YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Englewood Cliffs-based Stanley Safe Club and its owners defrauded customers who paid up to $2,400 for residential and vehicle service insurance contracts for expenses that ended up not being covered, state authorities charged today.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs filed a complaint alleging that Stanley Warrantly LLC and owner/CEO Stanislav Mankovsky of Alpine, alleging that customers ended up “paying out of pocket for repair claims that Stanley Warranty ignored or refused to honor” for repairing or replacing home systems, appliances and vehicles.
The company “used deceptive tactics to sell its so-called ‘warranties’ [and then] refused to respond to consumer claims for the repair or replacement of items covered by residential contracts,” acting state Attorney General John J. Hoffman.
“As a result, consumers paid up to $2,400 per year for coverage that, according to the Stanley Warranty website and other advertisements, were supposed to provide ‘100 percent’ cost reimbursement for the repair or replacement of covered items,” he said.
Stanley Warranty “was responsive to its customers only when taking their money and signing them up for contracts that allegedly turned out to be deceptive and hollow,” Hoffman said.
“Any consumer who is tempted to enter into such a contract should check whether customers have filed complaints against the company offering the contract,” he added.
Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee noted that Stanley “advertised that its service contracts will ‘reduce your costs, reduce your stress, and reduce your frustration.’ In reality, the experience was expensive, stressful, and frustrating for consumers.”
The state’s complaint, filed by the Division of Law on behalf of the DCA, alleges violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, Service Contracts Act and Advertising Relations.
It accuses the company and Mankovsky, in part, of:
Conducting business under the name “Stanley Warranty,” implying that the company sells warranties, when it actually sells residential service contracts and motor vehicle service contracts;
Advertising that the defendants’ so-called “home warranty” program “has you covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year” and “will reduce your costs, reduce your stress, and reduce your frustration” when such is not the case;
Representing on the Stanley Warranty website that consumers can call the company’s claims department 24 hours a day and that the company has a network of more than 90,000 service providers across the country to respond to service requests, when such is not the case;
Representing to consumers who requested service on a home appliance or system that a service provider would contact the consumer within 48 hours, when such was not the case;
Requiring consumers to hire their own independent out-of-network contractor for repairs, when Stanley Warranty failed to arrange for a service provider;
Instructing consumers to make out-of-pocket payments for home system repairs or replacement with the promise of reimbursement but then failing to provide reimbursement;
Continuing to charge consumers’ bank accounts or credit cards, after consumers cancelled their residential or motor vehicle service contracts; and
Failing to respond to consumer inquiries for several weeks, if at all.
DCA Office of Consumer Protection Investigator Brian Morgenstern conducted the probe.
Deputy Attorney General Mark E. Critchley, of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, is representing the state.
The Bergen County Office of Consumer Affairs assisted.