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For Immediate Release
May 20, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE SETTLES WITH HEARING AID SELLERS WHO FAILED TO PAY CONSUMERS REFUNDS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with the Better Hearing Centers, a chain of hearing aid stores that sold hearing aids to Maryland consumers from locations throughout Maryland. Under the settlement, the Better Hearing Centers and their owners, John and Sharol Kochan of Silver Spring, Maryland, agreed to refund at least $24,990 to eight consumers who had cancelled their purchases of hearing aids and were not refunded their payments.

Under the Maryland Hearing Aid Sales Act, consumers who purchase hearing aids have 30 days from the date of the delivery of their hearing aids to cancel their purchases. Cancelling consumers are entitled to 90 percent of the amounts they paid for their hearing aids, which must be paid within 30 days of their cancellation request. Under the Maryland Door-to-Door Sales Act, consumers who purchase hearing aids through sales in their homes are entitled to full refunds if they cancel their orders within three business days of their purchases. The Division alleged that the Kochans and their company did not adequately disclose consumers' cancellation rights under both the Hearing Aid Sales Act and the Door-to-Door Sales Act and failed to pay refunds to consumers who lawfully cancelled their orders.

The settlement requires the Kochans and their business to make full restitution to all consumers who properly cancelled their hearing aid purchases, but have not received full refunds of the payments they made for their hearing aids. The Division is aware of at least eight consumers who are owed refunds that total $24,990. The Kochans also agreed to post a $20,000 surety bond with the Division and pay the Division $1,000 for its costs and a penalty of up to $25,000. The Kochans also agreed to alter their sales practices to comply with the Hearing Aid Sales Act and Door-to-Door Sales Act and to arbitrate any complaints they receive in the future through the Attorney General's Arbitration Program.

"The purchase of a hearing aid can be a difficult and expensive transaction," Attorney General Curran said. "Hearing aid sellers must honor consumers' cancellation rights and issue refunds promptly as required by law."

Consumers who believe they are entitled to restitution under the Attorney General's settlement with the Better Hearing Centers may contact the Consumer Protection Division by calling (410) 528-1840.

 

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