NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


April 9, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

CURRAN ORDERS PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COMPANY
TO CEASE UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has ordered a Prince George’s County mirror company to cease its unfair and deceptive practices in connection with its sale of customized mirrors to consumers. Sterling Mirror of Maryland, Inc., 6700-A Distribution Drive, Beltsville, and its president, Michael Kaperst, were found to have violated the Maryland Door-to-Door Sales Act, the Retail Installment Sales Act and the Consumer Protection Act, and were ordered to offer restitution payments to more than 400 consumers who may have been harmed by the company’s sales practices.

Sterling Mirror sells customized mirrors and installation services to consumers in their homes, and offers financing to consumers. Consumers who sign purchase contracts in their homes have the right under the Maryland Door-to-Door Sales Act to cancel the contracts within three business days. Also, consumers who plan to finance their purchases are not obligated to pay for the items they order until their financing is approved and they are provided fully executed contracts setting forth the terms of that financing.

Curran’s Consumer Protection Division, and the Administrative Law Judge who heard the case, found that Sterling Mirror violated Maryland law when it denied consumers’ cancellation rights and refused to refund deposits to consumers who were denied financing and sought to cancel their contracts. It also found that Sterling Mirror deceived consumers in the first place about the availability of financing for their purchases.

"A business may not entice a consumer to enter into a contract by falsely promising that financing will be available," Attorney General Curran said. "It is also illegal for a business to deny the consumer’s right to cancel the contract and keep the deposit when the promised financing is not provided."

The Consumer Protection Division’s Order requires Sterling Mirror to pay restitution to consumers who were harmed by its practices, as well as a $50,000 civil penalty and the Division’s investigation costs. Consumers whose applications for financing were denied by Sterling Mirror may be eligible to receive a refund of the payments they made for their mirrors.

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