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For Immediate Release
June 9, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE SETTLES WITH HEARING AID SELLER WHO FAILED TO PAY CONSUMERS REFUNDS


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with American Hearing Centers, Inc., a now defunct chain of hearing aid stores that sold hearing aids to Maryland consumers from locations throughout Maryland. Under the settlement, American Hearing Centers, Inc.’s former owner, Mitchell Stein of Olney, Maryland, agreed to refund more than $20,000 to 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 and receive most of their money back. If a company offers a refund period that exceeds 30 days, the company must provide a refund if the consumer cancels within that longer period. The Division alleged that Stein and his company failed to pay refunds to consumers who lawfully cancelled their orders.

The settlement requires Stein to make full restitution to all consumers who properly cancelled their hearing aid purchases, but have not received refunds of the payments they made for their hearing aids. The settlement also requires Stein to make full restitution to all consumers who made payments and had HMO coverage or insurance coverage that provided that American Hearing Centers, Inc. had to accept the insurance payment as payment in full, less any applicable co-pay or deductible. Also, for all consumers with insurance policies that allowed American Hearing Centers, Inc. to charge the consumer the difference between the amount of the insurance payment and American Hearing Centers, Inc.’s charge, the settlement requires Stein to make full restitution to consumers of amounts paid by them that exceeded that difference.

The Division is aware of consumers who are owed refunds that total more than $20,000. Stein also agreed to post $20,000 in security for future claims before operating a hearing aid business and to pay the Division $1,000 for its costs. Stein also agreed to fully comply with the Hearing Aid Sales Act.

" Buying a hearing aid can be difficult and expensive," 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 Mitchell Stein may contact the Consumer Protection Division by calling (410) 528-1840.
 

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