New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Acting on Court Order, Impounds Merchandise at North Jersey Prom Dress Store, Prepares to Return Dresses to Consumers
NEWARK - Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs announced that, pursuant to a court order, the Division has changed the locks at The Red Carpet Pageant and Prom LLC in Wayne, impounded all merchandise and records in the store, and is prepared to return prom dresses to consumers who can provide documentation proving specific dresses belong to them.
In fact, Attorney General Chiesa noted, the Division on Wednesday, June 6, already returned one dress to a consumer who provided proof that she had purchased the garment. Hours earlier, Superior Court Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh ordered a temporary freeze of the defendants' assets, and authorized the Division and a temporary receiver to impound the store's merchandise.
"A prom is a significant event in a teenager's life, and one for which many consumers deposit significant amounts of money for the perfect dress," Attorney General Chiesa said. "We will not tolerate businesses that make false promises to consumers, then fail to provide the goods or services consumers have paid for."
The Division of Consumer Affairs filed suit on June 5 against Red Carpet and its manager, Patricia A. Dowling, of Deptford, and her husband, Michael J. Dowling, after the store closed its doors and ceased business operations in the midst of prom season – allegedly leaving many young women without their prom dresses or a refund, after they paid in full or in part for the dresses.
"The Division of Consumer Affairs is working to help the affected consumers reclaim garments they paid for, with the hope to get them their dresses in time for the prom," Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. "We urge consumers to gather up any and all documentation that can prove they purchased a specific dress, and to contact us immediately."
The State accuses Red Carpet and its owners of violating New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act by engaging in unconscionable commercial practices, false promises, misrepresentation, and/or deception. The defendants allegedly took payment for special-order dresses that were to be provided at a later date, and then failed to provide the garments; and failed to provide refunds to consumers who did not receive their garments. On at least one occasion, the defendants allegedly took a consumer's deposit and told him his order for a tuxedo would be placed with a supplier – but then failed to place the order.
At least 16 consumers allegedly paid the defendants in full or in part for dresses that have not been provided, for a total amount of $5,400. As late as the first week of May, the defendants allegedly contacted consumers and told them their dresses were ready for pickup, but when consumers arrived at the Red Carpet shortly thereafter, they found the store closed and no one there.
The State is seeking a permanent freeze of the defendants' assets, full restitution for affected consumers, as well as the imposition of civil penalties, costs, and fees.
Investigator Donna Leslie, of the Division of Consumer Affairs' Office of Consumer Protection, led this investigation along with Investigators Oscar Mejia and Ediz Laypan. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Kant is representing the State in this action.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.
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