AG seeks to pe­nal­ize RV-re­pair com­pany

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - RELIGION - JOHN LYNCH

Arkansas At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge is call­ing on Pu­laski County Cir­cuit Judge Wen­dell Grif­fen to fine a Con­way County busi­ness owner more than $1.5 mil­lion, plus re­quire pay­ment of about $81,000 in resti­tu­tion to 155 cus­tomers whom she says were cheated.

Rut­ledge sued Jerry Wayne Collins, 49, of Plumerville and his com­pany, NuCold Re­frig­er­a­tion Inc., in De­cem­ber 2016 un­der the Arkansas De­cep­tive Trade Prac­tice Act.

NuCold, at 220 Sardis Road in Mor­ril­ton, sold, re­man­u­fac­tured and re­paired am­mo­nia cool­ing units for re­frig­er­a­tors in recre­ational ve­hi­cles.

Cus­tomers were re­quired to pay in ad­vance be­fore any work was done or any unit was shipped. The units cost be­tween $400 and $1,000. The com­pany has also been known as RV Fridge House and RV Ice­box.

The ag­grieved cus­tomers in the law­suit, who were from 40 states and Canada, ei­ther didn’t get the equip­ment they paid for or were sold de­fec­tive prod­ucts with war­ranties that NuCold re­fused to honor, the law­suit states.

The com­pany also made it dif­fi­cult for cus­tomers to get their money back when it did pay out re­funds, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

About two dozen of the 155 cus­tomers listed in the law­suit, about 15 per­cent, got re­funds.

“In nearly all cases re­ported to the State, NuCold re­peat­edly evaded at­tempts by con­sumers to re­quest a re­fund or ob­tain the paid­for good or ser­vice. NuCold failed to re­spond to com­mu­ni­ca­tions from con­sumers, in­clud­ing phone calls, text mes­sages, emails, and let­ters,” the suit states.

“Some con­sumers who con­tacted the State were able to ob­tain re­funds, but only af­ter re­peated and con­sis­tent at­tempts by the State to re­solve the con­sumer com­plaints. In many cases, even the State’s ef­forts were not enough to com­pel NuCold to pro­vide re­funds to con­sumers.”

NuCold has also en­gaged in false ad­ver­tis­ing, mis­led con­sumers about the qual­ity of its prod­ucts and ser­vices and evaded cus­tomers who tried to get their money back — all vi­o­la­tions of the de­cep­tive-trade law, the suit states.

Nei­ther Collins nor NuCold re­sponded to the law­suit, and the judge granted a de­fault judg­ment in Jan­uary. In plead­ings filed this week by As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Johnathan Carter, Rut­ledge asks the judge to im­pose the max­i­mum fine al­lowed by law, $10,000 per vi­o­la­tion, and re­quire Collins and NuCold to pay $81,454 in resti­tu­tion.

Cus­tomers are due re­funds rang­ing from $42 to $4,940, ac­cord­ing to the pe­ti­tion.

The state lawyers also want the judge to bar Collins from ever work­ing in the RV re­pair busi­ness again, es­pe­cially selling or re­pair­ing the re­frig­er­a­tion units.

Collins and NuCold should also be barred — along with their em­ploy­ees — from con­duct­ing any busi­ness un­til the fines and re­funds are paid, the plead­ings state.

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