AG Cooper gets court to pull the plug on Charlotte-area heater company
Release date: 5/13/2013
Hydro-Sil took consumers’ money, failed to deliver products as promised
Raleigh: A Charlotte-area company that took orders and money for heaters that it failed to deliver has been ordered to cease selling products or accepting payments from consumers, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced today.
“It’s frustrating when a business makes promises that turn out to be nothing but hot air, especially when consumers lose their hard-earned money,” Cooper said. “We want to put a stop to this kind of rip off and win consumers’ money back.”
Cooper filed suit against Hydro-Sil, related companies and their management on May 6, alleging that the defendants took orders and accepted payments for heaters, thermostats and other products with no intention of fulfilling the orders.
Last week, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway agreed with Cooper’s request to halt Hydro-Sil of Matthews from advertising or selling products or services, including taking advance payments. The court order bars the defendants from transferring any assets or destroying any records while the case moves forward. Cooper is seeking a permanent ban on the defendants’ harmful business practices, cancellation of contracts, refunds for consumers, and civil penalties.
The temporary restraining order also applies to the following defendants named in Cooper’s complaint: Heatech Industries, Inc., Santech Industries, Inc., and Performance Comfort Systems, Inc., all of the same address in Charlotte; Frank Sanford III, president and registered agent of Heatech and Santech; and Christopher Scott Sanford, believed to be manager of the companies named in the suit.
As alleged in the complaint, Hydro-Sil sold baseboard heaters and other items online, requiring full payment in advance. In late 2011, the company began having trouble fulfilling orders and then routinely began deceiving consumers by accepting payment for orders the company knew it could not provide. Hydro-Sil actively solicited consumers and took money from them until almost the very moment it ceased operations in December 2012.
Cooper’s office received 36 complaints against Hydro-Sil while 116 consumers filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau about the company. Consumers who complained paid the company anywhere from $200 to more than $4,500 for heaters and other products that never arrived.
According to consumers whose affidavits were filed with the lawsuit, the company used many different excuses for why its products didn’t arrive as promised. Some consumers were told that one of the company’s suppliers had gone out of business, while others were told that there were delays on the construction line or design changes in products. Still others were told that the delays were due to Hydro-Sil being bought by another company.
When the company eventually shut down its website, Cooper’s complaint contends, it posted a notice claiming that, “the original equipment manufacturer of the Hydro-Sil heater will no longer ship or supply [Performance Comfort Systems, Inc.] with the needed inventory.” Defendant Christopher Scott Sanford later told the Better Business Bureau that Santech was actually the retailer responsible for the sales. Hydro-Sil had previously advertised that it manufactured the heaters itself.
“Check out a company thoroughly before you pay them any money,” Cooper urged consumers. “If a company doesn’t deliver items you’ve ordered as promised, remember that you have the right to cancel for a full refund.”
To check out a company or file a consumer complaint, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or file a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.
Contact: Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413