If you’ve ordered a popular language audio course online you could be due some money. The company Internet Order agreed to a $1 million, multi-state settlement for the deceptive marketing of Pimsleur language learning courses.
Pimsleur Approach usually costs several hundred dollars but the company Internet Order was selling the first course for 10 bucks. Paula Selis with the Washington Attorney General’s Office said if you didn’t catch the fine print you would find yourself enrolled in a costly program.
“A month later you were getting the advanced level and you were automatically billed for $256 dollars for that advanced level. And that went onto four more levels until ultimately you could be up to $1,024 for four levels of language learning CDs you never knew you subscribed to,” explained Selis.
But today’s $1 million settlement will put some of that money back in the pockets of Washington consumers. Internet Order also agreed to be more transparent about its program, something Selis says it wasn’t doing before.
“What they did was disclose things through a series of hypertext links,” said Selis. “I think I counted once there were 14 screens that you had to get through, all the way, if you wanted to get every single aspect of the disclosures.”
Today’s settlement also took care of customers who were threatened with collections for refusing to pay the unexpected charges.
“The company would engage in very aggressive collection efforts and would send consumers collection letter that made it sound like they were going to come after them,” said Selis. “In fact they weren’t engaged in collection efforts these were just empty threats. So they’ve stopped doing that as well.”
In a statement, Internet Order said,
Internet Order LLC, the Philadelphia-based language learning e-commerce company, today announced that it has resolved two lawsuits filed by the Attorney Generals of the states of Washington and Pennsylvania; the resolution allows the Company to continue to provide customers with its high-quality language learning products while implementing a more transparent pricing model. In addition, a related investigation by the State of New York was also settled.
“We are extremely proud that over the past 15 years, Internet Order LLC has inspired millions of people to experience the romance and connection that learning a new language can bring to their lives,” said Dan Roitman, CEO of Internet Order LLC.
“Although we were surprised by the investigation and lawsuits, we complied with all of their various requests and inquiries. It has been a long and complicated journey, and at this point, it is clear that it is better to resolve, rather than contest our differences with the states. It is important to understand that the inquiries had nothing to do with the quality or the effectiveness of our language learning programs. Rather, the AG’s concerns focused on our pricing model, which we have worked with the AG’s to make clear and completely transparent to our customers.
We are glad to put this in the past so that we can once again concentrate our efforts on making the award-winning Pimsleur Approach Language Learning System available to anyone seeking to learn a new language for travel, business or simply as an avenue to opening new windows on the world.”
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