Ashley Moody Announces Over $1 Million Pledge for Victims of Predatory HVAC Company

This week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody won more than $1 million in potential consumer relief for customers of an HVAC company that allegedly engaged in predatory sales and service practices.

This follows an action brought by Moody’s Consumer Protection Division versus Louis Bruno and his business Bruno, LLCknown as Bruno Total Home Performance and Bruno Air Conditioning, for allegedly aggressive and deceptive sales practices that resulted in significant financial harm to Florida consumers. The majority of affected customers were seniors, some of whom lived on fixed incomes. Deceptive practices involve alleged behaviors, such as upselling unnecessary HVAC systems and setting up financing deals with terms and liens on homes that consumers didn’t understand.

“We are providing redress worth over $1 million for consumers who took advantage of CVC’s alleged deceptive sales tactics. This is an important resolution for hundreds of consumers, mostly seniors, who have said they have fallen prey to the defendants,” Moody said.

If seized by the court, the proposed stipulated consent judgment will provide an important injunction that includes:

A permanent ban on Bruno, LLC from conducting HVAC business in Florida;

A permanent ban on Bruno from using high-pressure, false, or misleading statements when offering or providing HVAC services, including threatening to file liens, making false health claims, threatening void a warranty and misrepresent a binding agreement such as an “estimate”;

A requirement that Bruno provide consumers with a written copy of any agreement when consumers execute the agreement on a tablet or other electronic device;

A ban on the use of non-disparagement clauses that restrict a consumer’s ability to post negative reviews;

A requirement to provide consumers with written information about the sales process so that a consumer can better identify if a sales agent has skipped a required step or failed to obtain required approvals at the correct point in the process; and

A requirement that no work can begin until the finance company has confirmed that the consumer agrees to all the terms of the finance agreement.

The monetary relief identified in the consent judgment includes $100,000 in monetary relief to be paid to eligible consumers, over $1.3 million in alleged unpaid payments due to defendants that they will not seek from consumers, at the less $100,000 in lien release, more than $50,000 in consumer refunds, $25,000 in attorney fees and $500,000 in conditional penalties.

Last month, to prevent more Floridians from falling victim to HVAC scams, Moody’s created “Scams at a Glance: Keep Your Cool.”

The resource highlights tips on how to avoid being tricked by scammers, including:

• Familiarize yourself with how HVAC systems work, making it harder for a scammer to take advantage of the lack of know-how;

• Obtain a second opinion on repairs and sales quotes to ensure that the first offer is not a scam;

• Beware of high-pressure sales tactics; and

• Ask for a written agreement.

Florida Daily
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