Class Action Suit Drives Scammers Into Bankruptcy

Missouri florists have bankrupted a New Jersey telemarketer accused in a class action suit of tampering with phone book listings to siphon callers away from local businesses. The telemarketer, TTP, purchased phone book listings under the same names as local florists, but did not provide an address; the listings appeared side-by-side, but when local callers dialed the number without an address, they were directed to an out-of-state call center that tacked on a handling fee and submitted the order to a different area florist.

“The primary objective of both lawsuits is to get TTP out of Missouri,” said Gregory Leyh of Gladstone, the attorney for both class-action lawsuits. “TTP cheats by pretending to be a local florist so it can fool consumers and steal the legitimate business of Missouri florists. At least for now, TTP is no longer in the floral business in Missouri.”

TTP’s president, Thomas Meola, said the company could no longer afford the cost of defending the lawsuits.

“This is a victory for us,” said Debbie Fulton, owner of Gladstone Florist on North Oak Trafficway. “We noticed our business began to pick up this summer, when it is normally down. Then we found out that the telemarketer had disconnected the phone.”

TTP has come under fire in the past from the attorneys general of Delaware and Virginia. If you see two listings in the phone book, remember to call the one with an address.

Local florists score victory over telemarketing scheme [KCCommunityNews]
(AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. endlessendres says:

    This needs to happen in Wisconsin.

  2. scoobydoo says:

    The PHONE BOOK?

    Who even uses a phone book nowadays anyway?

  3. Hexum2600 says:

    @scoobydoo: A lot of people. A lot of people under 30.

    Guess what, some of us read newspapers too!

    Good to see your arrogant, hollowly superior comments are still coming strong.

  4. Crazytree says:

    now if they could just kill

    THE HOT LEADS COMPANY

    the fax spammers that call your house at 4:18 am to see if your number has a fax on.

    operating with TOTAL IMPUNITY.

  5. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Crazytree: Perhaps you could try Google, you would find [www.junkfax.org]

  6. dbeahn says:

    What, no one is coming to the defense of the poor, innocent telemarketing scammers??!? I guess no one from the “Net Neutrality ROOLZ!” or “Marriott TOTALLY screws people that don’t bother to confirm! They should give them free rooms for LIFE because they didn’t get their free stuff!” crowds have seen this post…

  7. Crazytree says:

    @doctor_cos: they’re operating even though they have cease and desist orders from the FTC and the FCC IIRC.

    THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE JUNK FAXES.

    The problem is with their auto-dailer that calls your house repeatedly at 3am on a wednesday.

  8. EtherealStrife says:

    @dbeahn: Because everyone who disagrees with you is automatically a troll, right? Your posts always get a lol out of me for their sheer arrogance, and the occasional tangential analogy you toss in.
    Net neutrality protects consumers (from private taxation of public property + access limitations) and has mixed results for businesses, this class action protected consumers (dialing charges) AND businesses (lost business), and I don’t think anyone was saying that victims of Marriott should get free rooms for life.
    They are completely different issues.

    @Hexum2600: Newspapers and phonebooks are easily accessible online (for free), without wasting time thumbing through pages. Even saves trees, if you’re into that. Hard copies are fast becoming a thing of the past.

  9. TMurphy says:

    I wonder if they will go after any companies that paid for the services of this telemarketer. They aren’t going to go away until they aren’t worth paying.

    @hexum2600 Chances are the guy is being exaggerated, if not sarcastic. No need for them fightin’ words if someone may simply be joking around. I’d like to see an end to people posting solely to comment on someone else; at least contribute to the discussion before doing so.

  10. pc-vip says:

    I gotta say: you guys were lazy on this one.

    It might be kinda scummy to do what those telemarketers did, but it’s probably not illegal in any way other than a trademark-violation possibility. They wanna do biz by being sneaky? Guess what? That’s done all the time.

    It doesn’t make it OK, by the way, but you guys sure can get preachy, sometimes.

    On the other hand: I know of a huge limo service in NYC that fell victim to this in a whole different way: a company such as the one you spoke of did the same thing but intentionally defrauded the phone company along the way (it’s a long story). Those guys were scum, too, and deserved the jail time they got when they were also found guilty of theft-of-services.

    I love you guys and this is a great soapbox, but sometimes you gotta tell us more about what’s in the box. Get it?

    Jeff Yablon
    President and CEO
    PC-VIP
    [pc-vip.com]

  11. mbrutsch says:

    @Hexum2600: Yeah, you should probably cut back on the coffee. I’m 45 and I use phonebooks strictly for propping things up, and newspapers for lining the birdcage. Not all fire bad.

  12. Missouri has no law banning the practice used by the telemarketer…

    That probably won’t last long. No sympathy for TTP here.


    It doesn’t make it OK, by the way, but you guys sure can get preachy, sometimes.
    @pc-vip: Preachy how? But putting up a post pointing out that this happened? It’s bad but they shouldn’t have mentioned it?

  13. Beerad says:

    @pc-vip: Yeah, I gotta vote for you just trying to drum up business for your company, or is your position and website somehow relevant to your comment?

    Consumerist doesn’t just report on stories involving lawbreakers, but “scummy” business practices in general. And as you recognize, this was unethical behavior — deceiving customers into using your more expensive business — it’s pretty obvious why this post is appropriate. There’s “sneaky” and then there’s “we’re lying to you.”

    Ugh. Don’t know how much additional revenue you were hoping to generate from your comment, but please go somewhere else if you’re desperate for cheap advertising.

  14. @EtherealStrife: “Newspapers and phonebooks are easily accessible online (for free), without wasting time thumbing through pages.”

    Here, at least, phonebooks come to the house, for free, and are recycled by the company, for free, and include a lot of listings for locally-owned companies who don’t put themselves on the internet or pay for the added service of an internet listing.

    Also with restaurants they’re FAR more likely to list their hours of operation in the book than online. At least here. I don’t know why. It’s almost the only thing I look up in the phone book — restaurant hours and contractors.

  15. Also with restaurants they’re FAR more likely to list their hours of operation in the book than online.

    @Eyebrows McGee: I can’t remember if it’s YellowPages or YellowBook that does this but one of them even has some of the restaurants’ menus in them.

    I also find that the YellowPages web site’s insistence on giving me results from cities other than the one I placed in the search form extremely annoying.

  16. EtherealStrife says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Add AOLYellowPages to aim/trillian/gaim buddy list. “cl [your city]”, enter the number corresponding to your city if it gives you multiple possibilities, and from then on it should remember and limit the search to that area, organizing results based on distance. Just im it with something you want to look up like so:

    pizza hut
    [21:10:24] AOLYellowPages:

    Page: 1 of 15

    Search for: “pizza hut” in [your city here].

    Enter a number to select a listing:

    1. Pizza Hut (1.30 mi.) 949-551-1505

    2. Pizza Hut (1.79 mi.) 949-863-8100

    3. Pizza Hut (2.61 mi.) 949-263-1700

    4. Pizza Hut (3.27 mi.) 949-552-1185

    5. Pizza Hut (4.03 mi.) 714-832-7711

    Type “M” to see more results, “CL” to change location, or enter a new search term.

    m
    [21:10:38] AOLYellowPages:

    Page: 2 of 15

    Search for: “pizza hut” in [your city here].

    Enter a number to select a listing:

    6. Pizza Hut (4.33 mi.) 714-540-6201

    7. Pizza Hut (4.63 mi.) 714-480-0740

    8. Pizza Hut (5.02 mi.) 714-544-8400

    9. Pizza Hut (5.25 mi.) 714-568-0041

    10. Pizza Hut (5.58 mi.) 714-751-1100

    Type “M” to see more results, “B” to see the previous results, “CL” to change location, or enter a new search term.

    8
    [21:10:42] AOLYellowPages:
    Pizza Hut
    13662 Newport Ave # H
    city, state
    714-544-8400 Map

    Type “L” to go back to the listings, “CL” to change location, or enter a new search term.


    Wonderfully useful Bot. Just remember that the mileage is based on the center of town. If in doubt, click on the map link. Sorry, no menus. :)

  17. melaniem says:

    It’s good to see this idiot get what he deserves. Somewhere I have a file folder labeled “The Jerk File,” with the whole saga of my encounter with the evil imitation florist.

    I wanted to order some flowers for my mom, and I called information to get the number for what I thought was a local florist. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until Mom told me she got the flowers, and they were mostly carnations, with a single rose. Not nearly what I ordered (and paid over $40 for). And then it came out that the flowers had come from a different florist than the one I thought I had called. So I called to complain, and I figured out what was going on pretty quickly. He tried to get me in trouble at work after I faxed something to him from work (didn’t work, because I was friends with the assistant director of our division, so he didn’t care that I was faxing personal things from work), and he set up a three-way conference call with my local police (who thought that he should refund my money).

    This operation is just barely legal, except in my case I ordered flowers from a business in Delaware, which doesn’t have sales tax, and I got charged sales tax. That crosses the line (so he was willing to refund the sales tax he charged me–like that’s going to make it all better). It should be illegal, because they try to make it look like they’re your local florist, when they’re really in a basement in New Jersey. It’s not like anybody would say, hey, let’s order some flowers from this crappy place in New Jersey and pay extra for the privilege.

    I did end up getting my money back, but that’s a story for another time.