North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG wins refunds from company that pitched tools to learn English

Release date: 10/17/2007

Interlingual agrees to change sales tactics, pay refunds

Raleigh: A company that used tricky marketing to pitch its English language learning software has agreed to follow the law and pay refunds to consumers who file complaints, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.

“This company took advantage of people who wanted to learn our language,” said Cooper. “Now, we’ve won money back for consumers and gotten the company to change its ways.”

Cooper alleges that Interlingual of Houston, Texas, made telemarketing calls and in-home sales visits to Spanish-speaking North Carolina residents to sell compact discs and printed materials designed to teach English. Telemarketers working for Interlingual first called consumers, claiming that they were calling to ask them questions for a poll or survey. The telemarketers then quickly switched to a sales pitch and asked to set up a meeting with a sales representative at the consumer’s home

The Attorney General contends that Interlingual sales representatives told prospective customers that they had been selected to receive special scholarships or discounts of up to fifty percent off the purchase price. In reality, all consumers were quoted a price of $1,100 for the CDs and books. Other consumers were promised 20 free English lessons, but could only get their supposedly free lessons by agreeing to buy the CDs and books.

Under today’s agreement, Interlingual will change its sales practices. The company has agreed to stop making false claims about scholarships, discounts and free lessons. Interlingual will notify customers verbally and in writing in the same language used to make the sale, which is usually Spanish, about their three-day right to cancel their purchase. North Carolina law gives people three days to cancel a purchase if it wasn’t made at the company’s regular place of business.

The company also agreed to change its telemarketing practices. Interlingual telemarketers will stop making false survey calls and will not use automatic dialers and pre-recorded messages without consumers’ consent. The company will make sure its telemarketers are properly trained to follow telemarketing laws.

Any consumer who files a complaint with the NC Attorney General’s Office, Texas Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau within the next 120 days will get a full refund from Interlingual. Consumers can contact Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free in North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. For help in Spanish, consumers can call (919) 716-0058.

“Tricking consumers is just plain wrong, in any language,” said Cooper. “If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact my office. We’re here to help.”