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AG Horne Asks That American Residential Services HVAC Company Be Barred From Operating In Arizona: Files Injunction in Pima County Superior Court For Alleged Consumer Fraud Act Violations

PHOENIX (Thursday, September 15, 2011) – Attorney General Tom Horne today announced his office has filed a lawsuit for injunctive relief, restitution and civil penalties in Pima County Superior Court against American Residential Services, L.L.C. alleging numerous violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. Allegations include false, misleading and deceptive sales tactics involving older consumers.

American Residential Services operates a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company under that name as well as operating several other companies in Pima, Maricopa, Cochise and Yavapai counties. The other companies include ARS Rescue Rooter, Goettl Air Conditioning, and Russett Services/ARS Rescue Rooter.

“My office has received dozens of consumer complaints about these companies,” Horne said. “Millions of people in Arizona rely heavily on HVAC companies to provide essential services to consumers. It is important that those companies serve these consumers with integrity and professionalism. Any time a company abuses the trust that exists between a customer and a professional service provider, they must be held accountable.”

The filing claims that these companies have engaged in the following practices:

  1. ARS takes advantage of elderly consumers, very often by using scare tactics, to sell them HVAC systems and plumbing replacements they do not need and cannot afford.
  2. ARS installs solar water heaters even though it is not licensed to do so.
  3. Mailing false, misleading and deceptive solicitations to thousands of Arizonans throughout the year, including:
  4. False safety notices to frighten consumers into buying unnecessary systems and repairs;
  5. Official-looking solicitations that appear to be mandatory notices/alerts from a government agency;
  6. Official-looking notices that mislead consumers about rebates and tax credits;
  7. False and misleading buy-back notices and rebate notices.
  8. ARS engages in false, misleading and deceptive sales tactics to ensure that consumers do not exercise their three-day cancellation rights.
  9. ARS engages in false, misleading and deceptive “packaging” pricing.
  10. ARS offers misleading and useless warranties and guarantees.

The court filing seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the companies from operating an HVAC business in Arizona. It also seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, restitution for consumers and an additional $10,000 civil penalty for each occurrence of professional licensing violations under Title 32 of Arizona Revised Statutes. 
A copy of the filing is attached.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Noreen Matts of the Consumer Protection and Advocacy Section.

If you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6504, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1(800) 352-8431. Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting the Attorney General’s web site at www.azag.gov. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General has satellite offices throughout the state. Location and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s web site.

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