’s office has filed suit against an Allentown home improvement company, accusing it of misleading, high-pressure sales practices.
Curtis Total Service, Inc., took advantage of customers — many of whom were elderly and lived alone — by using deceptive tactics to trick them into paying for unnecessary work, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a news release.
The suit names the company and two employees, manager Richard Price and field supervisor Matthew Price.
“Curtis Total Service flat out lied to Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said. “They misinformed consumers about their right to cancel contracts and in some instances, refused cancellation outright. They used bad information, partial information, and dirty tricks to pad their bills at the expense of older Pennsylvanians.”
The suit charges that the company suggested customers buy products that were unnecessary and in some cases inappropriate for the customer’s home. Some customers were asked to sign incomplete invoices that were later filled out or altered by a Curtis employee, the suit says, while customers who tried to cancel contracts were often refused, and in some cases threatened with lawsuits.
The Prices allegedly used high-pressure and scare tactics to convince customers their health and safety were at risk if they didn’t make recommended purchases and insisted on starting work immediately to discourage second opinions.
Customers were given the impression that they were taking out a loan for home improvement services in a certain amount, only to later learn they had signed up for a credit card and were responsible for purchases in excess of the amount verbally agreed to, the suit charges.
Shapiro’s news release cited the case of Kathy Reither of Northampton County, who called Curtis Total Service two days before Christmas when her furnace was having trouble.
“Curtis Total Service made all these claims,” Reither said. “All these things that were wrong with my furnace, that if he even tried to clean my furnace it was going to crumble. All lies.”
Consumers who believe they or family members may have been victims of deceptive practices by Curtis Total Service can file a complaint online with the Bureau of Consumer Protection, email [email protected] or call 800-441-2555.
Consumers are also urged to ask elderly family members if they had a negative experience with Curtis Total Service and report any such complaints to the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Contractors who have information regarding the alleged business practices of this company should also contact the bureau, Shapiro said.
The suit was filed in Lehigh County Court by deputy attorneys general Melissa Kaplan and Shawn Bachman.