A Bay City, Michigan resort business owned by a private company, Outdoor Adventures, has recently been served with a “Notice of Intended Action” by Attorney General Dana Nessel. According to this announcement, “this action is being taken to protect Michigan consumers who have become victims of deceptive and unfair business practices from participating in or paying for the services of an internet business that advertises itself as offering a wide range of products and services. Outdoor finders
Specifically, this action targets the way in which the business attempts to entice new customers through advertising claims that are simply not true. This effort includes: Outdoor Activities
o According to the Attorney General, Outdoor Adventures’ internet site offers an online golf club membership at the “Bay Valley Course.” However, the site further states that it will be the only website on the Internet that will offer this type of service. Furthermore, this club, contrary to Outdoor Adventures’ claims, does not exist.
o According to this action, this website also offers a membership to a “Maine fishing and boating club” in its advertising that offers a variety of discounts and special offers to its customers based on their state and/or customer’s state. When contacted by this Attorney General, Outdoor Adventures failed to provide documentation supporting these claims, citing a lack of available records.
o The “Directions to the Bay Valley Course” provided by Outdoor Adventures’ web site lists a phone number for a toll-free phone number. The number is a toll-free number assigned by the state of Maine. However, it was not clear from the notice issued by Attorney General Nessel whether this number is an actual toll-free number or merely a virtual number that customers can use to make contact with this business.
o According to this action, when contacting the “Directions to the Bay Valley Course” from the web site, customers are directed to a toll-free number, where they are asked for personal information such as their name and email address. This information is used to send unsolicited emails to potential customers and to promote the business’s website. In some instances, the email contains false and unsubstantiated claims such as a discount on a golf membership at the “Bay Valley Course.” In other instances, the email includes unsubstantiated, but vague, claims such as discounts on equipment, trips, and other services that may be offered by this business.
o In an email sent to this Attorney General, Outdoor Adventures did not respond to a letter sent by this Attorney General stating that the company had failed to respond to a request for documentation of the company’s sales of a company called “The Golf Channel.” The email also included an email address, however, and stated that the company would be “working on your response.” This correspondence was sent after the Attorney General’s “Notice of Intention Action.”
o Attorney General Nessel also sent this company an email asking for additional information regarding the use of this web site for advertising purposes and to answer any questions about its web site or the contents of its web site. This request is a standard practice in all cases where an investigation of this nature is conducted. In this case, Outdoor Adventures’ response did not come and, instead, the business indicated that it would not be able to assist the Attorney General with this matter, citing a lack of available documents.
If you have been served with an “Intention of Intent to Proceed” lawsuit, you should obtain copies of this notice and the attorney general’s letter for your records. If you are a consumer who has been the victim of these types of actions, you may be entitled to compensation for both these actions under federal and state consumer protection statutes.